A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

The Softest of Targets: A Study on Terrorist Target Selection


What factors may lead a terrorist organization to attack undefended and unaware civilians—or as we style them, “soft targets”? We examine two distinct processes in choosing to attack soft targets: the one-time decision to begin attacking soft targets and the continued use of violence against such targets. Our analysis points to ideology—specifically religion—as the decisive factor in turning to target civilians, while organizational factors such as group size and network centrality are related to the number of incidents perpetrated.

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Asal, Victor H., R. Karl Rethemeyer, Ian Anderson, Allyson Stein, Jeffrey Rizzo, and Matthew Rozea. 2009. "The Softest of Targets: A Study on Terrorist Target Selection." Journal of Applied Security Research 4 (July): 258-278. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19361610902929990?journalCod…

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