Al Qaeda and Jihadist Terrorism in the Light of Contest Theory, Empirical Evidence for the period 2004-2008
This paper finds an empirical evidence that al Qaeda behaves as a contest organizer rewarding a prize to candidate extremist groups. Would-be terrorists must then compete with each other to prove their commitment and ability. Hence to maximize their own probability of winning the prize, each group (maximizes its effort). In particular, in the presence of costless information each candidate group can observe the results of attacks of other groups. Therefore, each group tries to make attacks at least equally destructive as the foregoing attacks. The testable implication is that: the number of victims of terrorist attacks is associated with the number of victims of past attacks. Resulting evidence confirms the hypothesis. However, results show that al Qaeda-style jihadist terrorist activity depends also upon grievance for poverty and socio-economic conditions.
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