World’s 5 Worst Terrorist Groups


Terrorism is defined as “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims,” and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a corner of the globe that hasn’t felt its impact. In fact, the 2011 documentary The Crisis of Civilization lists terrorism as one of the leading problems facing the planet, alongside climate change, food shortages, and unstable economies.

As individuals and nations quarrel over religion and resources, it’s no surprise that these groups are able to recruit followers from among the more disillusioned and radical members of society. Not all organizations are created equal, however, and some have enjoyed far more success than others (often to the detriment of innocent civilians). In this article, we take a look at the worst terrorist groups currently active.

Al-Shabaab – Based in East Africa, this group was founded in 2006 for the express purpose of forming an Islamic state and expelling foreign military forces from Somalia. They often obtain funding through kidnappings and piracy, and their most notorious acts have included a 2013 mall shooting in Nairobi (60+ dead) and an attack on a Kenyan university in 2015 (148 dead).

Taliban – Founded in 1994, this group was once supported by the United States and served as the rulers of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. They frequently kill innocents to advance their goals, and funds are often obtained from drug trafficking and human slavery. One of their most notorious attacks came in 2014, when they assaulted a military-run high school in Pakistan and murdered 141 students and teachers (mostly children).

Al-Qaeda – Devoted to a strict interpretation of Islamic law and determined to unite all Muslims, this group was co-founded by Osama bin Laden in 1988. They believe the killing of non-combatants is sanctioned by their religion, and they’ve done so at an alarming rate. Some of their most infamous deeds include the 2002 Bali bombings, the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings, and the September 11 attacks (the latter claiming 2,996 victims and $3 trillion in total costs).

ISIS – Currently the most notorious terrorist group on the planet thanks to their habit of beheading Western prisoners, ISIS mainly operates in countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Palestine. They’ve captured wide expanses of territory, recruited thousands of soldiers, and become well-known for brutally executing anyone who falls into their hands. They also benefit from significant coffers, controlling crude oil supplies that generate more than $1 million per day.

Boko Haram – While ISIS may get the majority of the headlines, this Nigerian jihadist group has actually racked up a larger body count in recent years. Their name translates to “Western education is sin,” and they’ve demonstrated their fanatical devotion to this phrase by kidnapping schoolgirls and burning students alive. In 2014, they were estimated to be responsible for 6,644 deaths (compared to 6,073 for ISIS).


Terrorism is a global problem that shows no signs of going away. Some of these groups were founded to actually make a positive difference, while others were simply excuses for madmen to exert their control. No matter what their reason for existing, however, these violent cabals always result in massive death tolls, fearsome reputations, and a trail of broken lives left in their wake.