Chapter 13 Discussion Question Pointers

End of Chapter Question Pointers

Chapter 13 – Longevity of Terrorist Groups

Leena Malkki

  1. Regime type does not appear to have any systematic effect on terrorist group survival. Still, democratic and authoritarian states are very different operating environments for terrorist groups. What kind of possibilities and constraints does each of these regime types pose for continuing terrorist attacks?
  2. You can start by thinking about differences between democratic and authoritarian states, for example in terms of media freedom, the security forces, and legislation. How do you think these differences facilitate or hinder the use of terrorism?

    Read carefully Sections 13.4.1. (State characteristics), 13.4.2. (Group characteristics), and 13.4.3. (Intergroup relations) in which the relationship between group longevity and numerous factors is discussed. Think about how their impact may be different depending on the regime type.

    If you want to take a deeper look at the relationship between terrorism and regime type, this article is a great place to start: Chenoweth, E. (2013), ‘Terrorism and Democracy’, Annual Review of Political Science 16: 355-378.

  3. Is there any relationship between the longevity of terrorist groups and population size? How would you explain it?
  4. This issue was discussed in the chapter so you already know the answer to the first question. There is no definite explanation for why it is so. Use your imagination to create hypotheses. How exactly could the population size have that effect on the number of terrorist attacks?

    If you are interested in further exploring this issue, this article discusses the potential explanations as well as partially challenges the research results presented in this chapter: Lutz, J.M. and Lutz, B.J. (2017), ‘The Ambiguous Effect of Population Size on the Prevalence of Terrorism’, Perspectives on Terrorism 11/2: 49-57.

  5. Why do you think so many groups stop using terrorism within one year after the first attack?
  6. Terrorist attacks may seem easy to commit, but they are not, especially if they want to commit more than one attack. What kind of capabilities and resources are needed for terrorism? Why these may be difficult to obtain and maintain?

    Terrorist attacks have often many kinds of consequences and they are not always positive from the perpetrators’ point of view. Can you think of ways in which the consequences of terrorist attacks can discourage from committing more attacks?

  7. Can you think of other factors that might affect the longevity of terrorist groups than those discussed in this chapter?
  8. One way to approach this is to think about motivations and capabilities. What may motivate a group to continue using terrorism – or discourage from that? What is needed to continue terrorism – and what may prevent a group from doing it?

    Instead of looking for general factors that apply everywhere, it may help if you think about what might affect longevity in a specific context, for example your own country or western liberal democracies.

  9. What kind of learnings can be drawn from this chapter for developing counterterrorism policies?
  10. As the objective of counterterrorism policies is to reduce terrorism, this is essentially a question of what reduces the longevity of terrorist groups. Go through the chapter and identify factors that may lead to an early demise of terrorist groups. Think about whether and how the state would be able to influence them.