2021-whittaker.pdf: “The online behaviors of Islamic state terrorists in the United States”, (2021-01-03; ):
Research Summary: This study offers an empirical insight into terrorists’ use of the Internet. Although criminology has previously been quiet on this topic, behavior-based studies can aid in understanding the interactions between terrorists and their environments. Using a database of 231 US-based Islamic State terrorists, four important findings are offered: (1) This cohort utilized the Internet heavily for the purposes of both networking with co-ideologues and learning about their intended activity. (2) There is little reason to believe that these online interactions are replacing offline ones, as has previously been suggested. Rather, terrorists tend to operate in both domains. (3) Online activity seems to be similar across the sample, regardless of the number of co-offenders or the sophistication of attack. (4) There is reason to believe that using the Internet may be an impediment to terrorists’ success.
Policy Implications: The findings of this study have two important policy implications. First, it is vital to understand the multiplicity of environments in which terrorists inhabit. Policy makers have tended to emphasize the online domain as particularly dangerous and ripe for exploitation. While this is understandable from one perspective, simplistic and monocausal explanations for radicalization must be avoided. Terrorists operate in both the online and offline domain and there is little reason to believe that the former is replacing the latter. The two may offer different criminogenic inducements to would-be terrorists, and at times they may be inseparably intertwined. Second, when policy responses do focus on online interventions, it is vital to understand the unintended consequences. This is particularly the case for content removal, which may inadvertently be aiding terrorists and hampering law enforcement investigations.
2019-brugh.pdf: “Gender in the jihad: Characteristics and outcomes among women and men involved in jihadist-inspired terrorism”, Christine Shahan Brugh, Sarah L. Desmarais, Joseph Simons-Rudolph, Samantha A. Zottola
2013-kruglanski.pdf: “Terrorism—A (Self) Love Story: Redirecting The-Significance-Quest Can End Violence”, (2013-10-01; ):
Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concepts of self-love (amour propre) and love of self (amour de soi même) are applied to the psychology of terrorism.
Self-love is concern with one’s image in the eyes of respected others, members of one’s group. It denotes one’s feeling of personal-significance, the sense that one’s life has meaning in accordance with the values of one’s society. Love of self, in contrast, is individualistic concern with self-preservation, comfort, safety, and the survival of self and loved ones.
We suggest that self-love defines a motivational force that when awakened arouses the goal of a the-significance-quest. When a group perceives itself in conflict with dangerous detractors, its ideology may prescribe violence and terrorism against the enemy as a means of s. gain that gratifies self-love concerns. This may involve sacrificing one’s self-preservation goals, encapsulated in Rousseau’s concept of love of self.
The foregoing notions afford the integration of diverse quantitative and qualitative findings on individuals’ road to terrorism and back. Understanding the-significance-quest and the conditions of its constructive fulfillment may be crucial to reversing the current tide of global terrorism.
2012-abrahms.pdf: “The Political Effectiveness of Terrorism Revisited”, (2012-02-16; ):
Terrorists attack civilians to coerce their governments into making political concessions. Does this strategy work?
To empirically assess the effectiveness of terrorism, the author exploits variation in the target selection of 125 violent sub-state campaigns. The results show that terrorist campaigns against civilian targets are statistically-significantly less effective than guerrilla campaigns against military targets at inducing government concessions. The negative political effect of terrorism is evident across logit model specifications after carefully controlling for tactical confounds.
Drawing on political psychology, the author concludes with a theory to account for why governments resist compliance when their civilians are targeted.
[Keywords: terrorism, coercion, civilian targeting, political psychology]
2011-watson-costsofwar.pdf: “Microsoft Word - cow_cover.docx”, klynch ( )
2010-cochran.pdf: “It’s a Crime, but Is It a Blunder? The Efficacy of Targeting Civilians in War”, Kathryn McNabb Cochran, Alexander B. Downes ( )
2009-jones.pdf: “Hit or Miss? The Effect of Assassinations on Institutions and War”, (2009-07-01; ):
Assassinations are a persistent feature of the political landscape. Using a new dataset of assassination attempts on all world leaders from 1875 to 2004, we exploit inherent randomness in the success or failure of assassination attempts to identify the effects of assassination. We find that, on average, successful assassinations of autocrats produce sustained moves toward democracy. We also find that assassinations affect the intensity of small-scale conflicts. The results document a contemporary source of institutional change, inform theories of conflict, and show that small sources of randomness can have a pronounced effect on history.
…To implement this approach, we collected data on all publicly-reported assassination attempts for all national leaders since 1875. This produced 298 assassination attempts, of which 59 resulted in the leader’s death. We show that, conditional on an attempt taking place, whether the attack succeeds or fails in killing the leader appears uncorrelated with observable economic and political features of the national environment, suggesting that our basic identification strategy may be plausible.
We find that assassinations of autocrats produce substantial changes in the country’s institutions, while assassinations of democrats do not. In particular, transitions to democracy, as measured using the Polity IV dataset (Marshall and Jaggers 2004), are 13% more likely following the assassination of an autocrat than following a failed attempt on an autocrat. Similarly, using data on leadership transitions from the Archigos dataset (Goemans et al., 2006), we find that the probability that subsequent leadership transitions occur through institutional means is 19% higher following the assassination of an autocrat than following the failed assassination of an autocrat. The effects on institutions extend over [long] periods, with evidence that the impacts are sustained at least 10 years later.
2009-kruglanski.pdf: “Fully Committed: Suicide Bombers' Motivation and the Quest for Personal-Significance”, (2009-05-08; ):
A motivational analysis of suicidal terrorism is outlined, anchored in the notion of significance quest. It is suggested that heterogeneous factors identified as personal causes of suicidal terrorism (e.g. trauma, humiliation, social exclusion), the various ideological reasons assumed to justify it (e.g. liberation from foreign occupation, defense of one’s nation or religion), and the social pressures brought upon candidates for suicidal terrorism may be profitably subsumed within an integrative framework that explains diverse instances of suicidal terrorism as attempts at significance restoration, significance gain, and prevention of significance loss. Research and policy implications of the present analysis are considered.
2007-shapiro.pdf: “Underfunding in Terrorist Organizations”, (2007-06-01; ):
A review of international terrorist activity reveals a pattern of financially strapped operatives working for organizations that seem to have plenty of money. To explain this observation, and to examine when restricting terrorists’ funds will reduce their lethality, we model a hierarchical terror organization in which leaders delegate financial and logistical tasks to middlemen, but cannot perfectly monitor them for security reasons. These middlemen do not always share their leaders’ interests: the temptation exists to skim funds from financial transactions. When middlemen are sufficiently greedy and organizations suffer from sufficiently strong budget constraints, leaders will not fund attacks because the costs of skimming are too great. Using general functional forms, we find important nonlinearities in terrorists’ responses to government counterterrorism. Restricting terrorists’ funds may be ineffective until a critical threshold is reached, at which point cooperation within terrorist organizations begins to break down and further government actions have a disproportionately large impact.
[Keywords: terrorism, funding, trade intermediaries, budget constraints, terrorists, bombings, spending, Nash equilibrium, nonlinearity, renewable resources]
1989-andrew.pdf: “From the Okhrana to the KGB: Continuities in Russian foreign intelligence operations since the 1880s”, Christopher M. Andrew ( )