On Jan. 16, 2013, an attack on a gas plant in Algeria – reportedly organized by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a militant leader with ties to al-Qaeda and extremists throughout North Africa and the Sahara – killed at least 37 hostages and dozens of militants.
Such attacks bring into focus the extent of religion-related terrorism in the world today.
A recent study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life found that religion-related terrorism increased globally between mid-2007 and mid-2010. In mid-2010, religion-related terrorist groups operated in 73 countries (37%), up from 60 countries (30%) in mid-2007.
The attack on the Algerian gas plant also makes clear that religion-related terrorism can cross international borders or be supported by international networks. A separate analysis by the Pew Forum found that between 2009 and 2011, religion-related terrorist groups reportedly engaged in cross-border attacks or drew on international connections for support in a total of 51 countries (26%).
For a related analysis, see last week's blog: Religion-related war affects in One-in-Seven countries (15%) worldwide, as France joins conflict in Mali.