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The Global Terrorism Index (GTI) defines terrorism as “the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.” Countries are ranked on a scale out 10 based on their risk and impact of terrorism. The top five countries for the highest impact of terrorism is Iraq with a GTI score of 10/10, Afghanistan with a GTI score of 9.39/10, Pakistan with a GTI score of 9.37/10, Nigeria with a score of 8.58/10 and Syria with a GTI score of 8.12/10. Although, there are several factors that have contributed to the global pattern, three main factors include; country development, relgious idealogy and their expansion tendancies, and politcal uppheaveal. These factors have caused significant social and economic impacts for countries and their population.
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The map above shows the risks of terrorism globally, with red representing a severe risk graduating down to green representing a negligible risk of terrorism. As can be observed, there is a concentration of countries in Africa and areas of the Middle East such as Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, and Nigeria, which are all, developing nations or less economically developed countries (LEDC). Seventy percent of the countries in South America have a medium or high risk of terrorism. However, the global pattern of countries suffering from a medium or high risk of terrorism is scattered around the globe and includes such other countries as Brazil, Ethiopia, Iran, and even Russia. With the exceptions of some countries such as Ghana, there are clusters countries that share a common risk rating implying that neighboring countries influence each other such as the cluster in Europe, South America and Africa, where the countries within the clusters share a common risk rating. The southern hemisphere does not seem to demonstrate any particular pattern, countries with a low or a negligible risk of terrorism is randomly scattered with developed countries such as Australia and New Zealand having a negligible risk of terrorism and developing countries such as Zambia and Uruguay also having a negligible or low risk of terrorism. However, the holistic, global pattern of countries with a negligible or low risk of terrorist attacks is scattered between more economically developed countries (MEDC’S) with a cluster in Europe.
One of the main factors that have influenced the global pattern of terrorism is country development. The global pattern of countries that have low risks and negligible risks of terrorism is in MEDC’s. This is because MEDC’s usually have a stable political system, low levels of corruption, and a high HDI (The Human Development Index) score that is a holistic indicator to give an insight on how developed a country is. For example, Norway has the highest HDI ranking with a score of 0.944; alternatively, Niger has a HDI score of only 0.337 meaning that it has the lowest level of human development in the world coupled with a severe risk of terrorism, thus showing that there appears to be a strong correlation between the level of development of a country and the risks of terrorism it faces. This is because LEDC’s suffer from lack of judicial resources and capital to be able to control violence and are more susceptible to corruption, which leads an unstable governmental system. Therefore, the higher the HDI rating the increased probability of terrorist attacks occurring in that particular country.
The pie chart to the left clearly exhibits that where there is a lack of judicial control present in provides greater opportunity for terrorist organizations to carry out their activities. Syria is an example as the nation is experiencing internal and external conflict and as a consequence, terrorist attacks are more likely to occur. It is therefore seen that there seems to be a strong correlation between the pattern of global terrorism and country development, LEDC’s tending to have higher risks of terrorism.
Another compelling factor of developing the pattern of global terrorism is extremist religious ideologies, where particular fanatics believe that they have doctrine authority to unilaterally impose their ideology on others. Demonstrating the contagious expansion of these terrorist groups into neighboring clustered nations. Extremist groups have expanded their organizations by utilizing modern day technologies such as social media and terrorist forums as a platform to advocate their beliefs and expand their territory. For example, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) uses the Internet not only to spread its radical beliefs but also to recruit empower and motivate recruits from within their own homes to join their cause. The use of the Internet is a modern phenomenon used to recruit impressionable and naive youth from the west to join their campaign and to commit acts of terror in their homeland. So far, there is an estimated 12000 westerners have left their lives to expand terror groups such as ISIS in Iraq and Syria. This affects the global pattern of terrorism because the areas in which these radical groups operate expands as they gain more power and therefore form clusters like the ones in Africa and in the middle east where terrorism crosses borders.
The graph to the left (figure 12) clearly shows there are a higher proportion of religiously motivated terrorist incidents when compared to other factors over time. In 2000 the number of recorded religious incidents was 250 but in 2013 it dramatically increased to over 1500 incidents. In correlation, the graph also to the lefts (figure 12) shows the total number of terrorist incidents it is observed that as the number of global total incidents increases from 2000 so did the number of religiously motivated incidents, therefore, suggesting that the increased radicalized religious motives contributes to the increasing trend. Since the number of religiously driven attacks and the expansion of terrorist organizations has increased it indicates that the clustered countries (such as the cluster in the middle east) with a common risk rating implies that religious ideologies have caused this pattern due to porous borders.
The last significant factor that has instigated the global pattern of terrorism is political upheavals, where governmental agendas are in conflict with groups within the society creating internal conflict. For example, in Nigeria the active extremist group Boko Haram aims to eradicate the irreligious Nigerian government to achieve radical Wahhabi interpretations of Sharia law in the country. The groups’ extreme Sunni Islamist ideology has resulted in the use of terror to enforce and proclaim their views by bombings and shootings on citizens and the government. This political upheaval due to differences in interpretations of how the government operates has caused conflict within the country and terrorist attacks on the population. Systematic political differences are what have caused the global pattern of because countries that do not have a stable and fair political system tend to be LEDC’s and suffer from high risks of terrorism, where alternatively MEDC’s like the cluster of countries in Europe which have a low or negligible risk of terrorism, tend to have a history of strong democracy and a stable government. The graph below (figure 13) shows the trends of terrorist ideologies. Political and nationalist separatist motives are more common in South America, Russia and Central America and the Caribbean. This explains the cluster of countries in South America which almost all countries have a medium or high risk of terrorism as the continent deals with corrupt governments and inequality between classes as lower socio-economic groups suffer from poverty and therefore extremist groups have formed as result. An example of this is the PCC, (Primeiro Comando da Capital ), an extremist group in South America who in May 2006 created chaos in Sao Paulo by destroying busses, construction and public buildings as well injuring civilians and police officers. This attack was driven by political and social agendas demanding improvement of Brazilian prisons.
Global terrorism is significant to people all over the world because of the economic and social consequences that comes as a result of it. The social impact of terrorism has mainly negative affects on people; however, there are some positive outcomes. The perception of terrorist groups depends on where the view originates. It has been said that one person’s terrorist group is another person’s ‘freedom fighter.’ Terrorism affects different people socially in different parts of the world, for example, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Chechnya; the Chechnya’n rebels are viewed as terrorists in Russia but in Chechnya they are viewed as freedom fighters. One recent example of a positive social effect of a terrorist attack is the act of bringing a community together was after ‘Sydney Siege’ in 2014. There was a campaign after the siege where people posted via Twitter with the hash tag “I’ll ride with you” offering to accompany Muslim women who were wearing the hijab on public transport to prevent harassment. Interestingly in the topic of uniting communities, terrorism has galvanized world leaders to combat collecting using combined resources to respond and aim to eradicate terrorism, for example the United nations brings developing and developed countries together to work in unity to try correct the global issue of terrorism. This creates positive long term affects for future generations as a global community is established where interdependence exists between nations. The hallmarks of terrorism are the taking of innocent lives. Approximately 150,000 people have died as a direct result of terrorist attacks over the past eight years, that is an average 43 people a day! These staggering numbers show how many families have been destroyed due to effect of radical, terrorist attacks. There are still 1,113 unidentified people from the September 11 attacks in the United States fourteen years ago; meaning the attacks have a long-term effect for many families as they do not have closure of their loss. Another negative social affect is the mass generation of refugees. People flee out of their own countries to live in another safer country, for example, three million people have fled Syria and five million afghan refugees live in Iran as their country of origin high levels of terrorism conflict. The lasting effect has generation effects, language, financial, loss of careers health.
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The economic significance for people of as a result of terrorism affects every country having prolonged financial costs. Decreased tourism is a resultant effect as people do not want to travel with their families to what they perceive as risky and dangerous places so people will avoid travelling to countries with very high risks of terrorist attacks. Decrease in trade is also another cost because in the aftermath of an attack and increased prices of valuable commodities, for example, after there was an attack on 22 foreigners Saudi Arabia in 2004, the day after the incident crude oil prices rose by USD$2.50 as traders feared a US military strike in the middle east. Countries that suffer from high risks of terrorism have developing economies or unstable circumstances have drastically low investors. As security premium are higher the cost of economic involvement is high deterring foreign investors, potentially leading nations to bankruptcy. A further example of how terrorist attacks have affected an economy is the aftermath of the September 11 where a range of estimates from USD$35 billion to USD$108 billion, of which the clean up cost alone of $1.3 billion; direct job losses amounted to 83,000 and further with $17 billion lost in wages in the proceeding months. One economic aspect can be noted as a positive effect of terrorism, which are the increased job opportunities in military. With escalated threats of terrorist attacks, development of the military increases thus generating more jobs for people. Also with the massive expenditure and development of military arms advancing a lot of economies especially the United States.
Israel is an example of how prolonged low intensity terrorism has affected the Israeli people and the economy. Studies show that terrorism in Israel have caused a depression of economic development as in the volatile and unstable environment consumers have become cynical, corporation’s invest less decreasing supply and the government spends largely on defense and security measures instead of education and healthcare.
Although there are some positive social and economic affects on people, the negative consequences exponentially outweigh the positives, long term impacts that terrorism has on people is catastrophic where the main consequence is loss of life which is an unfathomable tragedy that is experienced globally by all nations regardless if they are developing and developed countries.
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