Maat reveals that 209 terrorist attacks occurred in the Arab region during the first quarter of 2022
Okeil: 55% of terrorist operations took place in three countries experiencing armed conflicts
Sherif Abdul-Hamid: The Houthi terrorism in the first quarter of 2022 prompted the Security Council to classify them as a terrorist group for the first time
Ali Muhammed: Somalia topped the global terrorism index in the Arab region during the first quarter of 2022
Maat for Peace, Development and Human Rights has recently issued its quarterly report entitled "Terrorism Index in the Arab Region during the First Quarter of 2022". The report, which is divided into four parts, monitored and analyzed the phenomenon of terrorism in the Arab region as well as its associated activities and interactions with terrorist groups during the period from January to March 2022. The report, in its track of terrorist operations, adopted various methods and investigative approaches with the aim of achieving the greatest possible benefit and producing the most accurate results.
The report showed an increase in terrorist operations in the Arab region in the first quarter of 2022 by about 209 terrorist operations, compared to 169 terrorist operations in the same period last year, with 463 people killed and 560 others injured. The report documented the death of 141 civilians, including women and children, which represents 30.4% of the total number of terrorists killed during the reporting period. 236 other civilians were injured, that is 42% of the total casualties. The countries of the armed conflict in the Arab region, namely Somalia, Syria and Yemen, remained the most vulnerable to terrorist operations, as terrorist groups claimed 115 terrorist attacks, which represents 55% of the total terrorist operations in the Arab region.
The report indicated that Somalia topped the terrorism index in the Arab region during the first three months of 2022, with 68 terrorist attacks carried out in its territories. Iraq came second followed by Syria. Terrorist groups such as Al-Shabab in Somalia and ISIS in Syria and Iraq remained able to move freely and maneuver, which allowed them to plan, execute, and plant explosive devices, set ambushes, and recruit other individuals.
The report stated that only eleven Arab countries have maintained a terrorism-free record thanks to the elaborate strategies and approaches to combating terrorism and the intelligence and security cooperation between them, the Arab countries, and the UN member states. Pre-emptive strikes have contributed to the fall down of dangerous terrorist leaders.
There were several efforts to combat terrorism in the first quarter of 2022. The Egyptian military's most prominent Special Forces units, the Thunderbolt Forces (Quwwat al-Sa'iqa) trained an elite unit in the Mauritanian army to combat terrorism in the Mauritanian state of Tekent. In one way or another, these countries have adopted the four pillars of the United Nations counter-terrorism strategy at the heart of policies and activities aimed at combating terrorism within their territory. These four pillars are: addressing the conditions that could lead to the exacerbation of terrorism; taking measures to curb terrorism; taking measures to build the capacity of States to prevent and combat terrorism and to strengthen the role of the United Nations in this regard; and taking measures to respect human rights for all and the rule of law as the core of the fight against terrorism.
In this context, Ayman Okeil, an international human rights expert and president of Maat, said that the main obstacle facing the majority of Arab countries in which terrorism prevails is the control of lands by armed terrorist groups, such as the Al-Shabab movement in Somalia and the Houthis in Yemen, in addition to the ongoing dire political situation in some countries, which presented a gateway for terrorist groups that took advantage of this political rivalry to plan and carry out a wide range of operations and attacks. This is confirmed by statistics, as the Arab countries suffering from armed terrorism, such as Somalia, Syria, and Yemen remain the most vulnerable to terrorist operations, which claimed responsibility for 115 terrorist attacks in the three countries, that is 55% of the total terrorist operations in the Arab region.
Okeil stressed the need to carry out scientific and academic studies that identify the causes of extremism and terrorism, apply its outcomes on the ground, re-revise educational curricula, and work on developing tools to monitor hate speech in Arab countries.
For his part, Sherif Abdul-Hamid, director of the Research and Studies Unit at Maat, said that the Maghreb and North Africa region remained the least vulnerable to terrorist operations in the Arab region in the first quarter of 2022, with only 13 terrorist incidents, that is 6.2% of the total terrorist operations in the Arab region. The Arab Gulf region was the second least affected by terrorist operations with 43 terrorist incidents, which is 20.6% of the total terrorist operations in the Arab region. The Houthis claimed responsibility for 39 terrorist operations in the Gulf region. Transnational terrorism targeted economic installations and civilian objects in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while Yemeni army forces targeted infrastructure and civilians in Yemen. Abdul-Hamid added that the Houthis continued to practice cross-border terrorism in the first three months of 2022, which prompted the Security Council to adopt Resolution No. 2624 of 2022, designating the Houthis for the first time as a terrorist group.
Ali Muhammed, a researcher at Maat, said that Somalia topped the terrorism index in the Arab region in the first quarter of 2022, as the political crisis and the faltering procedure for parliamentary elections subjected Somalia to several attacks by Al-Shabab. The movement is still ruling by force of arms part of the territory in Somalia and is able to govern the population by de facto force and impose taxes and levies.
Terrorist groups in Somalia have carried out 68 terrorist operations; 64 out of them were only committed by Al-Shabab organization, which is 94% of the total terrorist operations. This shows an increase in the rate of terrorist operations compared to 43 operations in the first quarter of 2021. As a result of the terrorist operations committed in the first quarter of 2022, about 230 people were killed and 301 others were injured.