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Assassination as a terrorist tactic: a global analysis


Dynamics of Asymmetric ConflictJournal abstract

This study investigates what social, political, and economic conditions are associated with terrorist assassinations, and whether these conditions differ for suicide attacks. A series of negative binomial regressions are conducted across four two-year periods: 1995–1996, 2000–2001, 2005–2006 and 2010–2011. The dependent variables represent the count of total terrorist assassinations and suicide attacks taking place in countries worldwide. Independent variables measuring country-level conditions from various sources are used. Both assassinations and suicide attacks were found to be associated with some similar indicators. Certain indicators were uniquely associated with either assassinations or suicide attacks. Across most periods, countries that respect physical integrity rights experienced fewer assassinations and suicide attacks. During one period, politically stable countries experienced fewer assassinations and suicide attacks, while countries with a higher GDP per capita encountered more assassinations and suicide attacks. Across most periods, countries with more religious diversity experienced fewer assassinations, while countries with a high incidence of major episodes of political violence were associated with more assassinations. During one period, countries with more internally displaced persons experienced fewer assassinations, and more refugees originating from a country were related to more suicide attacks. Findings suggest that different terrorist tactics may stem from different underlying problems.

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