Global Terrorism This Week (GTTW): September 26 – October 2, 2022

Terrorist trends around the world continue to show a significant focus on Islamist extremism as jihadis carry out the vast majority of attacks.

Weekly thought – Terrorism…or not?

Contrary to what many may think, it is not always easy to determine when an act of terrorism has occurred. The setting off of a bomb in a market, the gunning down of people in a food court and other ‘terrifying’ acts of violence are not always evidence that we are witness to terrorism. Oh were it that easy!

This week’s school shootings in Russia (see below) are a good example. A man in his thirties returned to the school he had once attended and opened fire, killing at least 13 people, including many pupils. The motive remains to be determined: this has not prevented some, even senior Russian officials, from immediately labeling this a terrorist act.

But what do we know about the shooter? Not much. Aside from the fact that he was once a student at the school all we know is that he had spent time in a psychiatric hospital for reasons unknown. That and reports that he was wearing a T-shirt with a ‘Nazi symbol’ (swastika?) on it. Ergo, he was a right wing terrorist!

Not so fast.

There has been no new information on this case since it occurred and given the nature of Russian media we are very unlikely to get more any time soon. The psychiatric aspect is also worth looking into.

This is what often happens when an attack makes no sense (at least not to me). Why would a neo-Nazi attack his old school? What message is being sent? Is this truly an instance of terrorism?

We are also challenged when it comes to right wing extremism (RWE) as many incidents seem to come from individuals with no links to groups. When Al Qaeda or Islamic State carry out an attack and claim it we can much more easily call it terrorism. Not so for other cases.

What I am appealing for is a little more judiciousness when it comes to hauling out the ‘T’ word. We gain nothing by jumping to conclusions and would all benefit from more time to gather information and carry out better analysis. After all, what’s the hurry (media competition for being the first with breaking news notwithstanding)?

This week by the numbers

  • Countries which suffered attacks: 11 – Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), India, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Somalia, Turkey
  • Approximate number of casualties: 121 dead, 155 wounded, 46 terrorists killed
  • Attacks foiled: 5
  • Ideology of attackers: Islamist (93%), possibly RWE (7%)



  • Belgian police killed a man in a shootout on September 28 during raids on a suspected extreme-right group thought to be planning a “terrorist attack”. The man killed, which it identified as Yannick V., was regarded as one of the leaders of the group: his social media profiles presented him as an arms collector, gold trader and history buff and in his recent posts he argued that the West was in decline and echoed the debunked conspiracy that Covid vaccines were a way to control the population. While authorities said the group wanted “to mount a form of armed resistance against the government”, they added that their alleged plans had no definite target nor date for action.

Burkina Faso

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)




  • Indonesia’s elite counterterrorism police killed an East Indonesian Mujahideen (MIT) terrorist on September 29 who was the last remaining member of an organisation that pledged allegiance to ISIS. Al Ikhwarisman, also known as Jaid, was a key member of the East Indonesia Mujahideen network, which has claimed responsibility for the killings of police officers and minority Christians, some by beheading,. Jaid had conducted at least 10 of the group’s executions, including the killing of four Christian farmers in May 2021.









  • A gunman opened fire at a school in central Russia on September 26, killing at least 13 people and injuring 21 before killing himself. A video posted online showed the gunman lying dead on the floor wearing a T-shirt with a Nazi symbol and a balaclava.




By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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