Report finds the Taliban were deadlier than ISIS in 2018

Attacks by the Taliban were deadlier than those committed by any other group in 2018, according to a report released by an international think tank on Wednesday.

The 2019 Global Terrorism Index found that the militant group took significantly more lives than ISIS did last year. Although the overall number of deaths by terrorism declined in 2018, according to the report, 71 countries recorded at least one death by terrorism. Afghanistan was most affected, with more than 7,000 deaths.

The index also identified a sharp rise in far-right terrorism globally, particularly in Europe and North America.

The report was produced by the Institute for Economics & Peace, a nonpartisan think tank that develops metrics to study peace and its economic impact. It pulls its data from the Global Terrorism Database of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. The database includes the deaths of assailants in its fatality numbers.
Sharp rise in deaths by the Taliban

According to Steve Killelea, the executive chairman of the Institute for Economics & Peace, the Taliban “now account for 38 per cent of all terrorist deaths globally,” which he believes “underscores the difficulty with the current conflict” in Afghanistan. They were responsible for 6,103 deaths in 2018, a 71% increase over the previous year, according to the index, and the number of attacks rose to 972, a 39% increase from the prior year. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadliest attack in 2018 — the days-long August assault on the Afghan city of Ghazni, in which at least 466 people, including 326 assailants, were killed, according to the database.

“In 2018, the Taliban’s main targets were military and police personnel, which accounted for 53 per cent of attacks and 59 per cent of all deaths,” the report noted. “In 2018, over 3,600 military and police personnel were killed in attacks attributed to the Taliban.”

The US began peace negotiations with the Taliban, led by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, in late 2018. President Donald Trump called off those formal talks in early September 2019 after a Taliban-claimed attack in Kabul that killed a dozen people, including an American soldier.
‘Dramatic decline’ in ISIS activity

The report found ISIS to be responsible for 1,328 deaths in 2018 — a sharp drop from the years prior. It was the first time since 2014 that ISIS was not the deadliest group, the report said.

“The dramatic decline in (ISIS) activity over the past two years has mainly been driven by the success of local forces and a US-led international coalition, which have militarily defeated the group in Syria and Iraq,” it noted.

Trump has touted the gains made against ISIS under his administration. However, US officials have warned that despite the loss of the ISIS caliphate, the terrorist organization remains a threat.

320% increase in ‘far-right’ terrorism

The 2019 Global Terrorism Index also identified a drastic rise in far-right terrrorism but noted that it “remains a small fraction of total terrorism worldwide.” It defines “far-right” as “a political ideology that is centred on one or more of the following elements: strident nationalism (usually racial or exclusivist in some fashion), fascism, racism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigration, chauvinism, nativism, and xenophobia.”

The report included attacks that took place through September 2019, including the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque attacks and the mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas.

“Far-right terrorism is really a Western phenomenon, a Western democracy phenomenon,” Killelea told CNN. “We found that over the last five years, the number of incidents has increased by 320%.”

The report found that these far-right terrorists had the biggest impact on the United States.

“In the US in 2018, there were no recorded attacks by a known terrorist group. Out of 57 events, 28 were committed by far-right extremists, 27 by unknown perpetrators, and two by jihadi-inspired extremists,” it said.