Navanti Releases 2019 Periodic Table of Terrorist Groups

Now Available: Updated Navanti Periodic Table of Terrorist Groups (2019)

For nearly a decade, Navanti Group has published the Periodic Table of Terrorist Groups (PTTG). This is an infographic that provides our team of analysts and partners around the world with a simple visual layout of the State Department’s list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO list). The table includes information about a group’s years of existence, size, number of attacks, official acronym, and whether the group is currently active. The table is split into seven groups: one individual group for terrorist organizations that have active membership globally, and the remaining six for organizations that have operations primarily in a specific region of the world: Africa, Asia, South Asia, Europe, Middle East, and South America.

Key Notes

All previous references on the table to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have been updated to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as the latter is now more conventional in State Department documentation. ISIS was added to the FTO list in 2004, and since then several extremist groups around the world have pledged their allegiance to ISIS, forming at least eight capable affiliate groups that have a sizable number of adherents. However, not all the affiliate groups are included on the FTO list. 

Our team of analysts who closely monitor the group’s activities in Yemen contend that this ISIS faction should be recognized on the State Department’s FTO list. However, at present, ISIS-Yemen only has some members on the List of Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) which sanctions individuals under Executive Order 13224. Given that the entire organization is not part of the current FTO list, the group has not been represented on this 2019 updated table.  

The Periodic Table of Terrorist Groups list is compiled using only the State Department’s list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

There are several other changes to the PTTG for 2019: 

Inactive Groups

The dissolution of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

In Europe, ETA announced its dissolution in May 2018. After years of inactivity and no indication of a resurgence since the declaration of defeat by the Sri-Lankan military, we chose to change LTTE’s activity status.

Removed Groups

Dissipation of the Palestinian Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) 

In this 2019 update, the Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) was removed from the Middle East group. This organization was delisted by the State Department in June 2017. ANO was formed in 1974. While believed to be a relatively small group, ANO has over 50 attacks attributed to it. The group’s activity waned following the death of the founder in 2002 and reports state that the group was dormant since 2014.

New Groups

A surge in ISIS affiliate activity in Africa and South Asia

There are eight new additions to the PPTG for the following regions: Africa, Middle East, and South Asia. Half of these groups are ISIS affiliates that expanded their activity in these regions over the past few years. 


ISIS-Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS) and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA)

Both these organizations have been ISIS affiliates for the last four years. ISIS-GS has a small membership of about 40-60 fighters, and has carried out approximately 11 attacks. On the other hand, ISIS-WA has perpetrated hundreds of attacks in the region and is estimated to have a sizable membership numbering a couple thousand individuals. Given that ISIS-WA leadership emerged out of Boko Haram, there are currently some challenges distinguishing the two groups’ membership and activities. At present both groups are listed distinctly on the FTO List.  

Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM)

The group was formed in March 2017. An average of over one hundred attacks were reported between the time of its formation and September 2018 when the group was added to the FTO list.

South Asia

Hizbul Mujahideen (HM)

This group has been in existence for 30 years. HM is a large Pakistani militant group that has orchestrated numerous attacks, primarily in the Kashmir and Jammu states in India.

ISIS-Bangladesh (ISIS-B) and ISIS-Philippines (ISIS-P)

Both groups are young and have a small number of members; however, their growing presence poses a significant threat. In 2018, ISIS-Philippines was estimated to have as a many as a hundred fighters on Mindanao Island. The Bangladesh government was put on high alert following the Easter bombings in Sri-Lanka when a poster began circulating that threatened a forthcoming ISIS attack in Bangladesh.

Middle East

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and al-Ashtar Brigades (AAB) +

Backed by the Iranian government, these groups are recent additions to the FTO list. They are a relatively unique type of terrorist group because of their clear linkages to a sovereign nation. Iran remains one of four countries that are officially designated as state sponsors of terrorism. The IRGC is a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces that has been in existence for about 40 years, and AAB is a six-year-old militant group that primarily operates in Bahrain. AAB has been associated with more than a dozen bombings against security personnel in Bahrain, as well as other gulf countries. Following its addition to the FTO list, AAB warned that it fully intends to execute more attacks.   

+ This acronym is identical to the one already given to Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which was added to the list in 2012. To create a distinction between the two groups, we have included asterisks next to the acronyms and the country of activity after the group’s full name. 

AAB* – Abdullah Azzam Brigades *Lebanon

AAB**– al-Ashtar Brigades **Bahrain 

Expanding Groups

A few groups experienced a marked increase in size or activity since the last update. Of note, over the last couple of years, there has been an expansion in the membership of Hamas and an increase in confrontations with the Israeli forces. The conflict over the governance of the Gaza Strip remains a major challenge for the region. The stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process has helped contribute to escalated conflict between Hamas and Israeli forces. 

To Access the 2019 Periodic Table of Terrorist groups, click here.