Terrorist Inter-Group Cooperation and Terror Activity

Aditya Bhan, Tarun Kabiraj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present work is the first to formally model inter-outfit strategic cooperation in a manner which reveals that the cooperating terror outfits may conduct more, less or the same number of attacks as in the absence of cooperation; based on whether they are resource-constrained or not a priori; and on the extent to which cooperation can serve to ease such a constraint through inter-outfit resource-transfer. In the absence of external sponsorship, the paper shows that strategic cooperation between two outfits has no impact on terror activity if neither outfit is resource-constrained a priori. If only one outfit is resource-constrained a priori, on the other hand, then inter-group cooperation increases terror activity if and only if there is sufficient resource-asymmetry between the outfits. Further, if both outfits are resource-constrained a priori, then cooperation may increase or decrease terror activity depending on parametric asymmetries. Finally, it is demonstrated that while cooperation can neutralize the impact of strategic external sponsorship on terror activity and thereby remove the incentive for its provision, minor modifications to the sponsorship mechanism can often mitigate this phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1085-1106
Number of pages22
JournalGroup Decision and Negotiation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are greatly indebted to an anonymous referee of this journal for important comments, observations and suggestions. Comments from Vicki Bier and Aniruddha Bagchi, on an earlier draft, were also helpful.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature B.V.


  • Counter-terrorism
  • External sponsorship
  • Non-cooperative competition
  • Outfit cooperation
  • Terror attacks
  • Terror outfit


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