Some jerks behind a desk in London calling themselves Maplecroft have decided to make a little list ranking countries with the highest risk of terrorist attacks. Sadly, they have decided to put South Sudan 5th on the list, below Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Terrorism Risk Index has been developed by Maplecroft, and comprises of three separate sub-indices: incidence – which calculates the frequency of attacks over a 12-month period (June 2009 – June 2010, the latest available data); intensity –a calculation of how lethal terrorist attacks are. The report indicates that in some countries like Greece for example, there have been a lot of small scale attacks that typically do not kill anyone. In other countries, like Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan for example, terrorist attacks are designed to kill as many people as possible. The intensity index also counts the number of mass-casualty attacks per country. The third includes historical aspects– the historical component looks at a country’s past experience of terrorism, whether it has a long-standing militant group that has operated in the country, for instance, Colombia’s FARC which has been active since the 1960s. Based on these parameters the Index, released annually covers 196 countries. (Foreignpolicyblog)
My initial reaction to South Sudan’s ranking was straight up anger. It felt like the warmongers were charging at the gates again, trying to paint South Sudan red with violence. Also, I had never really thought of the violence in South Sudan as being terrorism, and so the thought of terrorists running around South Sudan just did not compute in my mind. Then again, defining terrorism has always been a problem in this modern age.
For the purposes of the index, Maplecroft defines terrorism as “incidents in which sub-national or clandestine groups or individuals deliberately attack civilians or non-combatants (including military personnel and assets outside war zones and war-like settings).” (Foreignpolicyblog)
So why did South Sudan manage to land itself in 5th position above Palestine and Yemen?
Following the country’s formal secession from Sudan in July 2011, South Sudan (5) makes its first appearance in the Terrorism Risk Index. The country is rated as ‘extreme risk’ primarily due to the intensity of terrorist attacks, with an average of 6.59 fatalities per terrorist incident, almost three times that of Somalia at 2.23. (Maplecroft)
Wow. That is some pretty hardcore numbers. Three times the intensity of terrorists in Somalia. South Sudanese terrorists must be far better at terrorising than those useless suicide bombers. So how did they come to this conclusion?
A number of terrorist groups operate in South Sudan including the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has been responsible for mass-casualty attacks. However, splinter groups that have broken away from the mainstream Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) use terrorist methods and pose the greatest threat. One such group, led by George Athor, was responsible for 111 deaths in an attack in Jonglei province in February 2011. This one incident accounts for over 50% of the 211 fatalities sustained by South Sudan from attacks between April 2010 and March 2011.
One incident…one…. that is all it took to place this brand new country to 5th on the list. By that account, in 2001 the US would have been placed number one in intensity for its 2,606 casualties following a single terrorist attack. Despite whatever magical indices they use, I think that solely basing your ranking on a single event is extremely careless. Especially when you have clearly not even investigated that single event.
The attack the report refers to is one that took place in February following the announcement of the referendum results. A rebel militia, led by George Athor had attacked Fangak County. There were two belligerents in this attack, the rebel militia and the SPLA. Who initiated the attack first is up for debate but the fact that this was clearly a military operation means that this was NOT an act of terrorism.
Phillip Aguer, spokesman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, in a separate interview confirmed 105 people were killed. Reports from the area indicate that 105 people from both sides have killed: 39 civilians, 24 police and 42 from Athor’s men. (link)
Yes, there were civilian casualties, but most military operations in this day and age have civilian casualties. It does not mean that the militias were deliberately targeting them. These various rebel militias, while being an absolute tragedy to the peace of South Sudan, are trying to gain the support of the public while crippling the SPLA. It makes absolutely no strategic sense for them to target civilians. If there were anyone who were targeting civilians, the SPLA would be the one responsible as we have seen in Mayom County.
But that is not the issue. The issue is that these ignorant desk jockeys should really do their homework before they go ahead and scare away any potential foreign investment for South Sudan. I mean, seriously, a simple search in Google or Sudan Tribune would have even sufficed. That is why I get the feeling that they ranked South Sudan as 5th simply because of the juicy publicity that comes with failing the new country. Well done…your publicity stunt has now assured your status as complete failures in your industry of weavers of nightmares for the corporate world.
As a side note, the UK has been classified as medium threat. I would strongly suggest Maplecroft change that to extreme because I’m about to go terrorise their mom’s house.