National Counterterrorism Center: Annex of Statistical Information

Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
July 31, 2012


The National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) was created in 2004 to ensure, in part, that U.S. government agencies have appropriate access to and receive the intelligence necessary to accomplish their assigned missions. NCTC is the U.S. government's central and shared knowledge bank on international terrorism and, in this capacity, NCTC provides the Department of State with statistical information to assist it in completing the annual Country Reports on Terrorism (CRT).

Title 22, Section 2656f of the United States Code (U.S.C.) requires the Department of State to include in its annual report, "to the extent practicable, complete statistical information on the number of individuals, including United States citizens and dual nationals, killed, injured, or kidnapped by each terrorist group during the preceding calendar year." In compiling the figures of terrorist incidents that are included in the CRT, NCTC uses the definition of terrorism found in Title 22, which provides that terrorism is "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents." (See, 22 U.S.C. § 2656f(d)[2]).

NCTC maintains its statistical information on the U.S. government's authoritative and unclassified database on terrorist acts, the Worldwide Incidents Tracking System (WITS). The primary function of WITS is to provide terrorism statistics to the Department of State for preparation of its annual report. WITS uses a well-defined methodology that involves documented coding practices for categorizing and enumerating relevant statistics. WITS is accessible on the NCTC Web site,, providing the public with a transparent view of the NCTC data. The data posted to the website is updated on a quarterly basis, pursuant to a rigorous 90-day review and vetting process.

The statistical material in this unclassified report is drawn from terrorism incidents that occurred in 2011, as reported in open source information. This open source material is the most comprehensive resource that NCTC can use to compile and provide the statistical data necessary for the Department of State to fulfill its legislative reporting requirements.

While open source material provides an unparalleled expanse of information, the credibility of sources may vary. For example, the ability of WITS to provide specific details on incident victims, the perpetrators responsible, or the extent of the damage incurred is limited by access to reliable open-source reporting. Additionally, annual comparisons of the total number of global attacks do not indicate the international community's rate of effectiveness at preventing attacks or reducing terrorist capacity.

As such, this Annex is provided for general statistical purposes only. Observations made on this statistical material relating to the frequency, intensity, or nature of the incidents are offered only as part of the analytic work of NCTC and may not reflect the assessments of other U.S. government departments and agencies. Nothing in this report should be construed as a determination that individuals associated with incidents have been found guilty of terrorism or criminal offense.

The reader is encouraged to use this Annex as a guide to review publicly reported annual terrorist activity. Tracking terrorist incidents helps to understand important characteristics, patterns, and trends that surround terrorism, and helps to advance analysis and research. The ultimate goal in following incidents as they occur, however, is to maintain global awareness of the persistent threat terrorism poses and the critical need to secure its defeat.



  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Attacks worldwide 14,415 11,663 10,968 11,641 10,283
Attacks resulting in at least 1 death, injury, or kidnapping 11,085 8,361 7,874 8,259 7,453
Attacks resulting in the death of at least 10 individuals 353 234 236 193 193
Attacks resulting in the death of at least 1 individual 7,229 5,040 4,761 4,704 4,502
Attacks resulting in the death of only 1 individual 3,982 2,870 2,695 2,691 2,550
Attacks resulting in the death of 0 individuals 7,186 6,623 6,207 6,937 5,781
Attacks resulting in the injury of at least 1 individual 6,231 4,831 4,530 4,724 4,333
Attacks resulting in the kidnapping of at least 1 individual 1,156 948 882 1,118 795
People killed, injured or kidnapped as a result of terrorism, worldwide 71,803 54,290 58,720 49,928 43,990
People killed as a result of terrorism, worldwide 22,720 15,709 15,311 13,193 12,533
People injured as a result of terrorism, worldwide 44,103 33,901 32,660 30,684 25,903
People kidnapped as a result of terrorism, worldwide 4,980 4,680 10,749 6,051 5,554



  2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
Attacks in Iraq 6,210 3,255 2,458 2,687 2,265
Attacks in Iraq resulting in at least 1 death, injury, or kidnapping 5,575 2,900 2,179 2,358 2,158
People killed, injured, or kidnapped as a result of terrorism in Iraq 44,014 19,077 16,869 15,108 12,192
Attacks in Afghanistan 1,122 1,219 2,124 3,346 2,872
Attacks in Afghanistan resulting in at least 1 death, injury, or kidnapping 889 950 1,451 2,060 1,846
People killed, injured, or kidnapped as a result of terrorism in Afghanistan 4,647 5,488 7,588 9,035 9,171

Attacks are limited to attacks against noncombatant targets. Numbers represented in table for 2007 through 2010 have been updated since the 2010 publication and are based on data in the Worldwide Incidents Tracking Systems


Overarching Trends

Over 10,000 terrorist attacks occurred in 2011, affecting nearly 45,000 victims in 70 countries and resulting in over 12,500 deaths. The total number of worldwide attacks in 2011, however, dropped by almost 12 percent from 2010 and nearly 29 percent from 2007. Although the 2011 numbers represent five-year lows, they also underscore the human toll and geographic reach of terrorism. The Near East and South Asia continued to experience the most attacks, incurring just over 75 percent of the 2011 total. In addition, Africa and the Western Hemisphere experienced five-year highs in the number of attacks, exhibiting the constant evolution of the terrorist threat.

  • The Near East and South Asia suffered 7,721 attacks and 9,236 deaths. The majority of those occurred in just three countries — Afghanistan , Iraq and Pakistan — which, together, accounted for 85 percent of attacks in these regions and almost 64 percent of attacks worldwide. While attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq decreased from 2010 by 14 and 16 percent, respectively, attacks in Pakistan increased by 8 percent.1
  • Africa experienced 978 attacks in 2011, an 11.5 percent increase over 2010. This is attributable in large part to the more aggressive attack tempo of the Nigeria-based terrorist group Boko Haram, which conducted 136 attacks in 2011­ — up from 31 in 2010.
  • Attacks in Europe and Eurasia fell 20 percent from 703 in 2010 to 561 in 2011. The greatest decline occurred in Russia where terrorist attacks were down from 396 in 2010 to 238 in 2011. In contrast, Turkey experienced a spike in terrorist attacks, rising from 40 in 2010 to 91 in 2011. Together, Russia and Turkey suffered almost 70 percent of all 2011 terrorism-related deaths in Europe and Eurasia .
  • The number of terrorist attacks in East Asia and the Pacific declined for the fifth consecutive year, falling 25 percent from 724 in 2010 to 543 in 2011, and 62 percent from the peak of 1,423 in 2007. Thailand and the Philippines continued to be the primary terrorist targets in the region.
  • Terrorist attacks in the Western Hemisphere rose nearly 40 percent from 343 in 2010 to 480 in 2011, the vast majority of which were ascribed to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).


Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third consecutive year. More than 5,700 incidents were attributed to Sunni extremists, accounting for nearly 56 percent of all attacks and about 70 percent of all fatalities. Among this perpetrator group, al-Qa‘ida (AQ) and its affiliates were responsible for at least 688 attacks that resulted in almost 2,000 deaths, while the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan conducted over 800 attacks that resulted in nearly 1, 900 deaths. Secular, political, and anarchist groups were the next largest category of perpetrators, conducting 2,283 attacks with 1,926 fatalities, a drop of 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, from 2010.

  • Attacks by AQ and its affiliates increased by 8 percent from 2010 to 2011. A significant increase in attacks by al-Shabaab, from 401 in 2010 to 544 in 2011, offset a sharp decline in attacks by al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI) and a smaller decline in attacks by al-Qa‘ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qa‘ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
  • The most active of the secular, political, and anarchist groups in 2011 included the FARC (377 attacks), the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) (351 attacks), the New People's Army/Communist Party of the Philippines (NPA-CPP) (102 attacks), and the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) in Turkey (48 attacks).

Notable 2011 Sunni Extremist Attacks Cataloged in WITS:

  • On June 3, in Sanaa , Yemen , suspected AQAP members bombed the Presidential Palace, injuring President Ali Abdallah Salih and Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Mujawar, and killing and injuring 16 members of their entourage and bodyguards. This was the only attack in 2011 where a sitting head of state was wounded.
  • On August 26, in Abuja , Nigeria , Boko Haram conducted its first attack against a foreign target with a suicide Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED) attack on the United Nations compound in Abuja , Nigeria , killing 12 UN staff members and 12 others and wounding 115 persons. This is the largest terrorist attack in the country to date.
  • On September 20, in Kabul , Afghanistan , a suspected Taliban suicide bomber detonated an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at the residence of the former President of Afghanistan and current Peace Council Chief, killing the Peace Council Chief and five others and wounding several civilians.
  • On October 4, in Mogadishu , Somalia , a suspected al-Shabaab suicide bomber drove a truck into a government compound and detonated a VBIED, killing 91 civilians and nine children and wounding 164 civilians and children. This incident resulted in the most total victims of any single attack during 2011.

Other Notable Attacks Cataloged in WITS:

  • On March 13, in Nzako , Central African Republic , suspected Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) assailants attacked the village, killing 12 civilians, kidnapping more than 100 others (including children) and setting fire to and looting the village.
  • On July 22, in Oslo , Norway , a politically-motivated lone wolf first detonated a VBIED outside the Prime Minister's office, killing seven government employees and one civilian and wounding 30 other civilians. Two hours later, on Utoya Island , the same assailant fired upon a Norwegian Labor Party-associated youth camp, killing 67 people and two police officers and injuring 66 others.

Types of Attacks

Armed attacks and bombings constituted nearly 80 percent of all terrorist attacks in 2011. Suicide attacks accounted for just 2.7 percent of terrorist attacks last year but 21 percent of all terrorism-related fatalities, a fact that underscores their extreme lethality. IEDs were the most frequently used and deadliest terrorist weapon employed.

  • The number of bombings has remained relatively consistent over the past five years, ranging between approximately 4,000 and 4,500 annually. In contrast, the number of armed attacks has steadily decreased from a high of 7,958 in 2007 to 4,290 in 2011.
  • Suicide attacks rose from 264 in 2010 to 279 in 2011. In spite of the increase, this represents a sharp drop from the five-year peak of 520 suicide attacks in 2007. Sunni extremists conducted 93 percent of suicide attacks.
  • Terrorism-related kidnapping events and deaths, 978 and 576, respectively, hit five-year lows.

Victims of Attacks

Over 12,000 people were killed by terrorist attacks in 2011. The overall number of victims killed, however, decreased 5 percent from 2010. More than half of the people killed in 2011 were civilians and 755 were children. Although terrorism deaths decreased, the number of government representative and security force fatalities increased significantly. Muslims continued to bear the brunt of terrorism , while attacks targeting Christians dropped nearly 4 5 percent from a five-year high in 2010.

  • Although civilians were the largest single group of victims killed in terrorist attacks, their numbers over the past five years in proportion to the total number of deaths have gone down by 13 percent, decreasing from a 2007 high of 64 percent.
  • The number of government employees and contractors killed in 2011 increased by over 60 percent from 2010, while the number of government officials killed in 2011 increased by over 13 percent. The number of police killed in 2011 also increased by over 15 percent.
  • In cases where the religious affiliation of terrorism casualties could be determined, Muslims suffered between 82 and 97 percent of terrorism-related fatalities over the past five years.
  • Muslim majority countries bore the greatest number of attacks involving 10 or more deaths, with Afghanistan sustaining the highest number (47), followed by Iraq (44), Pakistan (37), Somalia (28), and Nigeria (12).
  • Afghans also suffered the largest number of fatalities overall with 3,245 deaths, followed by Iraqis (2,958), Pakistanis (2,038), Somalis (1,013), and Nigerians (590).

Attacks against Facilities

Over two-thirds of all terrorist attacks struck infrastructure or facilities. Of those, transportation assets and public places were the most frequently targeted. Transportation facilities -- such as vehicles, buses and transportation infrastructure -- incurred damage in about 27 percent of the attacks, while public places -- including communal areas, markets, polling stations, religious institutions , schools and residences -- incurred damage in about 21 percent of the attacks.

  • Attacks on government facilities decreased by about 43 percent from 2010, from 796 attacks to 453 attacks in 2011.
  • There was a sharp increase in the number of attacks directed at energy infrastructure, including fuel tankers, fuel pipelines and electrical networks, rising from 299 attacks in 2010 to 438 attacks in 2011.
  • The number of attacks directed at public places declined in each of the past five years, from a high of 4,121 attacks in 2007 to 2,186 attacks in 2011.

Trend analysis for Afghanistan includes inconsistent source reporting between 15 November and 31 December 2011.