Existing research on the subject of terrorism is vast, spanning causes of terrorism, the membership of terrorist groups, types of terrorist attacks, and more. One area of terrorism research, though, has received only limited consideration: terrorist target selection. What research does exist explains target selection almost exclusively as a function of ideology (Asal et al. 2009, 270 and 274; Drake 1998b, 54-56 and 58). However, such a limited causal focus obscures other possible, and probable, explanations of terrorist target selection. This paper proposes an alternative explanation of terrorist target selection that includes ideological and terrorist group capability variables, as well as a variable measuring the security levels in the geographic areas in which terrorist attacks take place. A research design employing multiple ordinary least squares regression is utilized. The findings demonstrate the importance of the independent variables, as well as the significance of the effects of the two-way and three-way interactions of variables from the three categories. Furthermore, the multiple regression models explain a greater percentage of the effects of the independent variables on the percentage of attacks against civilian targets when the three-way interaction variable is included than when this interaction variable is not included. From these findings, two primary policy implications are derived.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Haywood, Taylor, "Determinants of Terrorist Target Selection: A Quantitative Analysis" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5583.