As Muslims observe Eid al-Fitr, the three-day festival marking the end of Ramadan, they celebrate the completion of a monthlong period of fasting, self-reflection, and spiritual renewal. It also marks the end of a holy month marred by several tragedies, from the attack in London that killed eight people to the blast that killed 17 people at an ice cream shop in Baghdad.
Such violence during Ramadan is not new. Previous Ramadans have witnessed a stunning rise in attacks relative to other months in recent years—an increase attributed, in part, to the Islamic State, and its attempts to transform the month of prayer and atonement to one of bloodshed and violence. Last year’s Ramadan, which took place between June 6 and July 5, was particularly deadly. In addition to a suicide-bombing in Baghdad, which resulted in the deaths of more than 200 people, ISIS also claimed deadly attacks in the U.S., Bangladesh, Lebanon, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. In May of last year, by contrast, only one major attack attributed to ISIS outside of Iraq and Syria was recorded.
This Ramadan was no different. Within the first three weeks, ISIS claimed more than 300 attacks in at least 12 countries, according to SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that tracks terrorist groups online. Though some of the most high-profile of these attacks included the ISIS-linked takeover of Marawi City in the southern Philippines and the attack on the London Bridge, the vast majority of these incidents—approximately 80 percent, according to SITE— took place in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS faces accelerating offensives against its strongholds of Mosul and Raqqa. It’s a number that puts ISIS on track to meet, if not exceed, its level of violence from last year’s Ramadan, which witnessed nearly 400 attacks in at least 16 countries (the full data from this Ramadan is not yet available).