20 June 2009

New Article on Terrorist "Soft Target" Selection

The Softest of Targets: A Study on Terrorist Target Selection

Authors: Victor H. Asal a; R. Karl Rethemeyer a; Ian Anderson a; Allyson Stein a; Jeffrey Rizzo a; Matthew Rozea b

Affiliations: a University at Albany-SUNY, Albany, New York, USA
b Albany Law School, Albany, New York, USA

Journal of Applied Security Research, Volume 4, Issue 3 July 2009 , pages 258 - 278. DOI: 10.1080/19361610902929990


What factors may lead a terrorist organization to attack undefended and unaware civilians—or as we style them, “soft targets”? We examine two distinct processes in choosing to attack soft targets: the one-time decision to begin attacking soft targets and the continued use of violence against such targets. Our analysis points to ideology—specifically religion—as the decisive factor in turning to target civilians, while organizational factors such as group size and network centrality are related to the number of incidents perpetrated.