Suicide bombings reached an all-time high last year, with 5,650 people being killed in 469 attacks, according to a new study from an Israeli think tank.
The 5,650 deaths marked a 30 percent increase over 2015, when 4,330 were killed, according to the study, which was released by the Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict Research Program at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.
The 469 suicide bombings, which occurred mostly in the Middle East, were carried out last year by 800 perpetrators, a slight increase over 2015 when 452 bombings were carried out by 735 terrorists.
According to the report, ISIS carried out around 70 percent, or 322, of the suicide bombings across the globe last year. In the Middle East, the brutal terror group accounted for 90 percent of the attacks.
Fatalities increased 71 percent in the Middle East last year compared to 2015, from 2,294 to 3,915. The number of suicide attacks increased 44 percent in the region, from 207 to 298. Iraq and Syria, where ISIS holds territory, experienced the largest number of attacks.
The study’s authors say that ISIS could be relying more on suicide bombings as a means of warfare in order to signal strength to the rest of the world even while they lose territory in Syria and Iraq.
“In view of the Islamic State’s territorial losses and the increasing international efforts to drive it out of the areas it controls, it appears that suicide terrorism will be a key tool for the Islamic State in consolidating its image as invincible, creating deterrence against its enemies, and taking revenge for the international activity against it,” the authors wrote.
“The Islamic State’s partners and other terrorist groups will also likely redouble their efforts to carry out mass casualty large scale terrorist attacks.”
And the terror group may have carried out even more attacks, according to the study’s authors, who included only those suicide bombings that had two independent sources of verification.
Perhaps hundreds of ISIS bombings “were neither reported in detail in the media nor supported by independent sources or evidence from the field, and were therefore not included,” the authors wrote.
Western Europe also “became a more active theater for suicide bombings” last year, according to the study.
“Signs of this trend emerged already in late 2015 in a series of bombings in Paris in November that marked the first fulfillment of the Islamic State’s threat to strike in the heart of Europe. Suicide bombings took place in Belgium and Germany in 2016, and a number of attempted suicide bombings were foiled.”