Public health restrictions have limited the threat in 2020. Outside of conflict zones, incidents that have occurred have most commonly been lone attackers, Aon said in a global terrorism and pandemic report as part of its Terrorism & Political Violence Risk Map coverage.
In western countries, there was a 53 per cent drop in 2020 of far-right extremist terrorist incidents and an even greater fall in the number of casualties from attacks, suggesting a lack of targeting means and opportunities due to Covid-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, attacks by far-left extremist terrorist groups fell in South Asia (-35 per cent), Latin America (-46 per cent) and Asia Pacific (-12 per cent). This may partly be due to lockdowns, although ceasefires in Colombia and the Philippines were significant factors. Conversely, in Europe, far-left extremist incidents increased by 42 per cent, with the proportion targeting businesses rising from 35 per cent in 2019 to more than 50 per cent in 2020.
Terrorist attacks could rise in the coming months
The incidence of terrorist attacks looks likely to rise in more developed countries soon, as lockdowns are easing. Pent-up grievances, online radicalisation, a desire for groups to re-establish themselves, and more targeting opportunities all look likely to combine into a worsening threat landscape in the latter half of 2021.
In most regions, a single country or a small number of countries and territories account for a significant majority of terrorist incidents recorded in that region. These are the Philippines in Asia Pacific, Mali and Egypt in North Africa, Iraq and Syria in the Middle East, Afghanistan, India and to a lesser extent Pakistan in South Asia, and Chile and Colombia in Latin America. Meanwhile in Europe, incidents in France, Germany, Greece and the UK accounted for almost all attacks in 2020.