WASHINGTON, U.S. - The annual Global Terrorism Index released this week was analyzed closely by experts from around the world and revealed a major positive development but an equally huge and possibly more dangerous finding.
According to the annual index released by the London-based Institute of Economics & Peace, the world witnessed a dramatic drop in the number of terror-related deaths - with the toll declining for the third consecutive year.
However, it warned that North America and Western Europe were witnessing a rise in far-right political terrorism.
Steve Killelea, Executive Chairman of the Institute of Economics & Peace said in the annual report that terrorism-related deaths had dropped by 44 percent in 2017, to 18,800 - after peaking at about 34,000 deaths in 2014.
The report noted that five countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Somalia and Syria had witnessed more than 1,000 deaths from terrorism.
Of these, Afghanistan was said to have recorded the highest number of terror-related deaths among all countries in the world.
The report found that a total of 19 countries had recorded over 100 deaths in 2017, while 67 countries across the world witnessed at least one death from terrorism through the year.
It noted that last year, 96 countries saw an improvement, while 46 countries registered lower scores - which resulted in the best year-to-year improvement since 2004.
According to the findings of the report, the total year-to-year deaths fell by 75 percent in Europe, which led to the biggest rate of improvement.
On the other hand, the report found that Egypt and Somalia had registered the biggest jumps in deaths from terrorism.
Terror deaths grew 123 percent in Egypt and 93 percent in Somalia.
The report's authors noted that Al-Shabaab in Somalia killed a total of 587 people last year, while ISIS militants in Egypt's Sinai Province killed 311 through the year.
The two deadliest attacks of the year were reported in these two countries.
'The back of ISIS is broken'
The Global Terrorism Index for 2017 revealed that the significant drop in deaths related to terrorism came due to the military defeats of the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Iraq and Syria.
Killelea pointed out that the Nigerian government had "broken the back" of Boko Haram, which also contributed to the drop in terror toll last year.
According to the annual index, in 2017, deaths at the hands of ISIS dropped by 52 percent overall.
The report pointed out that the birthplace of ISIS - Iraq, had recorded a 56 percent decline in terror-related deaths.
In 2017, 3,554 people died in Iraq due to terrorism - which marked the largest year-to-year reduction of a single country.
Last year, Iraq recorded the lowest number of deaths from terrorism since 2012.
Killelea said that by the time 2018 comes to an end, ISIS will no longer be ranked as the deadliest terrorist organization.
He said, "I think if there's one thing which I'd have people to take away from the study, it would be simply that the back of ISIL is broken. And that doesn't mean that it's the end of terrorism. Because Al Qaeda is still highly active."
However, Killelea warned that Islamic terrorism is "incredibly fluid."
The report's authors explained that even though ISIS is collapsing in Iraq and Syria, the terrorist organization is seen to be actively moving and regrouping in countries in Southeast Asia and the Maghreb and Sahel regions of Africa - including in Libya, Niger, and Mali.
Killelea explained that based on differences in ideology or differences in strategy and tactics, the group's splinter, merge, and form new groups.
He said, "That's very, very difficult for intelligence agencies to really track and stay on top of it."
The age of far-right terrorism
While revealing the drop from terrorism-related deaths, the repot also warned of a different kind of and possibly more dangerous threat that has emerged.
It said that the economically-developed parts of the world like North America and Western Europe have witnessed a rise in far-right terrorism.
In 2017, the report found that more than 99 percent of all deaths from terrorism took place in countries mired in violent conflict or high levels of political terror.
However, developed economies were faced with terrorism stemming from social alienation, lack of economic opportunity, and involvement in an external conflict.
The 2017 Global Terrorism Index found that in the four years between 2013 and 2017, far-right groups and individuals were responsible for 66 deaths in Western Europe and North America.
A figure that revealed how swiftly the problem has increased was that compared to last year, there were no deaths linked to far-right groups and individuals in 2013.
In 2017, the U.S. witnessed 30 such attacks that resulted in 16 deaths.
Killelea pointed out, "Part of it is a reaction to the immigration flows, which have been appearing in Europe, with the result of the wars in the Middle East. And also it's a reaction against the terrorist attacks, which have occurred back in the U.S. and in Europe by violent jihadist or violent extremists, violent Muslim extremists."
According to the report, lone actors with white nationalist, far-right, or anti-Muslim beliefs were responsible for the majority of attacks in both the regions.