Fact-check: Nigeria Not Second Most Terrorised Country

Many news platforms in Nigeria recently reported that it is the second most terrorised country, but the Global Terrorism Index says it is sixth. The data relied on is old and doesn’t give the full picture.

Reports from Nigerian media outlets claim the country is the second most terrorised in the world. Misquoting Jihad Analytics, they say Nigeria is next to Iraq, headquarters of the Islamic State (ISIS), based on the number of terror attacks.

“A report by a global terrorism research/analysis group, Jihad Analytics (JA) has placed Nigeria as the second most terrorised/attacked country in the world between Iraq and Syria,” published Ripples Nigeria, an online news platform on Saturday, Sept. 3. 

Ripples added that “the research organisation which specialises in collating data on terrorists’ activities worldwide, in the report released on Friday, disclosed that in its half year findings made between January to June 2022, Nigeria recorded 305 attacks while Iraq recorded 337 terrorists’ attacks to come out first while Syria had 142 terrorist’s attacks, placing it in third position.” 

The platform also reported that JA attributed “most of the attacks to the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist group”.

Similarly misleading reports have been published by Vanguard Newspaper, Daily Post, Blueprint, and several other blogs.

However, while the figures in the news report were based on infographics published in July by Jihad Analytics, an online platform run by Damien Ferré which monitors global terrorism trends, the data showed only the number of attacks claimed by Islamic State affiliates worldwide. It does not include attacks from terrorists affiliated with groups such as Al-Qaeda or other independent groups like Boko Haram.

Responding to HumAngle’s request for comment, Jihad Analytics denied making the locally reported claims.

“Indeed, those kinds of reports are wrong, I have never said and written that Nigeria is now ranked 2nd most terrorised country. I only focused on IS claimed attacks in my graph, not all the jihad group’s attacks,” Ferré said.

The infographic shows only the attacks claimed by Islamic State, not all terror organisations. ‘This year, so far, the Islamic State has claimed more than half of its attacks in #Africa. Iraq still #IS most active province. Peak during Ramadân. Deadliest operations in Afghanistan. Expansion to new areas + upsurge in the attacks at #Christians in Nigeria, Mozambique and DRC,’ Ferré explained in his tweet of July 1, 2022.

Global terror ranking organisations use data from diverse religiously or politically motivated terror organisations, including the Jama’atu Nusratul Islam Wal Muslimin (JNIM) in Mali and Al-Shabaab in Somalia, before publishing annual and comprehensive reports on how various countries are faring. 

One such organisation is the Institute for Economics and Peace, a body that produces an annual report that measures the impact of terrorism around the world and also publishes the Global Terrorism Index. According to its 2022 report, Nigeria is the sixth most terrorised country in the world.

The calculation of GTI score is based on the occurrences of attacks, number of casualties, hostages and injuries recorded from various sources, including Terrorism Trackers and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). 

Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Burkina Faso, and Syria all currently place above Nigeria in the impact of terrorism index. Nigeria, on the other hand, has dropped from fourth to sixth place since 2017.

“Total deaths from terrorism in Nigeria fell to 448 in 2021, the lowest level since 2011. Terror-related casualties dropped by almost half compared to previous year. However, the number of terrorist attacks increased by 48% between 2020 and 2021,” the report said. 

According to the 2022 report, ISWAP, which primarily operates in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, is Africa’s most lethal terror group. Its parent organisation, the Islamic State, has also surpassed Al-Qaeda in terms of the number of attacks carried out worldwide. 

Nigeria is facing not only threats from ISWAP but Jihadists linked to Al-Qaeda, such as Ansaru, and other non-state actors operating largely in the Northwest and the North-central part of the country. 

Editor’s note: This report was updated on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2022, to include the comment from Jihad Analytics.

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Aliyu Dahiru

Aliyu is an Assistant Editor at HumAngle and Head of the Radicalism and Extremism Desk. He has years of experience researching misinformation and influence operations. He is passionate about analysing jihadism in Africa and has published several articles on the topic. His work has been featured in various local and international publications.

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