The Devolution of Terrorism

A look into the devolution of terrorism: the ideologies behind terrorist groups, their growth, ideologies and geographical expansion.

By: Claudia Aguirre, Interactive Media MFA University of Miami Twitter

Data Sources: The Global Terrorism Database,

Terrorist Attacks Around the World

When looking at the portrait of terrorism in the past thirty years, much has changed. Strategy, location, motivation and scale have all shifted with the times, but there is always one constant factor setting the stage for attacks: unrest.




By Terrorist Group
Uknown Terrorist Groups Filtered Out

Deadliest Terrorist Organizations

High in the rankings despite only reaching its peak in 2014 at the declaration of its caliphate, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has reached a level of unprecedented deadliness. Similar to it in deadliness is ISIL's affiliate, the slightly older Boko Haram (2002). Another stand-out group are the Liberation Tigets of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka, which were defeated in 2009 after over 30 years of activity.

Islamic Fundamentalist
Radical Political Leftists
Jihadi Salafism
Shia Jihadism


Areas of Turmoil

Modern terrorists are no longer restricted to national borders as they were in Latin America in the 80s and 90s. Thanks to the reach technology and social media has given Islamic Extremist groups such as ISIL, recruiters are able to spread their ideologies and gain new members all around the world.In the past ten years alone, the only areas that have been free of terrorist activity are Central America and the Caribbean.

The U.S.' Military Foreign Spending by Decade

The United States have shown their support to hundreds of countries undergoing insurgencies and terrorist campaigns through military aid. This sometimes meant siding with governments such as El Salvador's which tortured and killed civilians just as the insurgents attacking them did. The breakdown shows a greater involvement from the part of the American government in foreign security only after the 1990s. The data represented also includes financial support for countries during civil wars and conflicts against other nations. * Data only includes obligation spending, ** Data includes disbursements to nations