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Hard and soft targets: the lethality of suicide terrorism
Jönköping University, School of Education and Communication, HLK, Global Studies.
2015 (English)In: Journal of International Relations and Development, ISSN 1408-6980, E-ISSN 1581-1980Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Many scholars have assumed that suicide terrorism is the most lethal form of terrorism. Increasing lethality is important for the terrorists’ expected ability to coerce target states and may explain the increasing popularity of suicide terrorism since the 1980s. This article analyses statistically the lethality of suicide terrorism and suicide bombings with 96,649 terror incidents in the Global Terrorism Database. The results corroborate the hypothesis that suicide terrorism inflicts more casualties than other terrorist tactics. However, suicide bombings are not associated with a greater increase in the casualty rates as compared with non-suicidal terrorist tactics involving, for example, the use of firearms. Moreover, neither suicide terrorism in general nor suicide bombings in particular are associated with an increase in the count of dead when there are many soft targets to choose from, such as in Palestine and Afghanistan. The lethality of suicide bombings is the greatest when there are many hard targets, such as in Israel.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hj:diva-27647DOI: 10.1057/jird.2015.25OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hj-27647DiVA: diva2:844017
Available from: 2015-08-03 Created: 2015-08-03 Last updated: 2015-08-04

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Nilsson, Marco
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