The past three years have seen a dramatic increase in the intensity and spread of terrorist incidents in OECD member countries, including Australia, according to new research conducted exclusively for Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation and unveiled at the ARPC-OECD Global Terrorism Risk Insurance Conference this month. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP)*, which conducted the research, there were more terrorist incidents on Australian soil in 2014-15 than in the 15 preceding years combined.
While Australia’s level of terrorist activity is low by global standards, it is one of the 10 highest among OECD member countries. As with other OECD member countries, the increasing threat of terrorism has been driven by groups or individuals claiming some sort of connection with the Islamic State (ISIL).
Terrorism in OECD** member countries increased from 77 deaths in 2014 when ISIL emerged, to 577 in 2015 (a 650% increase) and the most in a single year since 2001. This dramatic increase is continuing with 482 deaths from terrorism in the first seven months of 2016. The impact of terrorism has also begun to spread out across more OECD member countries, and has become a constant threat, with ten of the largest 20 terrorist attacks of the last 15 years occurring in 2015.
“Although there hasn’t been a repeat of the scale of the September 11 attacks in the United States, the sheer volume of attacks in the past three years suggest terrorism is a now a much greater threat to political stability in OECD member countries,” says Murray Ackman, IEP Research Fellow. “OECD member countries, which includes Europe and many developed countries, face a three-pronged threat: lone actors with a variety of motivations and backgrounds; home grown groups which are increasingly being inspired by Islamic State (ISIL) and attacks planned, directed and co-ordinated by ISIL itself.”
Dr Christopher Wallace, Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation (ARPC) CEO, said ARPC commissioned the IEP research to understand more about the evolving global and local terrorism threat and to ensure scheme coverage continues to remain relevant and serve reinsureds and the wider Australian economy.
“ARPC’s purpose is to protect Australian businesses and the wider economy in the case of a Declared Terrorist Incident (DTI), so understanding the frequency, severity and types of attacks, together with the motivations of terrorists is very important.
“Large or ‘black swan’ events which cause widespread casualties and property destruction such as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings and the 2011 Oslo attacks (which included car bombs) are hard to predict and rare. However, they are still quite possible and the effects can be catastrophic. Lately there has been a heavy focus on soft target attacks by lone actors,” says Dr Wallace.
In other key findings:
- More than half the deaths from terrorism in the OECD since 2014 have had some connection with ISIL;
- In 2015, of the 34 countries in the OECD, 21 experienced a terrorist attack; 11 recorded at least one death from terrorism; nine recorded the highest level of terrorism since at least 2000 and five had the most deaths since at least 2000;
- The majority of deaths from terrorism in the OECD have been from bombings and explosions;
- There has also been an increase in the use of unconventional tactics such as using vehicles as weapons. For example, there have been at least six attacks from using vehicles as weapons since 2014;
- Traditional terrorist targets (plane hijackings, mid-air bombings) have become less common as increased security around key targets and surveillance from intelligence services has made planning more sophisticated types of attacks more difficult. By contrast, ‘low risk, high impact’ attacks that require less planning and fewer resources (for example, the Bastille Day attack in Nice, in which a truck drove through a large crowd of pedestrians) are becoming more common.In Australia:
The deadliest attack on Australian soil in the past 15 years occurred in December 2014, when Mon Haron Monis took 18 hostages at the Lindt Café in Martin Place, Sydney. The siege lasted for 16 hours. Monis and two hostages were killed. Although no terrorist group claimed responsibility, official ISIL publications claimed Monis had been inspired by the group. This incident was announced as a Declared Terrorist Incident (DTI) by the then Treasurer and ARPC was called upon to respond by covering eligible claims by the Lindt Café’s insurer (and other insurers affected by the event) for property damage and business interruption.
The full research paper can be accessed here.
*The Institute for Economics and Peace is an international and independent think tank dedicated to shifting the world’s focus to peace as a positive, achievable and tangible measure of human well-being and progress. www.economicsandpeace.org
**The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a forum where the governments of 34 democracies with market economies work with each other to promote economic growth, prosperity and sustainable development. Membership includes mostly developed countries, including 25 European countries plus North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and emerging countries like Chile and Turkey.
For media inquiries about the research, please contact Murray Ackman IEP Research Fellow on 0425 285 845. For inquiries and comment on the ARPC Scheme and the relevance of the research to ARPC please contact ARPC CEO Dr Chris Wallace on 0427 691 263.