Fundación Juan March Research project CEACS. Center for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences
Explaining Terrorist and Insurgent BehaviorFragmento de "Homenaje a Bardor". Antonio Saura

This web page contains information, papers and datasets related to an ongoing research project led by Ignacio Sánchez-Cuenca and Luis de la Calle about terrorist and insurgent behavior. We are interested in understanding the variation we find in the behavior displayed by terrorist and other armed groups on target selection, choice of violent tactics, and relationships with the local population and the support community. We also seek to identify the conditions under which different types of rebel groups emerge.

The driving motivation of this project is that territorial control is paramount to explain variation in violent behavior. Those armed groups that cannot liberate territory from the state's hands trigger a conflict dynamics which is quite different from that of groups with capacity to seize and hold territory. Clandestinity prevents underground rebels from mimicking guerrilla warfare, forcing them to rely on quintessential terrorist tactics. Territorial control, we claim, is largely conditional on state capacity.

We approach these issues conceptually, analytically, and empirically, as can be seen in the collection of papers already published during the last years. We discuss the vexed question of how to categorize violence and armed groups. We also develop a theory about the consequences of territorial control for levels of violence, types of tactics, recruitment patterns and other relevant features of political violence. And finally we have created several datasets, at different levels of aggregation that allow us to test some of our ideas and hypotheses. These datasets are publicly available and can be downloaded in this web page.

This research project is based at the Centre for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences (Juan March Institute, Madrid). Most of the funding comes from two projects financed by the Spanish Government (project SEJ2006-12462 and project CSO2010-21704).