Terrorism vs. the West: an age of extremes


Western democracies experienced 68 terrorist attacks in 2017, highlighting a threat increasingly generated not by a single form of extremism but by various extremist ideologies, according to a new analysis.

Despite their divergent worldviews, there are commonalities between the extremists driving terrorism, notes the report by the London-based Henry Jackson Society – Terrorism in the West: an age of extremes. Those who perpetrate these attacks have chosen to step outside of the democratic system as a means to achieve their objectives. Almost invariably they adhere to ideologies that fundamentally reject the liberal way of life that Western democracies have sought to maintain, says the report’s author, Tom Wilson (above):

  • The number of far right terrorist attacks across the West quadrupled between 2016 and 2017.
  • But 84% of all terrorism fatalities werecaused by Islamists despite the rising threat of far right terrorism.
  • 8% of Islamists who launched Western terrorist attacks were previously known to authorities whereas just 4% of far right attackers were – suggesting a serious intelligence gap on the behalves of the security services.
  • Far left and far right terrorism together made up 41% of terrorism across the West in 2017 – almost equalling Islamist inspired terrorism which constituted 45.8% of all attacks.
  • Military personnel are increasingly coming under attack, with 10% of all attacks in the West having a military target – up from 3% in 2016.
  • Terrorism is up across the West by 9%.
  • The number of terrorist attacks aimed at the UK increased from 5 to 13 of which the number of Islamist attacks increased from 2 to 6.  The number of separatist/nationalist attacks also rose from 2 to 6.
  • 7% of Islamist Assailants were either immigrants or visitors (illegally or legally) to the country they attacked.
  • As the UK in particular knows to its cost, there has been a significant increase in the use of vehicles as weapons, with a tripling in the number of attacks involving vehicles between 2016 and 2017.


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