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The deadly, coordinated terror strikes in London five years ago dubbed the 7/7 transit attacks serve as a marker of shifting global trends, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START).
While the number of new terror groups continues to rise, the number of sophisticated, coordinated attacks, has dropped, according to the University of Maryland-based START. The report culminates from START’s unclassified Global Terrorism Database.[private]
The report notes the rising number of new terror organizations world wide; on average 41 new organizations per year since 2000. The number of new organizations increased each year since 2004.
“This emergence of new groups, with no past history of terrorist attacks, is a discernible global trend in this decade,” the START report said. “This trend is similar to peaks evident in the late-1980s an era of high levels of terrorist activity.”
Because of the sophistication involved, coordinated attacks, such as those in London five years ago, have always represented a small portion of all terrorism, but the rate has been declining from the previous decade.
Relatively rare in the 1970s and early 1980s (up to 10 percent of all attacks), this figure doubled a few years later, peaking at 30 percent in 1998. There has been a steady decline ever since.
Still, coordinated terror attacks in the 21st century include the 9/11 attacks, Bali nightclub bombings in 2002, Madrid 2004, 7/71 London attacks in 2005 and the armed assaults in Mumbai in 2008. On average, coordinated attacks are 44 percent more lethal than uncoordinated ones.
The new START analysis reports a modest drop in suicide attacks globally in 2008 (191 such attacks, the latest data available), after rising in recent years. Still, this number is “well above average.”
The 7/7 attacks were Great Britain’s first to involve suicide bombers, and the only successful such attacks there to date.
“Emergent organizations today do not reflect one ideology, but rather, there are new groups representing a wide array of ideological beliefs and particular goals, complicating counterterrorism and anti-terrorism efforts in countries around the world,” START researchers said.
The START report is the result of analysis of its Global Terrorism Database (GTD), a comprehensive unclassified database. It includes details on more than 87,000 terror incidents from 1970 to 2008. Figures for 2009 are being collected and coded.
In 2005, terrorists launched a coordinated attack against London’s transportation system with three bombs detonating simultaneously at three different Metro stations and a fourth bomb exploding an hour later on a city bus. In all, there were 52 victims in these bombings with an additional 700 injuries resulting. The four terrorists who executed the attacks died in the explosions.
For more information, click here for the START report. [/private]

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