Terrorist attacks on businesses' supply chains shot up in 2016, according to a new report from the British Standards Institution (BSI), reaching their highest level ever.
Over the last decade, there has been an average of 3.7 attacks each week according to BSI's statistics. In 2016, there were 346 attacks in just one year – an 8.5 per cent rise on the previous year, averaging 6.7 attacks every week.
Associated costs from these incidents have also risen to record heights, and the BSI said it expects this figure to continue to grow.
“The direct impact from acts of terrorism and the indirect effects from terrorist organisations' exploitation of the supply chain have been, and will continue to be, critically felt across Europe,” said David Fairnie, principal consultant in supply chain security at BSI.
“Terrorist attacks in major cities and against key transportation nodes in the UK, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands have triggered heightened security levels and emergency border controls across the continent, leading to significant commercial impact on our clients' businesses.”
The attacks recorded by BSI range from cargo theft, hijacking and targeting oil infrastructure through to contraband smuggling, extortion and kidnapping.
The report defines terrorism as the unlawful use of force against people or property with the intent to intimidate or coerce a government or population in furtherance of a political goal or for economic gain.
Most recently, the vehicle attacks committed in Berlin and Stockholm were both perpetrated using stolen cargo trucks, drawing attention to the security gaps which supply chain businesses are leaving.
Aside from the direct consequences of these attacks on individual companies, industries are also affected indirectly. Following the Nice attack in July 2016, increased security checks at the port of Dover caused severe delays, with queues lasting up to eight hours.
Similarly following the Paris attack in November 2015, France imposed stricter controls along the borders with Belgium and Luxembourg costing companies an additional $59 (£46) per delayed vehicle. The total cost to shippers in Belgium was estimated at $3.5m within the first month following the attack.
Further afield, terrorism related to the Syrian conflict forced Lebanese officials to reroute $1bn worth of exports and resulted in the loss of $754m in revenue for the Jordanian trucking industry.
Isis was the terrorist group to commit most attacks against supply chains last year, but other groups which accounted for a significant number of attacks displayed a range of ideologies according to BSI. These include nationalist or separatist movements, and those with a Maoist or communist agenda.