Less than 24 hours into the New Year, Turkey experienced the first major terrorist attack of 2017. We look back at the 10 terrorism attacks of the past year that made headlines.


A man waits to leave a flower for the victims outside a nightclub which was attacked by a gunman overnight, in Istanbul, on New Year's Day, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017.  Photo: AP

2017 started with a great tragedy for Turkey's Istanbul, a city already on high-alert for a terrorist attack. A gunman opened fire on Jan. 1, in the wake of the New Year celebrations in a Turkish nightclub, Reina, which is very popular among local celebrities and foreigners. The massacre killed at least 39 people, with almost 70 severely wounded. Among the victims are more than two dozen foreign nationals.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as a number of global leaders condemned the attack and offered condolences for those who lost their lives, including foreign citizens. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Greater Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack. Without doubt, the incident is a not a good sign. It reminds global leaders about the terrorism threat that has been persistently haunting the world since the turbulence in the Middle East started.

In summer, on June 28, Turkey faced another tragedy. At least 42 were killed and over 230 more injured at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport as a result of an explosion caused by three suicide bombers and gunfire. According to the Turkish authorities, the three suicide bombers were affiliated with ISIS.

Keeping this in mind, Russia Direct offers a list of the articles about the most violent terrorist attacks in 2016.  

1. Trucks instead of bombs: The new face of terrorism

A truck which ran into a crowded Christmas market Monday evening killing several people Monday evening is seen in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016. Photo: AP

On the eve of the winter holidays, Dec. 19, a heavy truck crashed through a crowd at a busy Christmas market in Berlin. This was another tragedy, which revealed a new strategy by the Islamist radicals: using trucks as instruments of terror. Even though the number of victims in Germany was significantly smaller than during other terrorist attacks in 2016 (police sources reported nine dead and 50 injured), the incident was a bad harbinger.

Read the full article here.

2. Hard lessons for the Kremlin from the Ankara assassination

Russian President Vladimir Putin during the funeral ceremony of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov, Dec. 22. Photo: RIA Novosti

On Dec. 19, the same day that the terrorist attack shook Berlin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was hosting journalists during a holiday event at the Foreign Ministry mansion in Central Moscow, and tragic news came from Turkey. For all gathered, the news was shocking: Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov was assassinated in Ankara during the opening of the photo exhibition titled “Russia Through the Lens of Turkish Eyes.”

A young man in a traditional black suit for guards fatally shot the Russian ambassador and shouted out in Arabic a well-known slogan of radical jihadists in all countries. “Don’t forget Aleppo,” the assassin then shouted as he pulled the trigger. “Don’t forget Syria.”

Russia Direct’s regular contributor Ivan Tsvetkov describes the incident as “an extraordinary case in the history of Russian diplomacy.” 

Read the full article here.

3. Will Europe tighten its migration legislation after a summer of terror?

Candles near a mall where the July 22 shooting took place leaving multiple people dead in Munich. Photo: AP

A series of explosions and numerous terrorist attacks shocked Europe during the summer of 2016. On July 22, Europe was shaken by an act of violence – a mass shooting close to a shopping center in central Munich, Germany. Although the Munich tragedy came just one week after the terrorist act in Nice, France, the police said on July 23 that there was no connection to ISIS.

The evidence suggested that the teenager was a “lone wolf,” similar to the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, who killed 77 people five years ago. Based on witness accounts, the attacker Ali David Sonboli expressed his hate for foreign migrants before starting to shoot. While a connection with ISIS was ruled out, experts assume that the main motive for the attack was anti-migrant sentiments.

Read the full article here.

4. Terror in Nice: Could it lead to more international cooperation?

Flowers and candles outside the French Embassy in Moscow in memory of the victims of the terrorist act in Nice. Photo: RIA Novosti

Despite the fact that many European countries, notably France, significantly stepped up anti-terrorism and security measures after the series of terrorist attacks in Brussels and in Paris in recent months, the July 14 incident in Nice, which coincided with the Bastille Day celebrations, indicated that terrorists were becoming more persistent.

More than 84 people, including a number of Russian tourists, were killed when a truck driven by a 31-year-old French citizen of Tunisian origin rammed through a police barrier and into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day along the Nice promenade. The tragedy was a reminder that such events are unpredictable and can take place anywhere.

Read the full article here.

5. Multiple explosions shake Brussels, leaving at least 28 dead

Airport workers embrace as they leave the scene of explosions at Zaventem airport near Brussels, Belgium, March 22, 2016. Photo: Reueters

A series of suicide bomb attacks in Brussels killed at least 28 people on Mar. 22, with two huge blasts at the city’s airport and another at a metro station in the immediate vicinity of the EU headquarters. The first two explosions took place at the Zaventem airport just before 8 a.m., resulting in the death of at least 13 people and leaving about 35 injured. Soon after, another explosion blasted through Maalbeek metro station, leaving 15 dead, according to media reports.

These incidents showed all signs of a coordinated, well-orchestrated attack like in the deadly multiple attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015. Coincidentally, the attacks came a day after Jan Jambon, Belgium’s interior minister, warned that terror attacks might take place following last week’s arrest of Salah Abdeslam, a suspected participant of November’s Paris attacks.

The attacks became be the first suicide bombings in Belgium, spurring fears about the growing threat from ISIS.

Read the full article here.

For an alternative opinion read: “Brussels attacks will force the Kremlin to face moral and political choices

7. The Orlando shooting reveals the ugly side of Russia's anti-Americanism

People hold up candles against a rainbow lit backdrop during a vigil for those killed in a mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub downtown Monday, June 13, 2016, in Orlando, Florida. Photo: AP

The summer of 2016 was challenging for the United States as well. A mass shooting took place in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12, leaving 50 people dead. An American-born man, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to ISIS and carried out the attack. Later, the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for the shooting.

However, the reaction of the Russian public to the massacre at the Orlando gay nightclub showed that the concept of international terrorism as a common enemy unfortunately is no longer enough to bridge the gap between Russia and the United States. However, after 9/11, the threat of international terrorism served as a unifying force between the two nations. Russia Direct’s contributor Ivan Tsvekov tries to account for the reasons of this trend.

Read the full article here.

Also read: “15 years after 9/11, the terrorists are winning

8. Kazakhstan finally forced to confront the threat of radical Islam

The Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev called the attack on police station in Almaty a terrorist act. Photo: RIA Novosti

On July 18, two gunmen killed three policemen and a citizen in Kazakhstan's commercial capital, Almaty. While it is not yet clear who is behind the attack, the shootings come a month after a deadly assault in the northwestern town of Aktobe.

On June 6, radicals linked to ISIS attacked two gun stores and a military unit in the city of Aktobe in one of the most notable and brazen attacks in Kazakhstan in recent years. According to investigators, the perpetrators had planned to seize arms and continue their attack in the city. However, as a result of a gunfight at the military unit’s headquarters, 12 of the attackers were killed and nine were detained. The Ministry of Interior recognized the events in Aktobe as a terrorist attack.

Read the full article here.

9. Russia and the West need to think beyond Syria to deal with ISIS

Nigerian soldiers man a checkpoint in Gwoza, Nigeria, a town newly liberated from Boko Haram. Photo: AP

The Jan. 31 atrocities committed by Boko Haram in a village in Nigeria that resulted in 86 people having been burnt alive, including a great number of children, indicate that the ISIS-led unique brand of terrorism is spreading throughout the world.

“The atrocities committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria are yet another example of the increasing global influence of ISIS and its capability to export terrorism,” Russia Direct’s contributor Jack Goldstone, a professor at George Mason University, argues in his column. “This should be a major concern for Russia and the West.”

Read the full version of the article.

10. Russia Direct Report: “Terrorism: Inside Russia's Syria campaign and the global fight against extremism

This report takes a closer look at the topic of Russia and anti-terrorism. Ever since Russia launched a military campaign against ISIS in October 2015, there has been increased interest in Russia’s efforts to roll back the gains made by Islamic extremists in the Middle East. Given the recent unprecedented terrorist attacks in both Paris and Brussels, the report tries to figure out if extensive cooperation between Russia and the West in tackling the problem is possible.

The report includes a brief overview of the goals, accomplishments and challenges of Russia’s military campaign in Syria. It also contains a review of the rise of extremism and terrorism in Europe, analyzes the link between the civil war in Syria and the growth of the terrorist threat to Europe, takes a closer look at the risk of terrorism being imported into Russia, and concludes with a consideration of possible ways that Russia and Europe might become part of the same anti-terrorist coalition.

Find more information about the report here.