Analysis of a Strategic Terror Organization
The authors model a terrorist organizationâ€™s choice over the scale and planning horizon of terror attacks and the consequences for the organizationâ€™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 organizationâ€™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 organizationâ€™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 organizationâ€™s initial strength.