Jihadism: Tracking a month of deadly attacks

Jihadism: Tracking a month of deadly attacks

Organisation: BBC News Visual Journalism team (United Kingdom)

Publication Date: 04/09/2015



Data visualisation of the year (small newsroom, large newsroom). Every day acts of violence by a number of jihadist groups – whether in Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan or elsewhere – are making news headlines. With this unique project we sought to find out the scale and geographical distribution of those groups, networks and individuals pursuing violence in the name of jihad. Where are they active and what is the human cost of their actions? We discovered that more than 5,000 people were killed by jihadist groups in one month across 14 countries. The visualisation of the data revealed that Nigeria and Afghanistan had almost the same number of casualties but in Nigeria the losses were mainly civilians, killed in relatively few, but large-scale, bomb attacks. Whereas in Afghanistan there were many smaller scale attacks, with military and police the main targets. This showed differing tactics by the jihadist groups in each country. The Visual Journalism team collaborated with a number of different groups on this project. The data was gathered by the BBC World Service, BBC Monitoring and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), King’s College London who together researched and validated a huge number of reports of violent attacks throughout the month of November 2014. The project also used data compiled by the Syrian Network for Human Rights, Violations Documentation Centre, Iraq Body Count, ACLED, and The South Asia Terrorism Portal. The digital challenge was two-fold: to create a compelling human story with data visualisations that was fully responsive - and to do this before the data had been gathered. In order to design the interactive we initially worked with a week’s worth of data from a previous month and extrapolated approximate figures for an entire month, however we realised the number of deaths could well vary between 3,000 and 8,000. The data story got more than 800,000 page views on the first few days of publication with large numbers of users exploring both the map and chart interactives. The interactive was featured on screen on the BBC World and UK news channels during several days of coverage focussing on jihadism around the world. It was also reversioned into five languages for BBC world service: Arabic: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arabic/middleeast/2014/12/141210_mapping_jihadism_vj Persian: http://www.bbc.co.uk/persian/world/2014/12/141211_l03_jihadists_killing Urdu: http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/world/2014/12/141210_mapping_jihadism_sq Hausa: http://www.bbc.co.uk/hausa/news/2014/12/141210_jihad_series_hausa_vj http://www.bbc.co.uk/pashto/world/2014/12/141211_insurgent_jehadist_attacks_november_2014 Some of the data was made publicly available before BBC publication for use by national newspapers in their own coverage. Examples: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/11/jihadi-groups-kill-5000-people-in-november http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2869362/5-000-deaths-MONTH-Shocking-toll-664-jihadi-attacks-14-countries-world-November.html#ixzz3Lc47Lw1t

Technologies used for this project:

We used a HTML5 canvas element to display the map and used D3 to draw the map and plot the points onto the canvas. The charts were made with html.
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