Terrorist networks and deadly force

January 25, 2013

When violent non-state organizations form alliances with each other, do they become more lethal? Ford School Assistant Professor Philip B. K. Potter and Associate Professor Michael Horowitz of the University of Pennsylvania seek to answer this question in their article Allying to Kill: Terrorist Intergroup Cooperation and the Consequences for Lethality, published in The Journal of Conflict Resolution this month. The article explores the networks of violent non-state actors, and how these connections bolster their deadly acts.

Although there has been extensive research on relationships within terrorist organizations, Potter notes that there is a lack of information on the relationships between organizations. The authors find that the alliance network has a core-periphery structure, where groups at the center gain in strength while those relegated to the periphery do not.

This research is a precursor to a Department of Defense-funded project in which Potter, Horowitz, and Erica Chenoweth (University of Denver) will assess relationships and interactions between terrorist organizations, non-state actors, state actors, and others.