Victims of Terrorist Attacks are Mostly Muslims- Report

July 20

In 2017, researchers with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START (which is hosted at the University of Maryland), told ABC News that Muslims are “absolutely” the most likely people to be victims of terrorist attacks worldwide. William Braniff, the executive director of START, explained that his team’s data showed that the vast majority of terrorist attacks occur in Muslim-majority countries, and that the majority of victims of terrorism are Muslim.

START’s Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is perhaps the most respected collection of data on terrorist attacks worldwide, and the Department of State uses it to compile its reports. In 2016, analyzing the GTD’s data, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies also concluded that Muslims are the most likely victims of terrorists attacks.

“Almost all of the human impact of extremist attacks is Muslims killing or injuring fellow Muslims,” the analyst, Anthony Cordesmon, wrote.

The GTD shows that, in recent years, seven of the 10 countries that have the most terrorists attacks have had strong Muslim majorities—and, among counties on the list without Muslim majorities (like India), many of the attacks still affected areas with significant Muslim populations.


Though many of the Muslims killed in terrorist attacks every year are killed by other Muslim people, researchers say that the number of incidents of terrorists targeting Muslims specifically because of their faith could be rising. In Christchurch, the shooter’s own words linked the motivation for his attack to his anti-Islam, white supremacist ideology.

In 2017, Braniff and his team of researchers had seen an increase in “terrorist attacks targeted against Muslims” worldwide. And though most terrorist attacks still occur in Muslim-majority countries, there has also been an increase in attacks targeting Muslims in Europe and the United States.

A watchdog group in Britain found that, in 2017, a record number of anti-Muslim attacks were reported in the United Kingdom. That year, in London, a man rammed a van into Muslims outside a mosque who were leaving Ramadan prayer. (One man died in the attack, and nine were injured.)

In Germany, a media group found instances of more than 3,500 attacks on (largely Syrian) refugees and refugee hostels in the country in 2016. Researchers note that, because attacks on Muslims do not always register in the news if they do not result in fatalities—and because such attacks are often called hate crimes instead of terrorist attacks—news audiences may not be aware of the prevalence of anti-Muslim violence.

Earlier this year, a study also found that journalists are much less likely to dedicate coverage to terrorist attacks not committed by Muslim perpetrators.

In February, researchers at Georgia State University and the University of Alabama found that attacks committed by Muslims get 357 percent more media coverage than attacks committed by other groups.