T errorist groups attack civilians to force their governments into making policy concessions.
If target countries systematically resist rewarding terrorism, the international community is armed with a
powerful message to deter groups from terrorizing civilians.
The prevailing view within the field of political science, however, is that terrorism is an effective coercive
Target countries are routinely coerced into making important strategic and ideological concessions to
terrorists, their victories will reinforce the strategic logic for groups to attack civilians, spawning even more
This study analyzes the political plights of twenty-eight terrorist groups—the complete list of foreign
terrorist organizations as designated by the U.S. Department of State since 2001.
First, the groups accomplished their forty-two policy objectives only 7 percent of the time.
Second, although the groups achieved certain types of policy objectives more than others, the
key variable for terrorist success was a tactical one: target selection.
Groups whose attacks on civilian targets outnumbered attacks on military targets systematically failed to
achieve their policy objectives, regardless of their nature. These findings suggest that
1. rarely achieve their policy objectives
2. the poor success rate is inherent to the tactic of terrorism itself.
Together, the data challenge the dominant scholarly opinion that terrorism is strategically rational
article develops a theory to explain why terrorist groups are unable to achieve their policy objectives by
Pape: says suicidal increased because the terrorist believed it pays.
- 6/11 terrorist campaigns resulted in policy change by target state, and 50% success rate is
- Terrorism is generally effective in achieving terrorist group’s political gain .
Against Pape theories: his sample was modest and targeted only handful of countries.( 10/11 countries
he analyzed were directly against the same three countries: Israel, Sri Lanka and Turkey).
Pape’s data therefore reveal only that select terrorist campaigns have occasionally scored tactical
victories, not that terrorism is an effective strategy for groups to achieve their policy objectives
Measuring Terrorism’s effectiveness.
Terrorist campaigns come in two varieties
1. strategic terrorism aims to coerce a government into chan