exploring the puzzle rebel terrorism
Good Governance, Political Conflict

Exploring the Puzzle of Rebel Terrorism

Author(s): Eric Keels
Date: December 11, 2018
Publication Type: Policy Briefs
Research Topics: Good Governance, Political Conflict

Overview:

The decision by rebel groups to employ terrorism is influenced, in part, by the structure of rebel organizations as well as the strategic environment in which they operate. Rebel groups are more likely to use terrorism when they have close ties to vulnerable communities and are able to use media coverage of attacks to highlight their goals to their constituents. By understanding the strategic and organizational factors that lead to terrorism in war, conflict affected states and international stakeholders can take steps to reduce this form of violence. 

Key Findings:

 

  • Though terrorism is a ‘weapon of the weak,’ it is a costly strategy for rebel groups as it may alienate possible supporters.
  • Terrorism perpetrated by rebel groups is often the product of the organizational structure of insurgents and the strategic environment in which dissidents operate. Rebels use terrorism at a greater rate when they maintain parallel political wings that can reframe the media coverage of attacks to highlight the goals of their larger revolutionary struggle. This depends heavily, though, on the ability of the press to independently cover terrorist violence. 
  • Rebels that maintain political wings that have built close ties with vulnerable communities will avoid terrorism when there is no way for them to reframe violence.

 


Related Publications

Threat of World War

THE ENDURING THREAT OF A LARGE INTERSTATE WAR

Written by Aaron Clauset on September 20, 2017

Since 1945, there have been relatively few large interstate wars, especially compared to the preceding 30 years. The implications of this pattern, sometimes called “the Long Peace,” remain highly controversial. Is this an enduring trend toward peace

Read more
women's rights and civil society in the Philippines

Advancing Women's Rights in Davao City, Philippines: The Role of Local Civil Society

Written by Kelsey Coolidge on June 6, 2017

Civil society actors play an influential role in supporting human rights.

Read more

Climate-Induced Migration and Instability: The Role of City Governments

Written by Ambika Chawla on June 5, 2017

Trends in urbanization and climate change are altering the nature of human settlements. As the number and impact of severe weather events increases, countries and cities are forced to cope.

Read more

Stable Seas: Somali Waters

Written by Ben Lawellin on May 1, 2017

This report shows how complex issues like illegal fishing, coastal violence, and human trafficking intersect to create a uniquely insecure maritime environment in Somali waters.

Read more
Multi-stakeholder Collaboration Fact Sheet

Fact Sheet: Multi-stakeholder Collaboration

Written by Conor Seyle, OEF Research, Kelsey Coolidge on April 20, 2017

This guide was produced by the Stanley Foundation in collaboration with the Stimson Center. It reviews findings from a seven week consultation process with eighty-two professionals working in global governance.

Read more
Refugees and National Security

Fact Sheet: Refugees and U.S. National Security

Written by Conor Seyle, OEF Research, Kelsey Coolidge on February 24, 2017

This fact sheet provides an overview of the US refugee admittance process and the current research on the threat posed to US national security by refugees.

Read more

Improving Election Prediction Internationally

Written by Ryan Kennedy, David Lazer, Stefan Wojcik on February 3, 2017

Assumptions underlying election result predictions have been encountering wide criticism.

Read more

Pages