There were more than 10,000 terrorist attacks worldwide last year — five times as many as there were the year of the Sept. 11 attacks, the leader of a new congressionally mandated task force on extremism told reporters.

Expand chart
Data: Global Terrorism Database; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. The incidents labeled as terror attacks include armed assault, assassination, bombing/explosion, facility/infrastructure attack, hijacking, hostage taking (barricade incident), hostage taking (kidnapping) and unarmed assault.

The big picture: After 9/11, the U.S. honed in on confronting terrorists and protecting the homeland, according to former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, a co-chair of the original 9/11 commission and co-chair of the new task force on extremism. But Kean told reporters there's been "no headway" on one of the commissions' recommendations following the 9/11 attacks: preventing the spread of Islamic terrorism.

Terror groups thrive on instability, a newly released report from the task force explains. Areas that have no solid governing power, are in the midst of a civil war or are suffering from a "breakdown of social order" are at the highest risk of fostering extremism.

  • Per the report, 77% of conflicts in the Middle East, the Sahel region in Africa and the Horn of Africa "have a violent extremist element," up from 22% in 2001.
  • But the damage brought on fragile states is only the beginning: "As more states suffer violent outbreaks of extremism ... international order unravels further."
  • And extremism undermines regional influence and fuels chaos, the task force explains, allowing powers like Russia, Iran and China to exploit threats for their own economic and strategic purposes.
  • Per the report, the U.S. "cannot compete effectively against China, Russia, or Iran as long as extremism fuels an arc of instability" in the region.

The bottom line: The report concludes that extremists are now focused on "establishing a new political order." The task force says the U.S. strategy must evolve into one of prevention, starting by strengthening the world's most at-risk states.

"Despite our best efforts since 9/11 to counter terrorism and protect the homeland, the threat of extremism and its danger to the United States has evolved, and it continues to grow.”
— Former Gov. Thomas Kean

Go deeper

Updated 33 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court blocks Alabama curbside voting measure

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Wednesday evening blocked a lower court order that would have allowed voters to cast ballots curbside at Alabama polling places on Election Day.

Whit it matters: With less than two weeks until Election Day, the justices voted 5-3 to reinstate the curbside voting ban and overturn a lower court judge's ruling designed to protect people with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate — The next wave is gaining steam.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases.

U.S. officials: Iran and Russia aim to interfere in election

Iran and Russia have obtained voter registration information that can be used to undermine confidence in the U.S. election system, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced at a press conference Wednesday evening.

Why it matters: The revelation comes roughly two weeks before Election Day. Ratcliffe said Iran has sent threatening emails to Democratic voters this week in states across the U.S. and spread videos claiming that people can vote more than once.