New report: 66% of terror attacks occur in Europe

A new analysis of global terrorism shows that in 2016, two-third of all terrorist attacks took place in Europe, including the UK and Turkey. The data were collected and analysed by insurance company Pool Reinsurance, who currently underwrite over £2 trillion of exposure to terrorism risk in commercial property across the UK mainland.

In 2016, a total of 115 acts of terrorism took place worldwide, causing 779 deaths and 3,044 injuries. Out of those 115 attacks, the majority (66%) took place within Europe, including Turkey, and these resulted in 557 deaths and around 2,471 injuries.

ISIS claimed four of the top five most fatal attacks in 2016. Those four Daesh attacks resulted in the deaths of 225 people. The most lethal attack took place in Nice, France, causing 86 deaths and 433 injuries.

Vehicle attacks

This was the worst instance of a terrorist using a vehicle, driven at high speeds, against large crowds of people in Europe. It is likely the attack highlighted the effectiveness of this methodology, as it was subsequently followed by the truck attack in Berlin in December 2016, which caused the third highest number of deaths in mainland Europe. Both of these attacks were carried out by lone actors. Recently, the truck method was again applied in the Barcelona attack at the Ramblas.

Lone wolves

Out of the 115 attacks in 2016, 72 can be assessed for how many perpetrators were involved. Of these attacks, 51 (71%) were carried out by lone actors and 21 (29%) were carried out by more than one person. Islamist extremists, whether acting by themselves or with others, represented the biggest threat.

Insurance company Pool Reinsurance writes in their report (pdf):

We are now witnessing lone actors and small groups increasingly using low sophistication technology, such as knives and vehicles as weapons, to inflict mass casualties. But we also cannot discount more sophisticated attacks, as demonstrated by Salman Abedi in Manchester, who made and used a viable home-made explosive device—a capability and expertise not seen in Great Britain since 7/7. Nor can we ignore the threat of a spectacular attack by al Qaeda (AQ), against an iconic site or the aviation sector, which would cause catastrophic damages, multiple casualties and a macro loss to the insurance market.