We all know the dangers of terrorism and we’ve all heard the statistics that show there’s a higher probability of getting struck by lightning than dying in a terrorist attack. While that may be true for some nations, let’s take a look at a few countries where lightning isn’t exactly the biggest concern. The following is a list of countries with the most incidents of terrorism. Some of these countries are difficult to access and if you decide to visit, you may be maxing out your creditcard just to be put into danger. The ranking is ordered using data from a 2010 Maplecroft report. Maplecroft is an international risk management consultancy.
Russia has been a terrorist hot spot since violence began in 1999 over the breakaway region of Chechnya. There have been some pretty large-scale terrorist attacks in the country since then such as the ‘Moscow theater hostage crisis’ in 2002 and the ‘Beslan school hostage crisis’ in 2004. The conflict in the Caucasus has died down since its height, but corruption, race tensions and a dilapidated security apparatus exacerbate the situation. With Putin on track to once again become president of the Russian Federation, it’s unlikely that any novel political solutions will be applied to Russia’s security situation. Russia will probably remain on this list for the foreseeable future.
Yemen grabbed the number 9 spot on this list for the 2010 year end. While Yemen has a long history of Al Qaeda activities, such as the U.S.S. Cole bombing in 2000, in recent years it has become the focal point of Al Qaeda activities. The Al Qaeda Yemen branch is now considered by many security experts to be the most active and capable branch of the terror organization. They were behind such dastardly plots as the ‘cargo plane bomb plot’ in 2010 and the ‘Christmas day bomber’ in 2009. The United States has placed a considerable amount of effort into combating terrorism in Yemen and has been carrying out drone attacks in the country for the better part of a decade. The popular uprising against authoritarian President Saleh that started in January of 2011 has weakened the state and the country is at risk of splintering along tribal and north-south lines from its civil war almost two decades ago.
The Philippines makes the list because of its Islamic militant groups who are fighting to breakaway from the central government. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front has been waging a campaign of violence in the Philippines since the 1970’s in the hopes of gaining an independent and Muslim homeland on the island of Mindanao. Their most prolific attack was in 2007 when their militants beheaded 11 Filipino marines. Another militant group operating in the Philippines is Abu Sayyaf, a small but deadly group with links to Al Qaeda. Abu Sayyaf has been responsible for some high profile incidents, such as when its militants occupied a Malaysian dive resort in 2000, the kidnapping of 20 people from a luxury resort on the island of Palawan in 2001 and the bombing of Superferry 14 in 2004. In 2009 the militant group even killed two American soldiers on operation in the country.
Definitely the most popular tourist destination on this list, Thailand is more known for its beautiful beaches and raucous nightlife than for its terrorist violence. Similar to the Philippines, Thailand’s violence stems from a Muslim insurgency in its south. Unlike the Philippines, Thailand’s insurgency is relatively new, with the violence only beginning in earnest in 2004. This armed insurgency centered around the border area with Malaysia confounds most experts as the goals and membership of its militant groups are relatively unknown. The rationale of the groups is also unclear. Muslim representation in the Thai government has steadily increased over the past few decades and the economy of Southern Thailand has also improved. In 2011 the Thai government conceded that violence was increasing and not likely to subside anytime soon.
A regular member on this list, in recent years Colombia has nonetheless taken steps to decrease violence. Not quite the narcoterrorist nightmare of the 1990’s, certain areas of the country such as Bogota have seen marked improvement. However, violence in the country’s rural areas is still a problem. Far-right paramilitary groups such as AUC still operate (albeit at a limited capacity) and the power of FARC remains far reaching. Boasting over ten-thousand militants and operating in 500,000 square kilometers of jungle, FARC shows no signs of a total defeat, despite blows to its leadership. In 2010 alone FARC was responsible for the killing of over 450 Colombian soldiers.