A recent study by global risk analytics firm Verisk Mapelcroft, which advises banks and insurers on threat of a terrorist strike, has put 64 cities across the world at extreme risk of an attack. Of these 64, two Indian cities feature in the list, Imphal and Srinagar.
Surviving 380 terror attacks which left 1,141 people dead and 3,654 injured, Baghdad tops the list, making it the world’s highest risk urban centre.
The research was conducted based on the frequency of attacks in the 12 months leading up to March 2015, and combined that with the longer-term record of attacks in the last five years.
Verisk analysed 1300 of the world’s urban centres and ranked them based on the intensity and frequency of attacks. Of the 64 cities placed under extreme risk, 27 are from the Middle East and 19 are from Asia.
In India, Imphal was ranked 32 and Srinagar 49, under extreme risk. Chennai at 176, is the third city termed at ‘medium’ risk of an attack. Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata were categorised as “low” risk and were ranked, 298, 447 and 212 respectively.
Head of Maplecroft India, Arvind Ramakrishnan told the Times of India , “W hen it comes to Imphal and Srinagar, terrorist attacks aren’t on commercial targets as much as against the security forces. However n [sic] most of the other metropolitan cities, the targets are both to cause mass casualty and cripple its commercial hubs. Public transport networks in India are also prime targets”.
He also added, “T he Mumbai attack in 2008 was the turning point for India. But lack of intelligence sharing among states is a big worry. Law and order is still a state subject in India and political rivalries across states leads to state intelligence agencies not sharing actionable data. Virtually all police forces in India lack modern equipment and adequate manpower to counter a terrorist threat. This brings down the overall morale of the force. India does not face threats from cross border terror organisations but also from home grown ones like the Indian Mujahideen”.
Maplecroft added that just because a city has not seen a terrorist attack of late does not mean they aren’t facing one. The analysis is based on the intensity of attacks.
The one country that topped the list was Iraq. This most likely has something to do with the incursion of the Islamic State or ISIS, which has taken control of cities such as Mosul (ranked 2) and Ramadi (ranked 3). Eight of the 20 most targeted cities were in Iraq. Of the top 10, two Middle Eastern countries and three cities in Pakistan (Peshawar, Quetta and Hassu Khel) make up the list.
In Europe, Belfast has been termed the most dangerous city. Paris at 97 has been categorised as ‘extreme risk’ due to the recent Charlie Hebdo attack.
” The risk level in Paris is representative of a wider trend for Western countries, including Belgium, Canada and Australia, where the level of risk in key urban centres is substantially higher than elsewhere in the country, in part due to the significant PR value attached to such high profile targets by militant Islamist groups,” the study noted.
According to The Time , New York is ranked 369 after the 9/11 attacks. However, what is surprising is that two cities in the US beat New York in this listing, Las Vegas (184) and Kansas city (190). All three cities were well out of the ‘extreme risk’ category.
Of those 64 at extreme risk of a terrorist attack, 12 are capital cities including Egypt’s Cairo, Abuja in Nigeria, Nairobi in Kenya and Pakistan’s Islamabad.
Several global trends have left their mark on the risk list. While isolated incidents like Charlie Hebdo play a role in the risk assessment of the city, the rise of extremist groups like ISIS, Boko Haram and Al Shabab, landed a number of cities on the list.
An estimated 80% of global GDP is generated from these cities. Thus terror attacks play a greater role than the loss of life, they deeply affect the economy of cities and even countries.Feature image source: Deccan Chronicle