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Western Terror Attacks on the Decline as Extremist Groups Focus on Africa, Middle East

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The worldwide threat of terrorism remains high according to the 2023 Global Terror Report by the Institute of Economics and Peace (IEP). Experts warn any kind of complacency, especially by world powers, could lead to serious consequences. 

"Maintaining focus is really important, despite all the competing priorities that are out there," said Joshua Meservey, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

He points to the Biden administration's shifting focus away from the War on Terror, to pay attention to the growing concerns with China and Russia.

"It makes sense that there's been a pivot....but there is a danger there that we lose sight of these terrorist organizations that are still totally committed to attacking the United States, or if they can't hit the American homeland, would attack Americans or American interests in whatever region they're in," Meservey said.

This year's Index indicates that counter-terrorism efforts over the last two decades continue to pay off, showing a decline in attacks on the West. Meservey points out, however, that doesn't mean terror organizations have been less active, they've just moved on to countries with more instability. 

"There has been a real shift to Africa, specifically the Sahel region, where we've seen the greater growth in terrorist activity than anywhere else in the world," he told CBN News.

Meservey notes that region of Africa faces frequent food shortages, poverty, and corrupt leadership.

"There's an enabling environment that exists in these countries, where you have kleptocratic, even abusive governments, and that helps the terrorists. Frankly, it makes their ideology more attractive, it makes the message that they're sending to ordinary people more attractive," he explained.

The Islamic State remains the world's deadliest terror group for the eighth year in a row, with Afghanistan feeling the highest impact from terror attacks. 

"You have a terrorist organization that runs the country now. So it's really unsurprising...but it's also a reminder of just how badly the United States botched both the Afghanistan withdrawal and other elements of that war," Meservey said.

The IEP is calling on world powers to tackle terrorism by addressing systemic issues in places like Africa, where governments seem less likely to stamp out violent extremism and people appear more likely to be taken in by radical ideologies. 

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT