The 21st century has seen an explosion in acts of terror, incidents of sporadic and brutal violence propagated by radical organizations in the pursuit of some narrow agenda. It has become such a commonplace occurrence that the world is no longer shocked by these acts. People have come to accept such horrific incidents as a part of living in this day and age, and simply express solidarity with whichever region is the next victim. 2015 has begun and ended with high profile acts of terror with several others during the year. It has shaped the discourse of the world and the policies of nations in dealing with certain situations and areas. Here is a look at the major perpetrators of terror across the globe in 2015.
Heinous acts of terror in 2015 by Terrorist outfits:
1. ISIL – Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
Total casualty count in 2015 (estimated): 2079
Deadliest attack this year: Barkh Butan, Kobani Syria – 223-233 casualties
Major attacks this year: Paris attacks, Beirut bombings, Ankara central station bombing, Khan Bani Saad bombing
The terrorist organization that seems to have spring out of nowhere and become a worry for all nations of the world overnight is leading this gruesome list in all counts. ISIL claims to hold worldwide authority over all Muslims and aims to establish a global Caliphate under its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. It is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, which currently holds huge areas of land in Iraq and Syria.
In spite of the high profile acts of terror that ISIL has perpetrated on western soil, its primary target all year round has remained the Middle East. ISIL has claimed responsibility for dozens of bombings in various cities in Iraq in an effort to conquer the embittered country. The favoured mode of attack is usually through suicide bombers or armoured explosive laden Humvees. These tactics have led them to amass a casualty list in the hundreds in this past year alone. The attacks have been focused on Iraqi military forces fighting ISIL insurgents in regions like Ramadi and Anbar, but the capital city of Baghdad has faces several deadly ones too.
Bombs have been set off in Mosques, hospitals, car parks, residential areas, police bases, busy marketplaces, streets, Iraqi security forces’ bases and other regions. Nowhere in Iraq seems to be safe from these attacks. The attacks have been targeted at all those who are considered enemies of the caliphate; anti-jihadi fighters, police, army and areas predominant with Shia Muslims (heretics in the eyes of the Caliphate).
ISIL has been busy in other parts of the Middle East as well, targeting Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Yemen and Lebanon in its war against the world. These attacks have seen hundreds or dozens killed in every single instance, yet go widely unnoticed by the world, even though they are prominently reported by the media and news. Attacks in the Middle East have become frequent and in recent times, commonplace, as if they were the new normal.
Some experts claim that the aim and purpose of these frequent (in some cases nearly daily) attacks, seems to be a modern form of guerrilla warfare against the enemy. ISIL strikes fear into the populace by targeting streets, markets and mosques, and at the same time demoralizes the security forces through suicide bombings, car bombs and other sneaky attacks which are hard to prevent or predict, and extremely hard to resist. The strategy has been applied successfully to this point, yet the group has been of late losing ground due to the combined efforts of security forces, resistance groups and international coalitions.
ISIL will continue to remain a potent force in the Middle East for at least the foreseeable future. They have money, resources and a vast army of recruits willing to die for the cause; a lethal combination of ingredients which has made ISIL a formidable opponent for security forces to engage.
2. Boko Haram
Total casualty count in 2015 (estimated): 1503
Deadliest attack this year: Baga massacre, Nigeria – casualty count between 100-2000
Major attacks this year: Baga massacre, Maiduguri bombings (multiple), Fotokol shootings, Kukawa massacre
Officially Wilayat Gharb Afriqiya, Boko haram is usually loosely translated as “Western Education is forbidden”. They are a group of radical Sunni Muslims operating out of Africa who oppose the westernization of the African countries, primarily Nigeria, their base of operations. In March of this year, they pledged allegiance to ISIL and became the African “Province” of the Caliphate.
Boko Haram has mounted a vicious insurgency in the Western African nations of Nigeria, Niger and Chad causing millions of people to flee from their homes and resulting in thousands of casualties. In January 2015, they overran the headquarters of a Multinational Joint Task Force in Nigeria; the number of dead was estimated to be over 2000. This year alone, the group has been the perpetrator of suicide bombings, shootings and kidnappings on a massive scale.
Since pledging allegiance to ISIL, Boko Haram has also declared an Islamic Caliphate in the African region and is using similar methods as ISIL for execution of their plans. However, their methods seem to be even more gruesome than ISIL. In several of their suicide bombings, the bombers were young girls aged between 10 and 13. They have attacked several villages in the region, burning down houses, kidnapping dozens and generally creating an atmosphere of terror and violence. After declaring the establishment of an Islamic State in northern Nigeria, Boko Haram has stepped up attacks against Shiite Muslim groups and other “infidels”. They have burned churches, villages, attacked religious processions and even slit throats of several security personnel in one particular incident.
In early September, the Director of Information at the Defence Headquarters of Nigeria announced that all Boko Haram camps had been destroyed. However, following this there were several suicide bombings in Niger, Chad, Nigeria and Cameroon for which Boko Haram claimed responsibility. It is uncertain at this point whether the insurgency has been successfully defeated. For now, Boko Haram seems to have resorted to hit and run raids and bombings. The governments of the affected countries are planning a massive offensive against the group, but it has been delayed due to unknown reasons.
Total casualty count in 2015 (estimated): 322
Deadliest attack this year: Garissa University mass shooting – 148 casualties
Major attacks this year: Mogadishu hotel bombing, Garissa University mass shooting, Attack on African Union military base in Leego
The state infamous for modern piracy, Somalia, is also grappling with internal strife, terrorism and insurgency at the hands of Al-Shabaab. Somalia has been in a continuous state of civil war since 1991 with various factions vying for control. It has been called a failed state, though in recent years, there has been an attempt at restructuring and creating a system of government.
The Al-Shabaab militant group has an agenda to overthrow the current government and impose a strict state of Islamic law in the region. It pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012 calling Osama Bin Laden a martyr. It held huge areas of the country until recent years. The current Somali government is being supported by a 22000 strong African Union force with troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. However, despite the setbacks the group has suffered, Al-Shabaab continues to be a dangerous insurgent threat, carrying out attacks in many parts of Somalia, and neighbouring Kenya as retaliation for its part in the AU forces.
In April, Al-Shabaab targeted a Kenyan university in Garissa, killing 148 people and injuring nearly 79 others. It has since made many incursions along the largely porous border between Somalia and Kenya, attacking police vehicles and Kenyan quarry workers. In Somalia, it has attacked hotels popular with diplomats, UN convoys, aid convoys and government buildings. In June, the group attacked and overran an African Union base in southern Somalia killing 50 soldiers. Despite the advances of the security forces, Al-Shabaab has proven its ability to attack in any part of the country at will, creating an unstable security environment.
In 2015, there has been significant infighting between various factions within the group. Early this year, ISIL called on the fighters to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, their self proclaimed Caliph. Al-Shabaab issued an internal memo reaffirming its support for Al-Qaeda and banning discussion on ISIL. It assassinated a group of fighters who had pledged allegiance to the group. Despite encouraging signs that the group might splinter and destroy itself due to infighting, the security threat remains as large as ever.
Total casualty count in 2015 (estimated): 256
Deadliest attack this year: August Kabul bombing – 50+ casualties
Major attacks this year: Nawzad district siege Afghanistan, National Assembly bombing Kabul, Police academy bombing Kabul, Kandahar airport attack, Spanish embassy attack Kabul
Since the NATO security forces withdrew from Afghanistan last year, the Taliban have stepped up violence and the insurgency, proving difficult to handle by the local security forces. They have carried out attacks in Afghanistan and neighbouring Pakistan.
Kabul has borne the brunt of the attacks, with attacks on buses, airports and hotels killing dozens. Despite an attempt at peace talks in Qatar earlier this year, the violence has continued. In June 2015, the Taliban launched an attack on the Parliament, detonating a vehicle just outside the gates killing 2 civilians. In the same month, an international convoy was attacked. In August, an attack was mounted on the Kabul airport and later coordinated attacks were mounted in the city. The current Afghan President has been trying to negotiate peace with the terrorist group, to no avail. Just this December, the Taliban launched another attack on Kandahar airport, killing 60 people. In October the Taliban captured the northern Afghan city of Kunduz and held it for 3 days before being pushed out by security forces.
The Taliban on the one hand seem open to negotiation with the Afghan government, but on the other do not stop the campaign of terror to justify their power. The situation is sticky and might spiral out of control of the NATO trained Afghan forces, which do not quite seem to be up to the challenge.
2015 has seen an explosion of terror and terrorists across the globe and no country seems to be safe. There are numerous other groups and individuals who have perpetrated heinous acts of terror this year. The list is simply too numerous to encompass here. The situation has spiraled out of control in many parts of the world, especially those described herein. There is still hope, though, that international coalitions will come together to not only attack and destroy these groups, but fight the root causes of disease, poverty, and disenfranchisement of the poor. It is these people who turn to terrorism as their last resort and it is them the world need to help the most.
Disclaimer: The number of casualties and attacks are collected from various news and media sources. 10KeyThings is not claiming that these numbers or range are completely right. In fact, we request, please share the exact number or the new range so that we can update our article too. Please do send us the sources too.