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Is Islamist Terrorism More Dangerous?: An Empirical Study of Group Ideology, Organization, and Goal Structure


Journal of Terrorism and Political ViolenceJournal abstract

Scholars have traditionally argued that Islamist terrorist groups tend to commit higher casualty attacks. Noting that casualty rates of attacks vary widely across Islamist terrorist groups, this study advances an alternative hypothesis that group organizational features and goal structures better explain differing casualty rates than does the overarching ideological type. Using both cross-national analysis and a case study of post-invasion Iraq, I demonstrate that there are two basic types of Islamist terrorist groups whose organizational and goal-structure features explain divergent casualty rates: “strategic groups” that function similarly to secular national-liberation and regime-change movements and “abstract/universal groups” that are affiliated with the global al-Qaeda network.

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