Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 3 > Issue 4

Terrorist Factions

Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Associate Professor, Harris School, University of Chicago, bdm@uchicago.edu
Suggested Citation
Ethan Bueno de Mesquita (2008), "Terrorist Factions", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 3: No. 4, pp 399-418. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00008006

Publication Date: 31 Dec 2008
© 2008 E. Bueno de Mesquita
Security,  Civil conflict,  Interest groups,  Political psychology


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In this article:
The Model 
The Determinants of Ideology and Splintering 


I study howa variety of structural and strategic factors affect terrorist mobilization, the likelihood of a splinter faction forming, and the positions adopted by terrorist leaders. The factors considered include the state of the economy, the viability of institutions for the nonviolent expression of grievance, the ability of the factional leaders to provide nonideological benefits, and the risks associated with splintering. The model highlights that, for strategic reasons, changes in the structural environment often entail trade-offs between decreasing terrorist mobilization and increasing extremism. For instance, strengthening the economy or institutions for the nonviolent expression of grievance is found to decrease terrorist mobilization, increase the extremism of terrorist factions, and decrease the likelihood of a splinter faction forming. These results suggest competing micro-level effects of such changes on the expected level of violence that, because they are offsetting, might not be observed in macro-level data analyses, which have been the mainstay of empirical studies of terrorism.