Terrorism in the context of civil war

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    Although scholars have focused primarily on transnational terrorism, much of the terrorism occurring worldwide is domestic terrorism carried out by rebel groups fighting in civil wars. This article examines variation in terrorism across civil wars, asking why some rebel groups use terrorism, while others do not. Rebel groups make strategic calculations, assessing how their government opponents and their own civilian constituencies will react to terrorism. Rebel groups challenging democratic governments are more likely to use terrorism, believing that their opponents will be sensitive to civilian losses and, therefore, likely to make concessions in response to violence. Rebel groups also consider the costs of violence, which depend on characteristics of the rebel group's civilian constituency. Rebel groups with broad civilian constituencies select lower-casualty civilian targets to minimize public backlash. Evidence from a new data set on rebel-group terrorism in civil wars from 1989 to 2010 provides support for these arguments

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1009-1022
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Politics
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Oct 1 2013


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