Insurgent Terrorism: Intergroup Relationships and the Killing of Civilians

10:00am - 11:00am


On Wednesday, February 23 at 10:00 a.m. ET, Victor Asal, Brian Phillips and R. Karl Rethemeyer provided a virtual talk on their new START-Oxford University Press book, “Insurgent Terrorism: Intergroup Relationships and the Killing of Civilians.” A recording of the event can be seen at this link. If you have any questions, please email the START events team at

Insurgent groups consist of individuals willing to organize and commit acts of terror to achieve their goals. By nature, they depend on public support, yet they sometimes target private civilians in addition to military personnel and government officials. This book examines insurgent embeddedness--the extent to which an insurgent group is enmeshed in relationships with the state, other insurgents, and the public--in order to understand why they attack civilians.

Using Big Allied and Dangerous (BAAD) as the dataset, this book drills into civilian attacks in specific contexts, including schools, news media, and nonmilitary/nongovernment spaces designed for the general public. This book goes one step further, presenting in-depth analyses of intergroup alliances and rivalries, their changes and determinants over time, and the implications for several types of bloodshed against civilians.

Insurgent Terrorism offers a comprehensive, modern approach for academics, students, and policy practitioners who seek to understand interorganizational relationships between insurgent organizations.

Victor Asal is the Director of the Center for Policy Research and a Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. His research focuses on violent nonstate actors (VNSAs), pedagogy and political discrimination related to ethnicity, gender and sexuality. He has been involved in research projects funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, The Department of Homeland Security, The National Science Foundation, and The Office of Naval Research.

Brian J. Phillips is a Reader in the Department of Government at the University of Essex, and an Affiliated Professor at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE) in Mexico City. His research focuses on subnational violence including terrorism, civil conflict, organized crime, and dynamics of violent groups. His research has been funded by the Department of Homeland Security, the National Science Foundation, and the Mexican Presidency.

R. Karl Rethemeyer is the Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a faculty member in SBS's School of Public Policy. His research spans terrorism, terrorist organizations, terrorist networks, counterinsurgency/stabilization operations, and the structure and operation of collaborative and policy networks in the public sector.

The START-Oxford University Press Book Series is edited by Laura Dugan (START Affiliate, The Ohio State University), Gary Ackerman (START Affiliate, University at Albany) and Anthony Lemieux (START Affiliate, Georgia State University). The series will approach terrorism conceptually as having a developmental “life-cycle.” Within this perspective, the series will treat terrorism as a phenomenon that has a set of interdependent phases: (1) the origins of extremism and the formation of terrorist groups; (2) terrorist dynamics and persistence; and (3) societal responses to terrorism.