The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been, like many parts of the world, a hotbed for terrorist activities. Terrorist attacks can affect both demand for and provision of health care services and often places a unique burden on first responders, hospitals, and health systems. This study aims to provide an epidemiological description of all terrorism-related attacks in the Middle East sustained from 1970-2019.
Data collection was performed using a retrospective database search through the Global Terrorism Database (GTD). The GTD was searched using the internal database search functions for all events which occurred in Iraq, Yemen, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel, Lebanon, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, North Yemen, Qatar, and South Yemen from January 1, 1970 - December 31, 2019. Primary weapon type, primary target type, country where the incident occurred, and number of deaths and injuries were collated and the results analyzed.
A total of 41,837 attacks occurred in the Middle East from 1970-2019 accounting for 24.9% of all terrorist attacks around the world. A total of 100,446 deaths were recorded with 187,447 non-fatal injuries. Fifty-six percent of all attacks in the region occurred in Iraq (23,426), 9.4% in Yemen (3,929), and 8.2% in Turkey (3,428). “Private Citizens and Properties” were targeted in 37.6% (15,735) of attacks, 15.4% (6,423) targeted “Police,” 9.6% targeted “Businesses” (4,012), and 9.6% targeted “Governments” (4,001). Explosives were used in 68.4% of attacks (28,607), followed by firearms in 20.4% of attacks (8,525).
Despite a decline in terrorist attacks from a peak in 2014, terrorist events remain an important cause of death and injuries around the world, particularly in the Middle East where 24.9% of historic attacks took place. While MENA countries are often clustered together by economic and academic organizations based on geographical, political, and cultural similarities, there are significant differences in terrorist events between countries within the region. This is likely a reflection of the complexities of the intricate interplay between politics, culture, security, and intelligence services unique to each country.