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

Sub-state Actors' Threats to International Security: Religious Extremists and Terrorist Groups


A significant development in world politics has been the emergence of non-state actors as major participants and forces—both positive and negative—in the system. Trans-state actors include multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, epistemic communities, international organizations, insurgent groups, terrorist groups, etc. This chapter examines non-state threats from religious extremists and terrorist groups. This is not to suggest that non-state actors are always autonomous, independent of states—there are numerous instances of states creating, and/or supporting terrorist groups as their proxies. Nevertheless, terrorist groups have their own identity even if they are substantially or wholly dependent on a state entity. Terrorism is also a tactic used in pursuit of a political objective. This implies that terrorism and extremism are not exclusively the domain of non-state actors. State entities can and have engaged in terrorism.

This chapter shows the global diffusion of terrorism and describes the various motivating factors driving terrorist individuals and groups and their recruits, as well as enabling factors such as state-sponsorship. This chapter also embraces multiple theoretical approaches and uses examples from multiple regions to illustrate its points.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Joshi, Sharad. 2019. "Sub-state Actors' Threats to International Security: Religious Extremists and Terrorist Groups." In Understanding New Security Threats, eds. Michel Gueldry, Gigi Gokcek, and Lui Hebron. New York: Routledge.  https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=fH6JDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT135&ots=RdNVKCFrmA&sig=8Pr4puCCzUC0t1Pf7D1fr_YPLhI#v=onepage&q=joshi&f=false

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