Would you like to know more about the ten biggest terrorist groups in the world? You have probably heard their names mentioned with frequency in the news, as their violent acts never go unnoticed. Some terrorist organizations have been around for decades, while others are rather new. However, they all have one thing in common: their preference for violence and their radical views. In some regions, these groups seek to overthrow governments; in others, they simply spread fear, while there are also those who make financial gains or territorial conquest their focus of attention.
In order to determine which are the biggest terrorist groups in the world, we have turned to the U.S. Department of State, and checked which organizations have been more active, have the largest number of members, or the most amount of money. After all, some groups can do more damage with hard cash than others with weapons.
If you have read one of our previous lists on the 10 most dangerous places in the world, you won’t be surprised to learn that some of the biggest terrorist groups in the world roam the streets of these regions. The absence of government presence and thus, of the rule of law, make certain countries an ideal breeding place for terrorism. Training grounds can be established, and violence utilized without fearing the consequences. Yet the most important aspect is usually one of monetary nature, and as criminal activities are the bread and butter of terrorist groups, lawless areas are a great way to build up an entire organization without encountering too much resistance.
Some of the biggest terrorist groups in the world however, are quite different from the common stereotype. Born from nationalist movements, guerrilla fighters initially involved in struggles for independence sometimes resort to acts of terrorism, only to follow that path of violence with no return. Whatever the motivation behind their actions, terrorist groups have been increasingly widespread and dangerous, and the following ten stand out as the largest of their kind.
10. Boko Haram
This Nigerian terrorist organization not only advocates the overthrow of their government, but also seeks to turn Nigeria into an Islamist country. Boko Haram recently made headlines following the bombing of the U.N. Headquarters, and the abduction of 200 school girls.
The countdown of the biggest terrorist groups in the world continues on the next page with a branch of Al-Qaeda.
9. al-Nusra Front
This branch of Al-Qaeda is active in the Syrian Civil War, and has been on the radar of the Department of State ever since its creation in early 2012. The al-Nusra Front has also been declared a terrorist group by the UN, the UK, Australia, and Turkey.
8. Kurdistan Worker’s Party
Dating back as far as 1978, the Kurdistan Worker’s Party or PKK, has been struggling for the creation of an independent Kurdish state. This terrorist group is active in Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, making it quite a force to be reckoned with.
7. Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan
Operating in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan, a region where drone strikes are as frequent as the attacks perpetrated by terrorists, the Tehrik-e-Taliban are involved in a prolonged struggle against the US and the state of Pakistan.
Based out of Lebanon, the group emerged during the civil war of 1982. It is a sworn enemy of Israel and the Sunni Arab nations, yet it harnesses growing support from the civil population. Social activities and the provision of certain community services, have given Hezbollah a good name with their people.
This terrorist group has been waging a war for decades against Israel, in what it sees as a fight against an illegal occupant of Palestinian land. HAMAS has perpetuated numerous acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians, resorting to suicide bombers and missiles to carry out their deeds.
4. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
Although not many are aware of its activities, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia remains one of the largest terrorist organizations in the world. They continue to be responsible for a great deal of illegal drug production, they continue to hold large portions of land, and they continue to wield considerable influence.
After it was removed from the government of Afghanistan, the Taliban have led a bloody war against American forces, which even spilled over to Pakistan. Originally founded by Pashtun tribes, this terrorist group receives support from several Islamic nations.
Although it might not be the star in major headlines this year, hardly anyone will forget about Al-Qaeda. Established in 1989 by Osama Bin Laden, responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and boasting a huge network of operatives, this terrorist group is the face of modern terrorism.
After splitting apart from Al-Qaeda, The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (or ISIS), has turned into the largest terrorist organization on the planet. Although they proclaim to be a jihadist militant group, the crimes committed by ISIS are countless. By taking over territory and looting, this group not only grows larger, but also richer every day.