NIGERIA

By the Numbers: Boko Haram Is Worse Than ISIS

Boko Haram killed 6,644 people in 2014

Nov 20, 2015 at 8:36 AM ET

Just days after ISIS killed 43 people in Beirut and 129 people in Paris, two bombings believed to be linked to Boko Haram claimed at least 49 lives and injured approximately 130 people in two separate Nigerian cities on Tuesday. While they didn’t grab global headlines, they’re part of an even more deadly problem than that posed by ISIS’ Middle-Eastern core. Even as we published this story, it remained unclear whether or not the attack on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, was undertaken by Boko Haram or Ansar Al-Din

The Institute for Economics and Peaces’ new Global Terrorism Index shows that the Nigerian terrorist group eclipsed ISIS for the morbid title of most deadly terrorist group in 2014, killing 6,644 people in various attacks throughout Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon. Together, the two groups (which declared an alliance in March) accounted for more than half of all deaths caused by terrorism last year.

Here are the grisly numbers behind Boko Haram’s rise in 2014.


Though ISIS claimed more total lives than Boko Haram did in 2014, ISIS killed less people through terrorist attacks against civilians, since most of their kills were battle-related deaths. Boko Haram killed 45 more people in terrorist attacks in Nigeria alone than ISIS did across five countries.


In May, members of Boko Haram killed 315 people at a marketplace in the town of Gomoru Ngala, using both firearms and explosives. It was the third largest terrorist attack reported globally in 2014, behind two major ISIS attacks in Iraq.


Nigeria ranked third of all the world’s countries in terms of impact by terrorism, following only Iraq and Afghanistan. The country saw a 300% increase in people killed by terrorism from the previous year, and accounted for 23% of all deaths caused by terrorism worldwide. The Fulani militants, another rising terrorist group in the region that surpassed al-Shabaab to become the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world, accounted for 1,229 total deaths in the country. Where Boko Haram killed an average of 15 people per attack, the Fulani militants only killed eight per attack. Following the unprecedented growth of these two groups, the total number of internally displaced persons in Nigeria recently reached 2.2 million, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.


Boko Haram conducted more bombings in 2014 than in any other previous year, killing a total of 1,490 people, mostly in public places. In 2013, the group conducted only 35 bombings. However, machine guns remain Boko Haram’s preferred weapon of choice, accounting for 63 percent of the group’s annual death toll. The group did not begin bombing attacks until 2010.


Largely due to Boko Haram, terrorism-related deaths in Nigeria rose by more than 300 percent increase in 2014. This increase was the largest year-on-year increase in terrorist deaths for any country in history. Amnesty International estimates that Boko Haram has now killed more than 17,000 people in total.