The utility of NGO interventions: Influences on terrorist activity.

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Hodwitz, Omi
Dugan, Laura
Terrorism studies have increased following the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001. While a great deal of research has focused on the influence of state-sponsored counterterrorism strategies on terrorist activities, limited attention has been directed towards examining the influence of non-state actors on terrorist organizations (TOs). This dissertation seeks to assess the role that an influential but often overlooked player may have on terrorist activity: the non-governmental organization (NGO). Many TOs and NGOs engage in similar campaigns, primarily providing services or advocating for a shared constituency or minority that experiences suffering at the hands of a majority, usually the state. Both TOs and NGOs require the support of the constituents in order to maintain group legitimacy, fundraise, and recruit. In addition, both vie for media attention in order to publicize the issue, radicalize the larger community, and exert pressure on the state. Public support and attention is limited and difficult to acquire, placing TOs and NGOs in competition. As such, within the rational choice and game theoretic frameworks, when faced with an NGO competitor, TOs are hypothesized to adjust their activities in order to gain constituent support, media attention, and to eliminate the competition. Using data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), this dissertation assesses the influence that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Committee of the Red Cross, and local NGOs have on TOs in Algeria, Lebanon, and Turkey between 1987 and 2011. Results from autoregressive Poisson and negative binomial models demonstrate limited support for the hypothesized relationships. NGOs appear to have a marginal influence on TO activities in Algeria, an extremely limited impact in Lebanon, and no relationship in Turkey. Overall findings suggest two conclusions: NGO activities, in general, do not appear to escalate TO violence and NGO campaign activities specifically focused on de-escalating TO violence appear to be ineffective in these three countries. Replication is needed in additional countries to substantiate these findings.