* Terrorism incidents jumped after 2003 Iraq invasion
* Deaths from terrorism peaked in 2007-study
* More than a third of all victims killed were Iraqi
NEW YORK, Dec 4 (Reuters) - The number of terrorist attacks
each year has more than quadrupled in the decade since September
11, 2001, a study released on Tuesday said, with Iraq, Pakistan
and Afghanistan the most affected.
The number of annual deaths in attacks, however, peaked in
2007 -- the height of the Iraq conflict -- and has been falling
ever since. The survey reported 7,473 fatalities in 2011, 25
percent down on 2007. That figure included dead suicide bombers
and other attackers.
Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Yemen were the five
countries most affected by terrorism in descending order, it
said, based on a measure giving weightings to number of attacks,
fatalities and injuries and level of property damage.
The Global Terrorism Index - published on Tuesday by the
U.S.- and Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace
think tank - ranked countries based on data from the Global
Terrorism Database run by a consortium based at the University
of Maryland, a commonly used reference by security researchers.
The U.S. military interventions pursued as part of the
West's anti-al Qaeda "war on terror", the researchers suggested,
may have simply made matters worse - while whether they made the
U.S. homeland safer was impossible to prove.
IRAQIS ACCOUNT FOR THIRD OF TERRORISM DEATHS
"After 9/11, terrorist activity fell back to pre-2000 levels
until after the Iraq invasion, and has since escalated
dramatically," Steve Killelea, founder and executive chairman of
the Institute for Economics and Peace, told Reuters in an e-mail
"Iraq accounts for about a third of all terrorist deaths
over the last decade, and Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan account
for over 50 percent of fatalities."
The study says terrorism incidents numbered 982 in 2002,
causing 3,823 deaths, rising to 4,564 terrorist incidents
globally in 2011, resulting in 7,473 deaths.
The researchers used the University of Maryland definition
of "terrorism": "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
It did not include casualties from government-backed action
such as aerial bombing or other killings.
The study said its methodology allowed researchers the scope
to exclude actions that could be seen as insurgency, hate crime
or organised crime and incidents about which insufficient
information was available.
The upswing in attacks in both Afghanistan and Pakistan only
occurred after the Iraq war, the study showed, coming at largely
the same time as heightened U.S.-backed military campaigns there
by NATO and the Pakistani government respectively.
SYRIA, YEMEN WORSENING
The findings suggested foreign powers should think twice
before intervening militarily, Killelea said, even in countries
such as Syria, already seeing widespread bloodshed. Unless the
conflict was brought to a swift end, terror attacks might
actually increase, he said.
The greatest deterioration in 2011 took place in Syria and
Yemen, the report said. Yemen has seen a dramatic upsurge in al
Qaeda-linked activity in recent years, while Syrian rebels
fighting President Bashar al-Assad have increasingly turned to
suicide attacks and bombings.
Of the 158 countries surveyed, only 31 had not experienced a
single event classified as a "terrorist act" since 2001, the
report said. Even when the 9/11 attacks on New York and
Washington were taken into account, North America remained the
least-affected region over the period studied.
Western Europeans were 19 times more likely to die in a
terrorist attack than North Americans, the report said. Aside
from the United States - whose rating improved sharply over the
decade as the casualties of 2001 were no longer factored in -
the greatest improvements were seen in Algeria and Colombia.