Terrorists versus the Government: Strategic Interaction, Support, and Sponsorship

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Sandler, Todd & Kevin Sigueira (2006) Terrorists versus the Government: Strategic Interaction, Support, and Sponsorship, Journal of Conflict Resolution 50(6): 878–898.

To remain an ongoing concern a terrorist organization not only needs to retain a base of support, it also must withstand pressure from government policies that actively seek to erode that base and to forcibly eliminate the threat that the group poses to the government. In addition, a terrorist leader must balance their private interests with that of maintaining a sufficient level of militant activity. Given the disadvantages that such terrorist organizations face, one possible advantage that remains is the ability of such organizations to choose when to move and when to strike. However as the paper demonstrates, if the players are given the choice of when to move, a terrorist organization will tend to exert lower levels of militant activity when compared to that in the simultaneous-move game. This occurs irrespective of when they choose to move. The result provides the theoretical rationale for the role of outside support of terrorist and militant organizations.


Todd Sandler

Todd Sandler

Vibhooti Shukla Professor of Economics and Political Economy, University of Texas at Dallas