The definition of terrorism is, systematic and unlawful acts of violence against non-combatants (civilians) and/or politicians based on ideological, religious, or political motivations with the intent to create the most fear in the population. Revolutionaries, religious groups, nationalistic groups, and some ruling governments participate in terrorism.
Statistica reports that between 2006 and 2015 there were 115,294 terrorist attacks worldwide. That averages to around 11,000 each year. The majority of these attacks happened in Africa and the Middle East. These attacks resulted in 190,198 deaths, which is an average of about 19,000 per year. However, the death count has risen significantly in the most recent years counted.
In 2014, there were 32,763 deaths from terrorist attacks and in 2013 the number of deaths was 28,328. The number of injuries caused by terrorist attacks from 2005 to 2016 was 291,888, which is an average of about 29,000 per year. Just like the recent trend of increasing deaths, there are also increasing injuries. In 2014, there were 34,785 people injured from terrorist attacks and in 2015, the number was even higher at 35,320.
The major terrorist attacks that occurred since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York include:
2002 Bali, Indonesia – A bomb exploded inside a nightclub and then a more powerful car bomb exploded outside the club. The death toll was 202 (including 131 foreign tourists) and 209 more were injured. At the same time, a bomb exploded in front of the U.S. Consulate in Denpasar. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
2003 Istanbul, Turkey – During November of 2003, 19 truck bombs exploded at various locations, killing 114 and wounding over 700 people. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks.
2004 Beslan, Russian Federation – The Beslan School was overrun by a separatist group of Islamic extremists. More than 1,100 people were taken hostage. 777 of the hostages were children. The terrorists demanded that Russia withdraw from Chechnya. The siege lasted for three days until Russia security forces moved in to retake the school. In the aftermath, 385 of the hostages were dead including 186 children.
2004 Madrid, Spain – The 11-M attack occurred on the morning of March 11, 2004. It was the simultaneous bombing of commuter trains using ten bombs in backpacks and gym bags. The bombs were left on the trains and they were triggered by using a cell phone. 192 people died from the attack and around 2,000 were injured. This attack was made by Islamic militants who originated from North Africa and were inspired by Al-Qaeda. 29 people were eventually arrested in connection with this attack; however, only three were found guilty of the most serious charges and sentenced to 40 years in prison.
2005 London, England – In the “7/7” event, four suicide bombers attacked the public transit system killing 52 people and injuring over 700. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack.
2007 Karachi, Pakistan – Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was riding in a motorcade that was attacked. 139 people died and 450 were injured. Bhutto blamed people from her own regime. Her regime blamed Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Two months later, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.
2008 Mumbai, India – Multiple targets were attacked by 10 terrorists simultaneously. The worst attack was in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. 68 people died and more than 308 were injured. The attack was organized by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) with support from the governmental intelligence agency called ISI from Pakistan.
2009 to 2014 Nigeria – The terrorist group Boko Haram killed more than 5,000 people during this period. They abducted more than 500 people to hold them for ransom and kidnapped 276 school girls so the terrorists could rape them.
2014 – Peshawar, Pakistan – The Tehrik-i-Taliban terrorist group attacked a school, took over 1,000 hostages, and ended up killing more than 145 people. 132 who died were school boys. They also injured at least 130 others.
2014 Assam, India – More than 85 people died, which includes 20 children, during an attack on mostly Christians by the National Democratic Front of Bodoland made up of militants from the tribe of the indigenous people from the Bodo area.
2010 to Present Day – ISIS has launched more than 200 attacks in Syria and Iraq, killing untold thousands and injuring tens of thousands. During 2015, ISIS attacked a northern suburb of Paris, France killing 137 and wounding many hundreds of people. This was the sixth terror attack on France in the past three years.
2016 – Brussels, Belgium – The airport and the Metro were both attacked in Brussels during March 2016 by suicide bombers affiliated with ISIS. 32 civilians were killed and 300 people were injured. This was the worst attack in Belgium’s history.
Now that we know what they are capable of doing, here are the fifteen worst terrorist groups in the world.
15. Abu Nadal Organization (ANO)
While not as active now, during the 1980s ANO launched terrorist attacks in 20 countries including countries in Europe, the US, UK, Israel, Palestine, and other Arab countries. This group was a more violent spin-off of radical Palestinian militants who left the more moderate Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The ANO attacked both the Rome and Vienna airports during December 1985. The ANO hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 in Karachi, Pakistan in September 1986. This group attacked a day excursion boat in Greece during July 1988.
When the PLO, which controlled the recognized government of the Palestinians, made it clear it wanted to negotiate a settlement with Israel, this position caused the radical ANO to attack members of the PLO. In 1991, the ANO assassinated Abu Iyad and Abu Hul, who were top PLO officials. An assassination attempt was made on Mahmoud Abbas that failed. Abbas was the PLO Chairman in the 1970s.
The American FBI offers a $5 million reward per wanted person for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any one of these ANO members, which include Jamal Saeed Abdul Rahim, Muhammad Abdullah Khalil Hussain Ar Rahayyal, Muhammad Ahmed Al-Munawar, and Wadoud Muhammad Hafiz Al-Turki.
14. Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT)
The Lashkar-e-Taiba, otherwise known as LeT is a radical Islamic group from Pakistan that wants to bring Islam to Southeast Asia and free those of Islamic faith living in the part of Kashmir that is controlled by India.
This group is responsible for the attack on the historical Red Fort during 2000, an attack on the Srinagar Airport, and the attack on the Indian Parliament during 2001. During 2002, the group attacked Kaluchak, killing 31. In 2003, they attacked Nadimarg, killing 24. During the 2005 Diwali Festival, this terrorist group set off bombs in the crowded festival markets, which killed 60 and injured over 527 others. From the attack, many were permanently maimed with missing limbs and severe damage to the face and other body parts.
During 2006, LeT set off a bomb in Varanasi, killing 37 and seriously injuring 89. That same year, LeT attacked Doda killing 34 people. Also in July 2006 LeT bombed trains in Mumbai, killing 211, maiming 407, and seriously injuring 768 more. During 2008, LeT attacked Mumbai again, which included attacking the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace hotel killing many of the guests and setting the building on fire.
13. Ansar al-Sharia
Ansar al-Sharia started in 2001 during the Libyan Civil War. This group targets American and Libyan civilians. Ansar al-Sharia was responsible for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi during 2012 that killed U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American officials.
Ansar al-Sharia at first denied being responsible for the attack and blamed it on a popular uprising against the trailer for a movie called “Innocence of Muslims,” that portrayed Muslims in a negative way, which they felt was blasphemous. However, witnesses saw trucks with the markings of Ansar al-Sharia at the attack and also saw the leader of Ansar al-Sharia, Ahmed Abu Khattala, leading the attack.
The U.S. caught Ahmed Abu Khattala using a U.S. Delta Force raid in Libya during June 2014 and brought him to the USA, where he will be tried during September 2017. The U.S. will not seek the death penalty; however, if found guilty, he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
12. Abu Sayyaf
The group started as an independent terrorist group in the Philippines during the 1990s. Abu Sayyaf is involved in many criminal activities including child sexual assault, drug trafficking, drive-by shootings, extortion, forced marriage, human trafficking, kidnapping, and rape. Over time it shifted from a purely criminal organization to one that is motivated more by ideology.
Its goal is to establish an independent Islamic state in the southwestern islands of the Philippines. It has carried out many assassinations and bombing attacks. Abu Sayyaf was responsible for the worst terrorist attack in Philippine history, which occurred in 2004. It was the bombing of a super ferry boat, which killed 116 people.
Foreigners that visit the Philippines as tourists or who work as Christian missionaries are kidnapped and held in the jungle camps for a long time until the families pay a ransom. Some of those who are kidnapped die from the harsh conditions of captivity. In 2014, Abu Sayyaf became officially affiliated with ISIS. Now the group kidnaps people to ransom them to raise money for ISIS.
The American FBI has a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of one of the leaders of this group, Isnilon Totoni Hapilon. He is wanted for kidnapping Americans and the murders of the hostages.
11. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony has operated since 1987 in the areas of Uganda, the Central African Republic, Southern Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These are jungle areas and the LRA is constantly on the move, which has made locating the LRA camps difficult.
The LRA is known for kidnapping tens of thousands of children, sexually abusing the young girls, and forcing the young boys to serve as soldiers. It is estimated that the LRA has killed many thousands of those it considers its enemies, including many civilians and children. Kony was charged with war crimes in 2005 and the USA listed him as a terrorist in 2008.
In March 2012, the non-profit Invisible Children Organization released a video called Kony 2012. The YouTube video went viral instantly and had over tens of millions of views in a matter of a few weeks. The goal of the organization was to capture Kony and bring him to justice for crimes against humanity by the end of 2012.
The filmmaker for the Invisible Children Organization, Jason Russell, had a nervous breakdown, which caused him to run out naked into the street and babble like a crazy person. This and the questionable tactics and false information used by the organization led to a complete destruction of the organization’s credibility in the public’s mind. Joseph Kony is still at large.
The good news is that the USA made a very concerted effort to thwart the activities of the LRA and had considerable success. The LRA was estimated to have up to 30,000 to 50,000 members when it was at its greatest strength. This decreased to about 1,000 to 2,000 by 2010 and currently, the estimate is that the members are less than 200. Joseph Kony is on the run, lacking proper support, and he will eventually be caught and tried for his crimes.
10. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is an anti-imperialist, communist group that used guerrilla warfare tactics in an attempt to overthrow the Columbian government with a people’s revolution. FARC is heavily armed and earns money to support its efforts from drug-trafficking. Currently, there is a peace treaty that was signed between FARC and the Columbian government, so there is no active fighting going on right now, as there was in the past.
FARC was established in 1964 as the military division of the Columbian Communist Party. At its height of popularity, about 8,500 civilians were involved. The civilians provided support for the FARC fighter. There were an estimated 20,000 fighters in FARC at its height. There are both male and female squadrons. This number of fighters dwindled to about 6,000 to 8,000 that currently make up FARC.
The leader of FARC is Rodrigo Londono Echeverri, who goes by the moniker of Timochenko. The rebel fighters are mostly farmers from rural areas. Prior to the signing of the peace treaty, FARC conducted many attacks against the Columbian government’s security forces. FARC attacked police stations, ambushed patrols, and attacked military posts. FARC blew up oil pipelines, electrical grid power infrastructure, bridges, and bombed social clubs killing many civilians.
The homemade explosive mortar rockets of FARC have missed targeted police stations and instead hit schools by accident, killing innocent children. Many thousands of people have been maimed by accidentally triggering hidden FARC landmines. FARC kidnapped thousands of people to hold them for ransom. One policeman, Luis Mendieta, who was kidnapped during 1998, was held as a prisoner for 14 years before being rescued by a Columbian government operation. Let’s hope the peace treaty holds and FARC never returns to this kind of terrorism ever again.
9. Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan
Members of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group live on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are led by Mullah Fazlullah. They do not have any official relationship with the Afghanistan Taliban. This group’s mission is to overthrow the Pakistani government to create a Muslim territory run under Sharia Law.
The TTP conducts suicide bombings. They bombed the office of the United Nations in Pakistan and have attacked the army and naval stations of the Pakistani government forces.
In 2010, they attempted a car bombing attack on Times Square, New York. Two street vendors noticed smoke coming from the car that had the bomb and alerted the police. The police immediately cleared the area. The crude homemade bomb contained gasoline, propane, and fireworks. The bomb squad was able to diffuse the bomb before it exploded. Had the bomb gone off in such a busy area, it is likely that hundreds would have been killed.
The man responsible for the bomb, Faisal Shahzad, was a Pakistani immigrant, who had just become a U.S. citizen. He was caught just two days after the incident trying to take a flight to Dubai. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of being paroled. Shahzad was defiant in the courtroom and said if he had 1,000 lives he would give them all to Allah.
8. Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT)
The Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) is mostly known for planning and carrying out the attacks on the Indian Parliament in 2001 and the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India that killed many civilians.
The LeT is supported by ISI, who are the secret police of the Pakistani government. This is one of the reasons why the tensions are so high in the region over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Additionally, both India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons, which means a military confrontation could easily lead to nuclear war. This would be devastating to the region and negatively impact the entire world.
The LeT uses teenage boys of 13 or 14 years old that are recruited from the poorest sections of the slums in order to conduct suicide bombings. The boys are brainwashed and promised fabulous rewards in heaven and that their families will be paid money and be taken well care of if they do the bombings.
The LeT conducted bombings in Delhi, Varanasi, the trains in Mumbai, and the 2008 attack on the Taj Mahal Palace hotel, as well as other targets. LeT gets some of its financial support from Saudi Arabia.
Al-Shabaab started in 2006 to fight foreign military forces from Somalia that are in East Africa. Al-Shabaab also makes raids on neighboring Kenya. Al-Shabaab has an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 fighters and is affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Al-Shabaab is against the Somali government. The Somali government has the support of the United Nations.
Recently a U.S. Navy Seal was killed in a raid on an Al-Shabaab compound. The raid was at Darussalam village and the target of the raid was to capture or kill the Al-Shabaab leader, Abdirahman Mohamed Warsame, who is also known as Mahad Karat. There is a $5 million reward offered by the U.S. for information leading to his capture.
Mahad Karat is responsible for the attack on the Garissa University College in Kenya, which killed 148 people (142 were students) and injuring more than 79 others. In this attack, the terrorists took over 700 people hostage, freeing Muslims, and killing all the Christians. There were five attackers. The siege lasted close to 15 hours. Four of the attackers were shot and the fifth exploded his suicide vest killing some of the nearby Kenyan commandos, along with himself.
6. Kataib Hezbollah (KH)
This terrorist group was created by Shia Muslim clerics (led by Ayatollah Khomeini from Iran). Their home base is in Lebanon. They are very destructive. Large groups of these terrorists attack a home at night and drag the young men that they find there to a nearby field, torture them, and then shoot them in the head.
The Kataib Hezbollah (KH) fought the U.S. invasion forces during the Iraq war. Their most popular technique for killing Americans was to use explosive devices called IUDs and plant them on the roads that were used by the American military personal.
The U.S. has a $5 million reward per person for information leading to the arrest of any of these men: Abdelkarim Hussein Mohamed Al-Nasser, Ahmad Ibrahim Al Mughassil, Ali Atwa, Ali Saed Bin Ali El Hoorie, Hasan Izz Al-Din, Ibrahim Salih Mohammed Al-Yacoub, and Mohammed Ali Hamadei.
Currently, the KH is involved in fighting ISIS in order to re-take Iraqi territory that is now under control of ISIS. KH members are Shia Muslims and they frequently attack and kill Sunni Muslims. The KH also kidnaps Sunnis and holds them for ransom, threatening their death if their families do not come up with enough money for their freedom.
In order to defeat ISIS, there are times when the U.S. has to work with the KH members, even though the KH was an enemy of the U.S. during the Iraqi war. This means the U.S. works with known terrorists (the KH) in order to eliminate other terrorists (ISIS). This relationship makes for some very strange combinations of allied forces. An example of this is the combined forces used to capture Amerli from ISIS. The forces used included Iran-backed militia groups, Kurdish ground forces, the KH, and U.S. warplanes and jet fighters.
5. Boko Haram
Boko Haram is the most feared terrorist group based in West Africa that is operating in Nigeria. They are affiliated with Al-Qaeda, which supplies them with financial support. The founder of this group is Mohammed Yusuf.
Boko Haram raided a boarding school located in Chibok on the border of Nigeria. They kidnapped around 300 schoolgirls to use for forced marriages and forced them to be in compliance with the Boko Haram principles. They are extremely intolerant of any Western teachings. Boko Haram translates into English as “western education is sin.”
Boko Haram has burned entire villages to the ground, while shooting the inhabitants or letting them burn to death, watching them scream as they die. The Nigerian government is powerless to stop them. Boko Haram executes people who indulge in non-Islamic practices, such as drinking alcohol. During June 2011, Boko Haram bombed the UN headquarters in Abuja. Between 2009 and 2014 Boko Haram killed about 5,000 civilians.
Mullah Mohammed Omar founded the Taliban in 1994. The Taliban makes money from drug trafficking and human trafficking. It is estimated the Taliban’s annual revenues are close to $400 million. Most of the money comes from growing poppies, which creates the substance needed to make heroin. The Taliban also receives support from Al-Qaeda.
The Taliban formed in response to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. Forces from the USA worked with the Taliban to free Afghanistan from the Soviet Union. The U.S. trained Osama Bin Laden at this time as part of the Taliban-Afghani “freedom fighters.” Bid Laden would form Al-Qaeda, many years later, and attack the U.S.
When the troops from the Soviet Union left Afghanistan and the Taliban took over, the Taliban imposed strict Sharia law. After that, the Taliban perpetrated some of the worst human rights violations against the Afghan people, such as ethnic cleansing, human trafficking, and raping women. Many innocent people died in the name of jihad when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. Even though the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan removed the Taliban’s control of the country, the Taliban still exists and the deaths continue.
One subgroup of the Taliban is the Haqqani Network that conducts highly coordinated terrorist attacks on Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The Haqqani Network controls the eastern border of Afghanistan and determines who can cross the border. Besides having a strong relationship with Al-Qaeda, they have good relations with other terrorist groups, such as the Pakistani Taliban, the Quetta Shura Taliban, the Turkistan Islamic Party, and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks during 2001 on the World Trade Center in New York. Al-Qaeda was founded in 1989 by Osama Bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam, and other Wahhabi militants. Al-Qaeda was also responsible for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings, and the 2002 Bali bombings.
After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. hunted for Bin Laden for many years. In May 2012, U.S. special forces finally found him hiding in Pakistan and killed him during a daring night raid. Now, Al-Qaeda is being run by Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaeda has operations and sympathizers in many countries. The USA is offering $25 million for information leading to al-Zawahiri’s capture.
The al-Nusra Front is a branch of Al-Qaeda operating in Lebanon and Syria. Its leader is Abu Mohammad al-Julani and it is the group offering the most support to rebels fighting the civil war with the military from the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The USA supplied weapons to this group because it is fighting both ISIS and the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Once again, the U.S. is working with terrorists to fight other terrorists.
2. ISIS, ISIL (The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), DAESH, or the Islamic State
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant goes by many names, which include the Islamic State, ISIL, DAESH, and ISIS. To be consistent, we used ISIS throughout this article when referring to this group. ISIS is one of the world’s worst terrorist groups. ISIS has 80,000 or more members. Over 30,000 are active fighters. ISIS recruits children and teenagers as fighters and to use as suicide bombers.
ISIS occupies parts of western Syria and northern Iraq. They also operate in Palestine, other parts of the Middle East, and have made attacks on Paris. They control territory roughly equivalent to the size of Belgium.
ISIS has established an Islamic caliphate with Sharia law using the most brutal methods, such as public beheadings and mass killings. ISIS killed over 250 Syrian troops in a mass execution when they captured the al-Tabqa air base. ISIS killed around 200 Iraqi tribesmen all at once in Ramadi because ISIS considered them to be competition.
ISIS earns abut $1 million per day to fund its operations from selling crude oil obtained from the area it controls. ISIS is also involved in selling stolen artifacts, drug trafficking, and human trafficking.
1. USA Drone Strikes
It may surprise some that the USA Drone Strikes are on this list as a terrorist act. However, they meet all the criteria of the definition of terrorism, if seen through the eyes of those being attacked.
The definition is, if you recall, “Terrorism is systematic and unlawful acts of violence against non-combatants (civilians) and/or politicians based on ideological, religious, or political motivations with the intent to create the most fear in the population.”
Under US Federal Law Title 22 U.S. Code § 2656f (d) (2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets.
Under US Federal Law Title 8 U.S. Code § 11823 (B) (iii) the term “terrorist activity” means any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed (or which, if it had been committed in the United States, would be unlawful under the laws of the United States or any State) and which involves any of the following:
(b) explosive, firearm, or other weapon or dangerous device (other than for mere personal monetary gain), with intent to endanger, directly or indirectly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property.
What makes these drone strikes terrorism is that they are unlawful in the countries where they are used. The attacks are premeditated, politically motivated, acts of violence against combatants and civilians.
In July 2016, the White House released the figures of the number of combatants and the number of civilian deaths that were caused by drone strikes during 2009 to 2015. There were 473 strikes that killed between 2,372 and 2,581 combatants. The US government estimated that 64 to 116 civilians had been killed during that same period from the drone strikes.
Independent investigators, such as thebureauinvestigates.com put the number of civilian deaths much higher and estimated they were 380 to 801 deaths of civilians caused by drone strikes during that period.
The U.S. government uses the euphemism of “collateral damage,” to describe civilian deaths in association with a military strike made by the U.S. Regardless of the actual number of deaths, it is clear that civilians are being killed in these drone strikes. Since that is a known fact; the ordering of a drone strike is intentionally ordering the killing of civilians along with the combatants.
When President Obama started using drone strikes in Yemen, the first mission was a complete disaster. The U.S. believed it was targeting members of Al-Qaeda. They were mistaken. The bomb from the drone hit the storage of cluster weapons held by a tribe. The massive explosion killed 55 civilians. 21 who died were children. Ten of those children were less than five years old. Twelve of the deaths were women and five of the women were pregnant.
Some might argue that the killing of civilians is not intentional. However; when a bomb is used to kill a terrorist target and there are civilians in the same area, the satellite surveillance shows that the civilians are there. Using a bomb in such a case is an intentional act to kill both the terrorists and the civilians that are too close to the target zone.
Mistakes are made. On July 6, 2008, a drone strike hit a wedding party in Afghanistan killing 47 civilians and wounding another nine. Those who were killed included the bride. 39 of the civilian deaths in this drone strike were women and children. Eight were teenagers.
On December 12, 2013, it happened again. A U.S. drone strike hit a wedding party in Yemen. The U.S. thought the group contained Al-Qaeda operatives. This strike killed 12 innocent civilians. Newsweek reports that the U.S. denied what happened, then tried to cover it up, and paid $1 million of “hush” money in cash to the families of those who were killed.
The people who live in an area where drones have been used to bomb them are terrified of the drone attacks because drones fly at such a high altitude that they cannot see the drones or hear them. An attack comes as a complete surprise and without warning of any kind. The terror is ongoing and inescapable. For those people, the USA is seen as a terrorist.
American invaded Iraq based on false pretenses. Now, Americans use drones to make stealth attacks that can happen anywhere, at any time, and where innocent people are killed, including children. This is why there is so much hatred of Americans in the Middle East and one of the reasons used by Islamic extremists as justification for the jihad.
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