Video Of The Day: 15 Years Of Terror

See the chilling terrorism timeline of the last 15 years as an animated map.

Efforts to combat terrorism were ratcheted up further than ever after the attacks in Paris last month, predictably resulting in actions like renewed airstrikes and reformatted immigration policies. But terrorism isn’t a new problem, and it’s not only a problem for the Western world – it’s been an increasingly large problem for most of the world year after year. A video by Milan Vuckovic, a German freelance graphic designer, shows the global scale of terrorism.

“15 Years of Terror: A Time Lapse Map” is Vuckovic’s newest project. The video shows a timeline of every terrorist attack that killed 21 or more people from Dec. 1, 2000 to the Paris attacks on Nov. 13, 2015. A moving timeline along the bottom of the video slides towards 2015 while shapes representing the approximate number of deaths plant themselves on the map. The data for the years 2000 to 2014 comes from University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, and numbers from 2015 come from news reports.

Vuckovic writes on his website that there can’t be “a perfect database of terror since terror is essentially ambiguous. That is how this video should be viewed, as well – something that provides a superficial impression of one aspect of our existence.” He advises that the video should only serve as an approximation of the last 15 years’ terrorist attacks, especially in what he dubs as the “messy parts.” Vuckovic was inspired by Isao Hashimoto’s similar time-lapse video “1945-1998,” which showed every nuclear explosion during those years.

Perhaps the most frightening thing about the video is that it highlights how quickly mass terror has become commonplace. The 2015 Global Terrorism Index published by the Institute for Economics and Peace states that 80 percent more people died from terrorism in 2014 than in 2013 (a jump of 18,111 to 32,685 deaths). Boko Haram in Nigeria and ISIS in the Middle East were responsible for 51 percent of all fatalities in 2014.

The video only shows attacks with more than 20 fatalities – something that many people commented on was a flaw. Vuckovic maintains that it was a matter of practicality for one person doing all of the work by himself.

Western viewers will notice that despite the attacks in New York City, London, Madrid and Paris receiving the majority of media attention, Africa, India and the Middle East fell victim to the highest number of attacks, as well as the highest death tolls. Showing this wasn’t a specific goal of Vuckovic’s, but he was aware that he was highlighting the discrepancy between the attention certain attacks received.

“Of course it is more important to my life if my neighbor steals doormats then that there’s a serial killer on the loose on the other side of the planet,” Vuckovic wrote in an email. “It’s tragic, but that’s just how humans are. Then, of course, you have to admit that we westerners are terribly egocentric – we don’t even look at how other countries around the world perceive and report on ours.

“On the other hand, I was shocked to find out how very little we know about terror attacks occurring geographically distant to where we are. The scale of this really threw me.”

Predictably, the majority of terrorist attacks happened in places with active wars. Iraq does not have a single blip on the map until after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

“The important thing is that this is for the sake of education,” Vuckovic said in his email. “If, back in the day, all Nazis were sat down and it was explained to them that their racial theories are today considered pseudo-scientific, maybe it all could have been avoided. Only ideas can destroy ideas.”

Nickolaus Hines
Nickolaus Hines is a freelance writer in New York City. He graduated from Auburn University, and his recent bylines can be found at Men's Journal, Inverse, and Grape Collective.
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