What happened to Islamic terrorism in 2018?


From Wikipedia, I gathered the following data (for the European Union):

2015: 17 attacks by Islamists with 150 deaths.

2016: 10 attacks by Islamists with 135 deaths.

2017: 10 attacks by Islamists with 62 deaths.

2018: 4 attacks by Islamists with 9 deaths.

What is the reason for this massive reduction in Islamist terror attacks? Is it possibly related to improved intelligence and ability to prevent attacks? Is it related to the fall of ISIS? Or is 2018 just an outlier?


Posted 2018-11-28T20:35:58.230

Reputation: 81

3This is an interesting trend. Can you include a reference to the provided figures? – Alexei – 2018-11-28T21:15:45.333

For a really in-depth answer I guess we will have to wait for EUROPEAN UNION TERRORISM SITUATION AND TREND REPORT 2019 which will provide an overview of the nature and volume of terrorism that the EU faced in 2018 (source)

– Alexei – 2018-11-28T21:18:02.437

There was a spike in worldwide terrorism in 2014 (source).

– Rebecca J. Stones – 2018-11-29T01:33:42.087

2They've used up the limited number of jihadists willing to engage in suicide attacks? – jamesqf – 2018-11-29T04:26:50.150

3Have you considered that 2015/16 was an outlier? The number of mass casualty events is low enough to make statistics difficult. Also, counting may be an issue. If a Muslim with a history of mental health issues kills somebody, do investigators look for evidence of Islamist connections or do they look at the medical records first? – o.m. – 2018-11-29T06:41:22.213

1Assad's government is now close to finally ending the insurgency in Syria, which should bring peace to the entire region. – JonathanReez – 2018-11-29T21:39:13.003

@JonathanReez - that was tongue-in-cheek, right? – PoloHoleSet – 2018-11-29T22:19:22.477

@PoloHoleSet nope, that's the reality of things. Syria was a major source of instability in the Middle East, which spilled over to Europe as well. Once the war is over the number of terrorist attacks can be expected to go down. – JonathanReez – 2018-11-29T22:47:15.907

@JonathanReez: Seems to me that it's the other way around. If peace comes to Syria &c, the various Islamic groups involved in the fighting will be free to turn their attention away from each other, and perhaps organize new attacks on the west. – jamesqf – 2018-11-30T06:33:04.833

@JonathanReez - Okay, terrorist attacks going down, I can see. I have trouble extending that to "bring peace to the entire region," but I guess we'll see about that, one way or the other. – PoloHoleSet – 2018-11-30T13:26:01.113

@PoloHoleSet Syria of 2010 was a lot more peaceful than Syria of today, no matter what you think or Assad. – JonathanReez – 2018-11-30T17:12:48.670

@JonathanReez - My comment was more about other ongoing, seemingly intractable issues not originating in Syria (West Bank, most prominently) when looking at "the entire region." It's a somewhat semantic difference, where we're probably thinking of a different scope when thinking "region." – PoloHoleSet – 2018-11-30T20:03:36.123

Let's notice that this is not necessarily a good thing. For instance, they could have reduced their activity as they deem to have achieved their goals - whatever those are. – Luís Henrique – 2019-01-03T10:00:41.547



The first thing to note given your question, in which you cite the number of deaths from terror attacks as well as the number of terrorist attacks by Jihadists, is that each of these years 2015 and 2016 had a single event that accounted for the majority of your cited deaths in Europe for each year. The November 15 Paris Attack in 2015 and the Nice Truck Attack in 2016, which accounted for 137 and 87 deaths respectively. In your gauging of what constitutes a spike and decline of terror attacks you'll need to decide which metrics are the most helpful for interpreting this data.

A metric perhaps less susceptible to being skewed by one large attack or several small attacks would be the number of actual suspects arrested. Below you can see a graph for number of suspects arrested over time 2013-2017 (source) enter image description here

As you stated there was a decline in 2018. Though the report from this source for this year will not be released for some time, it appears as though the decline is significant.

While it may seem logical to tie together the European migrant crisis to this, in sources I've been able to find the perpetrators of the worst attacks were European nationals who had been radicalized, and not radicals who snuck in with refugees. Though it would be unsurprising if inflamed tensions as a result of the migrant crisis aided in the radicalization of some attackers.

The most logical deduction explaining the rise and fall of Jihadist terror attacks in Europe during this time frame follows the rise and fall of ISIS, which claims responsibility for most of the attacks during the time frame of 2014-2017, and was most prominent as an entity during this time frame.

EUROPOL (The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation) is the EU agency which combats these threats, and collects and disseminates info surrounding them. A summary of their observed trends as of 2018 can be found here.


Posted 2018-11-28T20:35:58.230

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