ISIS is easily the most well-known terrorist organization in the world right now. They control a huge (but shrinking) swath of land in Iraq and Syria, they flood social media with propaganda and their destruction is always sensationalist--from the recent attacks in Paris to the beheading of journalists in orange jumpsuits to the clobbering of statues and architecture in ancient cities.

They’ve grabbed the world’s attention. But they’re not the deadliest terrorist group in the world, according to the Institute of Economics and Peace.

The group responsible for the most deaths in 2014--6,664 identified--is Boko Haram, which conducts most of its terror in Northern Nigeria.

The name Boko Haram translates to “Western education is forbidden,” and this has been the guiding agenda of the group as it raids schools, abducts school girls and slaughters proponents of education.

They have destroyed around 1,100 schools in 2015 alone, most of them in the North of Nigeria, a region that has historically lagged behind the rest of the country in education.

There is a reason why terrorist organizations target schools: nothing threatens their constrained, hateful worldview more than children learning to open their minds.

Girls education is particularly galling to them.

In 2014, the world became (briefly) outraged that 273 Nigerian schoolgirls were abducted by the group. The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls raised some awareness.

Image: Flickr- Michael Fleshman

More than 200 of the girls are still missing. What’s worse, hundreds of other girls have been abducted (and some rescued).

Boko Haram’s terror since then has been unstinting, with major suicide explosions happening about once a month. The group regularly uses children and abused women as suicide bombers.

Just the other week, more than 45 people were killed in 2 separate explosions. One of the bombers was 11.

Why hasn’t the world become similarly transfixed by Boko Haram? Is it because ISIS is an easy name to remember, the sinister sound of the 2 syllables evoking the group’s actions?

Or is it because, as my colleague Brandon pointed out earlier this week, ISIS has struck closer to the homes of the Western world, and has lured thousands of Westerners into its ranks?

Both of these reasons, along with ISIS’s sensationalist nature, contribute to the lopsided attention.

While ISIS needs to be monitored and defeated, the world can’t forget about the other terrorist groups out there.

ISIS and Boko Haram account for 50% of terrorist-related deaths worldwide. That means tens of thousands of other people are being killed by other terror groups.

Terrorism everywhere needs to be eliminated by addressing root causes: societal chaos, gender inequality, corruption, extreme poverty, lack of education.

The reign of terrorism anywhere deepens and extends extreme poverty. When terrorists blow apart civil society, ordinary people lose access to resources that allow them to live stable lives that are key to ending the cycle of extreme poverty.

As governments around the world come together to defeat ISIS and (hopefully) Boko Haram, they must work to create societies where terrorism can never take root.

You can go to TAKE ACTION NOW to call on world leaders to support Goal 16: Peace and Justice of The Global Goals.


Demand Equity

This is actually the world’s deadliest terrorist group

By Joe McCarthy