Global (Un)Civil Society. Terrorism. The Puzzle. Peter Benenson, Founder, Amnesty International. Osama bin Laden, Founder, al-Qaeda. Why do some transnational groups -- commonly known as terrorists -- resort to violence to achieve their aims?
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Global (Un)Civil Society
Peter Benenson, Founder, Amnesty International
Osama bin Laden, Founder, al-Qaeda
“Extremists” are weak relative to the goals they seek. That is, they lack significant popular support.
Target is uncertain about group’s capabilities or resolve (purple arrow).
Group attacks to make its demands credible (red arrow). Attack is a form of costly signaling.
Ex.: Sunni attacks on U.S. and Shiites in Iraq.
Home society or state is uncertain about preferences of Target.
Is Target imperialist?
Terrorist attacks Target to provoke a response.
Since Target cannot identify Terrorist precisely, collateral damage to Home.
Home “updates” its beliefs about Target’s preferences.
It really is imperialist.
Ex: Al-Qaeda attacks on 9/11; Palestinian attacks on Israel.
Target is uncertain about Home’s ability or desire to honor agreement and restrain extremists.
Terrorists attack Target, and Target updates its beliefs that Home cannot control Terrorists.
Target more likely to reject agreement as not credible.
Ex.: Hamas attacks prior to Israeli elections in 1996 and 2001.
Home is uncertain about Terrorist’s preferences
Which group is more committed?
Terrorists attack Target to demonstrate capabilities and commitment to Home.
Ex.: Fatah v. Hamas in West Bank.