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The Power to Resist: Mobilization and the Logic of Terrorist Attacks in Civil War

Polo, Sara MT and Gonzalez, Belen (2020) 'The Power to Resist: Mobilization and the Logic of Terrorist Attacks in Civil War.' Comparative Political Studies, 53 (13). pp. 2029-2060. ISSN 0010-4140

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Existing research has argued that terrorism is common in civil war because it is "effective." Surprisingly, however, only some groups use terrorism during civil wars, while many refrain altogether. We also see considerable variation in the use of terrorism over time. This article presents a theory of terrorism as a mobilization strategy in civil war, taking into account benefits, costs, and temporal dynamics. We argue that the choice and the timing of terrorism arise from the interaction between conditions for effective mobilization and battlefield dynamics. Terrorism can mobilize support when it provokes indiscriminate government repression or when it radicalizes rebels' constituency by antagonizing specific societal groups. The timing of attacks, however, is in uenced by battlefield losses, which increase rebels' need to rally civilian support. The analyses of new disaggregated data on rebels' terrorist attacks during con icts (1989-2009) and of ISIS tactics in Iraq and Syria support our theoretical argument.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: civil war, rebel groups, terrorism, mobilization, con ict dynamics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Government, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2020 12:35
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:09

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