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Contingencies of Violent Radicalization: The Terror Contagion Simulation


This paper builds confidence in the terror contagion hypothesis that violent radicalization leading to predatory mass violence operates as a system. Within this system, the contingent values of key root causes create channels within which violent ideologies and terrorism emerge. We built a system dynamics simulation model capable of replicating historical reference modes and sophisticated enough to test the contingent values of these propositions. Of 16 propositions, we identified six root-cause propositions that must simultaneously exist, act in concert and explain the dynamics of their interaction which generate a terror contagion. Other propositions can strengthen or weaken an existing contagion but not eliminate it. We use an experiment to demonstrate how changing the contingent values of these propositions creates downward channels. This experiment helps reconcile the swarm vs. fishermen debate over the true root causes of violent radicalization. Within these channels, the contingent values can favor swarm or fishermen manifestations. The simulation and experimentation results enable the future development of the terror contagion hypothesis, provide a testing environment for research on violent radicalization, and provide a pathway to policy development in the combating of terrorism that arises from violent radicalization.

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Full Citation:

Clancy, Timothy, Bland Addison, Oleg Pavlov, and Khalid Saeed. 2021. "Contingencies of Violent Radicalization: The Terror Contagion Simulation" Systems 9, no. 4: 90. https://doi.org/10.3390/systems9040090

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