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A Blessing or a Curse? State Support for Terrorist Groups

  • David B. Carter (a1)

Little existing work has systematically examined the factors that help terrorist groups survive or contribute to their failure. State support for terrorist groups is commonly thought to be a factor that helps groups to survive. I demonstrate with newly collected data that state sponsorship is not always helpful to terrorist groups. The resources provided by sponsors increase a group's ability to maintain itself internally. However, when a group has a sponsor that provides it with safe haven, the risk of the group being forcefully eliminated by the target increases. I argue that sponsors that provide safe haven can have incentives to provide information to the target about the groups to avoid potential costs from target military operations within their territory. The key empirical findings suggest that state sponsorship is a less serious problem for target states than many previously thought.

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