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Analysis of a Strategic Terror Organization

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Author Info

  • Jonathan S. Feinstein

    ()
    (Yale School of Management, NewHaven, CT)

  • Edward H. Kaplan

    (Yale School of Management, NewHaven, CT)

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    Abstract

    The authors model a terrorist organization's choice over the scale and planning horizon of terror attacks and the consequences for the organization's evolution. The organization can engage in short-term attacks planned and executed in a single period, characterized by a low fixed cost and relatively high marginal cost, and longer term attacks planned and executed over two periods, having a high fixed cost but relatively low marginal cost. Longer term attacks require more resources and cause more damage if successful. Successful attacks increase the organization's size; in addition, the organization has a natural growth rate. Attacks can fail because of failed execution or counterterror interdiction. In a two-period version of this model, the authors analyze the terror organization's attack decisions. They use simulations to characterize optimal strategies and explore their implications for the growth of the organization. The authors identify a set of strategic regimes, and the results show that they always occur in a fixed order as a function of the organization's initial strength.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Peace Science Society (International) in its journal Journal of Conflict Resolution.

    Volume (Year): 54 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 2 (April)
    Pages: 281-302

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    Handle: RePEc:sae:jocore:v:54:y:2010:i:2:p:281-302

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    Web page: http://pss.la.psu.edu/

    Related research

    Keywords: terrorism; terrorist decision making; evolution of terrorist organizations; counterter-rorism; mathematical models of terrorism;

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    Cited by:
    1. S. Blomberg & Khusrav Gaibulloev & Todd Sandler, 2011. "Terrorist group survival: ideology, tactics, and base of operations," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(3), pages 441-463, December.
    2. Michael McBride & David Hewitt, 2012. "The Enemy You Can't See: An Investigation of the Disruption of Dark Networks," Working Papers 121307, University of California-Irvine, Department of Economics.
    3. Jonathan Feinstein & Edward Kaplan, 2011. "Counterterror intelligence operations and terror attacks," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 149(3), pages 281-295, December.
    4. Kaplan, Edward H., 2013. "Staffing models for covert counterterrorism agencies," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 47(1), pages 2-8.
    5. Hendel, Ulrich, 2012. ""Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under't": Mimicking behaviour of growth-oriented terrorist organizations," Discussion Papers in Economics 13998, University of Munich, Department of Economics.

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