This Global Terrorism Trend Will Surprise You

June 11th 2016

Aimee Kuvadia

It's not often we hear good news about terrorism, but things may finally be taking a turn for the better.

A State Department report showed a 13.4 percent drop in global terrorism deaths in 2015. Considering deaths from terrorism between 2012 and 2014 spiked by a whopping 200 percent, these latest findings suggest real improvement, Vox reported.

It should be noted that the decline in worldwide terrorism deaths could be a mere statistical glitch, but it's more likely we've made some progress defeating deadly terrorist organizations such as the so-called Islamic State group and Boko Haram.

These graphs illustrate global terrorism trends.

Global terrorism deaths between 2012-2015

terrorism deaths graph

Terrorism deaths by country from 2014-2015

State Department terrorism deaths by country

Here's what they mean.

The 2014 surge in terrorist violence was attributed to the rise of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria and Boko Haram in Nigeria. Both groups were on the offensive in 2014, intensifying their attacks and their frequency in order to seize large swaths of land. At the height of its effort, the Islamic State group had conquered territory in Iraq and Syria that equaled the size of the United Kingdom. Boko Haram had extended control over territory in Nigeria that was the size of Belgium, Vox reported.

Islamic State Flag

But the groups set themselves up for setbacks once they settled in: They found themselves on the defensive from attackers instead of the other way around and suffered major losses as a result. U.S. airstrikes impeded the Islamic State group's ability to execute large-scale offensive attacks. Syrian Kurds, meanwhile, escalated their resistance in Syria, and Iraqi forces gained a better understanding of IS strategy, thanks to the group's decreased mobility, according to Vox.

Between the start of 2015 and mid-March 2016, IS had lost 22 percent of its territory in Iraq and Syria, and Boko Haram had lost a significant chunk of territory in northern Nigeria, The New York Times reported.

As Vox's reporting notes, gaining territory for terrorist groups is easy, holding onto it is difficult, and planning and executing attacks while holding that territory has proved most difficult of all.