Suicide terrorism and the backlash effect

B. Peter Rosendorff, Todd Sandler

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This paper presents a game-theoretic model of suicide terrorism containing three agents: the terrorist leader; a targeted government; and potential terrorist supporters. Supporters join the terrorist group if they gain more from their participation than from their economic opportunities. Preemptive measures by the government can result in a backlash that encourages recruitment through new grievances. Suicide attacks can also lead to recruitment. Increases in preemption costs and/or economic opportunities can reduce the overall level of terrorism, while increasing the proportion of suicide to normal attacks. An increase in the effect of preemption on recruitment, or the propaganda effect of suicide bombings has the opposite effect of increasing normal and suicide attacks, but decreasing the proportion of suicide to normal attacks in the terrorist organization's strategy profile.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)443-457
    Number of pages15
    JournalDefence and Peace Economics
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Oct 2010


    • Backlash
    • Game theory
    • Mobilization
    • Preemption
    • Recruitment
    • Suicide terrorism
    • Terrorism

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
    • Economics and Econometrics


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