Mexico and the US in Risk of Terrorism: Global Terrorism Index


It aggregates the most authoritative data source on terrorism today, the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) into a composite score in order to provide an ordinal ranking of nations on the negative impact of terrorism. The GTD is unique in that it consists of systematically and comprehensively coded data on domestic as well as international terrorist incidents and now includes more than 125,000 cases. Given the resources committed to counter-terrorism efforts internationally, it is important to analyse and aggregate available data related to terrorism to better understand its various properties such as:

The differing socio-economic conditions under which it occurs.

The geopolitical drivers associated with terrorism and ideological aims of terrorists groups.


The types of strategies deployed, tactical terrorist targets and how these evolve over time. In this context, one of the key aims of the GTI is to examine these trends to help inform a positive and practical debate about the future of terrorism and the required policy responses. The GTI was developed in consultation with the GPI Expert Panel, and in particular with the advice of Expert Panel member and terrorism expert Dr Ekaterina Stepanova, Head of the Peace and Conflict Studies Unit at the Institute of World Economy & International Relations.Defining terrorism is not a straightforward matter.


There is no single internationally accepted definition of what constitutes terrorism, and the terrorism literature abounds with competing definitions and typologies. IEP accepts the terminology and definitions agreed to by the authors of the GTD, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) researchers and its advisory panel. The GTI therefore 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.” This definition recognises that terrorism is not only the physical act of an attack, but also the psychological impact it has on a society for many years after. In order to be included as an incident in the GTD the act has to be: “an intentional act of violence or threat of violence by a non-state actor.” This means an incident has to meet three criteria in order for it to be counted as a terrorist act:

1.The incident must be intentional – the result of a conscious calculation on the part of a perpetrator.

2.The incident must entail some level of violence or threat of violence — including property violence, as well as violence against people.

3.The perpetrators of the incidents must be sub-national actors. This database does not include acts of state terrorism.


In addition to this baseline definition, two of the following three criteria have to be met in order to be included in the START database from 1997:

The violent act was aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious, or social goal.

The violent act included evidence of an intention to coerce, intimidate, or convey some other message to a larger audience (or audiences) other than the immediate victims.

The violent act was outside the precepts of international humanitarian law.In cases where there is insufficient information to make a definitive distinction about whether it is a terrorist incident within the confines of the definition, the database codes these incidents as ‘doubt terrorism proper’. In order to only count unambiguous incidents of terrorism, the GTI does not include doubted incidents. It is important to understand how incidents are counted. According to the GTD codebook: “incidents occurring in both the same geographic and temporal point will be regarded as a single incident, but if either the time of the occurrence of the incidents or their locations are discontinuous, the events will be regarded as separate incidents.” Illustrative examples from the GTD codebook are as follows:

Four truck bombs explode nearly simultaneously in different parts of a major city. This represents four incidents.

A bomb goes off, and while police are working on the scene the next day, they are attacked by terrorists with automatic weapons. These are two separate incidents, as they were not continuous, given the time lag between the two events.

A group of militants shoot and kill five guards at a perimeter checkpoint of a petroleum refinery and then proceeds to set explosives and destroy the refinery. This is one incident since it occurred in a single location (the petroleum refinery) and was one continuous event.

A group of hijackers diverts a plane to Senegal and, while at an airport in Senegal, shoots two Senegalese policemen.

This is one incident, since the hijacking was still in progress at the time of the shooting and hence the two events occurred at the same time and in the same place.

Putting terrorism in context

  • Around five per cent of all the 107,000 terrorist fatalities since 2000 have occurred in OECD countries.
  • Homicide claims 40 times more people globally than terrorism with 437,000 lives lost due tohomicide in 2012, compared to 11,000 terroristdeaths in 2012.
  • Approximately 50 per cent of terrorist attacks claim no lives.
  • The long term indirect costs of terrorism can be 10to 20 times larger than the direct costs.

Key trends

  • In 2013 more than 80 per cent of the lives lost to terrorism occurred in only five countries; Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.
  • The largest year-on-year increase in deaths from terrorism was recorded between 2012 and 2013increasing from 11,133 to 17,958.
  • 102 of 162 countries covered in this studyexperienced no deaths from terrorism in 2013,while 60 countries recorded one or more deaths from terrorism.
  • 87 countries experienced a terrorist incident in2013, slightly up from 81 in 2012.
  • The number of countries experiencing over 50deaths in one year hit an all-time high in 2013 at24, five greater than the previous high of 19countries in 2008.

Source: Institute for Economics and Peace

The Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank dedicated to shifting theworld’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable, and tangible measure of human well-being and progress.IEP achieves its goals by developing new conceptual frameworks to define peacefulness; providing metrics for measuringpeace; and uncovering the relationships between business, peace and prosperity as well as promoting a betterunderstanding of the cultural, economic and political factors that create peace.IEP has offices in Sydney, New York and Oxford. It works with a wide range of partners internationally and collaborateswith intergovernmental organizations on measuring and communicating the economic value of peace.
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