Most Lethal Year for Terrorism in Europe in Nearly a Decade


Aon Risk Solutions, the global risk management business of Aon plc, today launches its annual Terrorism and Political Violence Map, highlighting 2015 as the most lethal year for terrorist violence in Europe in nearly a decade as terrorists increasingly target private citizens and public gatherings. This marks the first net increase in global terrorism risk ratings since 2013, with the risk ratings of 18 countries experiencing an increase and 13 countries seeing a decrease.

For the first time since Aon and The Risk Advisory Group jointly began collecting empirical data to create the map in 2007, shootings have overtaken bombings in the western world, while the targeting of civilians in public spaces has become more commonplace. Since January 2015, nearly one-third (31 percent) of all attacks in the western world targeted private citizens and public gatherings. 

The global threat posed by Islamic State dominates many of the map findings this year, as the group entered a more aggressive phase of mounting mass casualty attacks in 2015 and early 2016, with the United States, France, Turkey and Belgium all affected. The terrorist organisation’s activities have contributed to sustaining or increasing risk levels in more than a dozen countries worldwide. Far-right activism as well as civil unrest risks stemming from the European migrant crisis and the increasing influence of extremist parties have also driven rating increases.

Closer to home, South Africa’s risk level has increased from low to medium, and it retains the strikes and civil unrest peril. “The increase in the risk level is in large part because of an increase in strike action and anti-government protests, as well as a breakdown in relations between the governing ANC party and some major trade unions. We have not recorded any terrorist attacks over the past 12 months and there have not been official announcements of disruptions to major plots,” says Darlington Munhuwani, Regional Controller for Aon Sub-Sahara Africa.

“Our 2016 map demonstrates increasing regional instability and a growing spectrum of potential risks on a global scale,” Darlington adds. “The terrorism threat continues to evolve and is no longer limited to physical damage to infrastructure. It is now broader and includes cyber threats, kidnap and ransom, business interruption as well as event cancellations.  This presents an increasing challenge for business leaders and risk managers of companies with a global footprint. All these risks must be properly evaluated before a comprehensive terrorism program is put in place.”

 The most business-threatening political violence risks continue to emerge from war and sudden changes in government control, such as those which occur through coups d’état,” says Henry Wilkinson, head of Intelligence and Analysis at The Risk Advisory Group plc, which has collaborated with Aon to produce the Terrorism and Political Violence map since 2007. “These are less manageable risks and our findings flag several countries where there is heightened probability of both. Businesses need to be flexible and robust in how they anticipate and manage risks in the fluid world the map depicts. This requires actionable assessments that take both a strategic and a more detailed operational view of the markets in which they seek to thrive.”