NEW YORK and LONDON, June 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- International counterterrorism efforts appear to be stifling the ability of terrorist groups to mount significant attacks on the scale of those of September 11, 2001, according to the 2010 Aon Terrorism Threat Map, issued today by Aon Crisis Management, a business practice of Aon Corporation (NYSE: AON).
According to the analysis, al-Qaida in particular is being forced to focus on building its networks in traditional conflict zones. Concerns remain, however, about such networks and followers in Europe and North America as well as the re-emergence of more traditional left, right and nationalist terrorist groups. And, despite an apparent slight downward trend in attack frequency in recent months, established insurgencies continue to provide the focal points for terrorism: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Somalia and Yemen are the modern battlefronts.
The map, produced by Aon in collaboration with security consultancy firm Janusian, reflects data recorded by Terrorism Tracker*, which monitors global indicators of terrorism threat, including attacks, plots, communiques and government countermeasures. These findings represent a contemporary snapshot of the violent potential of terrorist groups in over 200 countries. Each country is assigned a threat level, starting at Low, and rising through Guarded, Elevated, High and Severe.
These threat levels are determined by scoring each country based on the following threat indicators for 2010:
- Evidence of known and active groups or networks operating in a given country
- Aims and stated objectives of these groups or networks
- Track record of terrorist activity by these groups or networks, including target selection and activity levels
- Operational capabilities of these groups or networks to stage attacks
- Likely erosion of terrorist capabilities through the current counterterrorism regime in the given country
While the U.S. remains classified as Elevated on the map again this year, a number of terrorist incidents occurring within the U.S. during 2009, including the Fort Hood massacre, the foiled Christmas Day airliner attack over Detroit and last month's bomb scare in New York's Times Square, have helped push the U.S. higher up within the Elevated classification.
Elsewhere, nationalist and left-wing movements have seen sporadic increased levels of terrorist activity in the forms of threats and actual attacks. Northern Ireland, Greece, Russia, Argentina and Chile have all been afflicted by terrorism historically, and recently have experienced increased numbers of incidents.
General Richard Myers, retired chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and a member of Aon's board of directors, commented: "If you are looking at whether, on a global scale, we are safer from terrorism this year than last, the difference is marginal, but reflects the pressure we have exerted on our foes over the long term to contain their growth. Last year, the score for the U.S. was reduced. This year, we have learned a lot more about cells and individuals operating inside our borders. The fact is that we are making progress in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, which has forced al-Qaida to rely on less capable local operatives because it struggles to maintain a coherent organization when it is under constant military pressure.
"What is apparent, though, is that as we exert pressure on jihadist groups in their preferred territories, they are likely to seek new homes and affiliations in countries that have limited capacity to deal with them. We expect to continue to see significant presence from terrorist groups in northern and eastern Africa, including Algeria, Mali and Somalia as well as in Yemen."
Aon's 2010 Terrorism Threat Map also reveals that new fronts in the war on terror are not the only issues governments and corporations need to take into account when ensuring their citizens and employees remain safe.
Paul Bassett, chief executive officer of Aon Crisis Management, explained: "2009 and 2010 have been years of tactical innovation for terrorist groups. During the closing months of 2009, we saw two attempts to carry out underwear bombings, a recent innovation intended to subvert airport-style security measures. We have also noticed an increasing trend for suicide bombers who do not fit an expected profile. In the U.S., for example, a blonde-haired blue-eyed female Muslim convert allegedly threatened to carry out an assassination.
"Since 9/11, it is apparent that al-Qaida has been unable to find the momentum it needs to mount an operation of similar scale or impact. In part, this can be attributed to the commitment shown by governments to tackle international terrorism on many levels, from military to financial. But we remain concerned that terrorists will seek to achieve mass casualties, perhaps preferring swarm tactics of the kind used in Mumbai in November 2008.
"We encourage businesses to implement security risk controls proportionate to threats to their personnel and assets. First, organizations must identify and reduce their vulnerabilities based on an expert risk assessment. To reduce the impact of any attack, firms can also transfer some or all of their risk through an appropriate insurance policy."
Access to Aon's interactive 2010 Terrorism Threat Map and hard copies can be requested via http://www.aon.com/terrorismmap.
Notes to editors:
*A collaboration between Aon and Janusian, Terrorism Tracker is a set of tools to help businesses assess and manage terrorism risk. At its core is the Terrorism Tracker database, which allows subscribers to conduct their own research on terrorist activity around the world and display their results using Google Maps. The database informs Janusian's ratings for the annual Aon Terrorism Threat map and supports a monthly newsletter available to Aon's clients.
Terrorism threat is defined as an assessment of the intent and capability that terrorist groups will stage attacks, and the likelihood that they will succeed.
The assessments in the 2010 Aon Terrorism Threat Map draw upon empirical data and open source intelligence from the Terrorism Tracker online database.
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