Understanding and Influencing Public Support for Insurgency and Terrorism

Understanding and Influencing Public Support for Insurgency and Terrorism

Paul K. Davis
Eric V. Larson
Zachary Haldeman
Mustafa Oguz
Yashodhara Rana
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 270
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Understanding and Influencing Public Support for Insurgency and Terrorism
    Book Description:

    Using and testing a conceptual model that draws on social science and particularly social movement theory, this volume examines public support for al-Qa'ida's transnational jihadist movement, the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan, the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Turkey, and the Maoist insurgency in Nepal. The authors discuss which factors were most salient across cases, how their importance varied in each case, and how this understanding can inform strategy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-5877-5
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xiii-xxxvi)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxvii-xxxviii)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    In 2009, RAND published a study that reviewed and integrated social science relevant to understanding terrorism and counterterrorism.¹ The study introduced a number of conceptual models to help think about and discuss complex issues. Follow-on projects were commissioned to further check and extend the conceptual models, drawing on a variety of information sources. One of those, the present study, focused on public support for both insurgency and terrorism.² We looked at topical issues involving al-Qa’ida and the Taliban, but also at insurgencies with a different character (those involving the Turkish PKK and the Maoist movement in Nepal).³

    Against the background...

  9. CHAPTER TWO A Conceptual Model
    (pp. 11-34)

    A factor tree is a graphical depiction of the static aspects of a conceptual causal model,¹ one that can be understood quickly by a group of people with diverse backgrounds and then used as a basis for discussion and debate.² No technical background is needed in, e.g., mathematical graph theory, system dynamics, or other forms of modeling. A factor tree shows the factors contributing to a phenomenon at a snapshot in time and arranges them in layers of increasing detail in an approximate hierarchical tree showing how factors relate to each other.³ It is to be understood that, over...

  10. CHAPTER THREE The Case of al-Qa’ida
    (pp. 35-70)

    The purpose of this chapter is twofold: (1) to construct and discuss an application of the overall conceptual model (Figure 2.4) for the case of al-Qa’ida (a case relating more to global terrorism than to local insurgency) and (2) to illustrate in considerable depth the value of that part of the model drawn from social movement theory. The brevity of the first part is due to our having already used a good deal of knowledge about al-Qa’ida in the earlier factor-tree work on terrorism and, thus, not having new original work bearing on most aspects of the model. The exception...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Public Support for the Taliban Insurgency in Afghanistan
    (pp. 71-98)

    This chapter examines public support during a period in 2009–2010 for the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Our research for this case began with the initial factor tree (Figure 2.2) and the supplementary social-movement theory lens (Figure 2.3), both of which are described in Chapter Two. We assessed the effectiveness of those for the case of the Taliban and suggested improvements to the conceptual modeling. Those were reflected, along with improvements suggested by other cases, in the study’s final factor tree (Figure 2.4). For convenience to the reader, the discussion in the last part of this chapter is organized in...

  12. CHAPTER FIVE Public Support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey
    (pp. 99-118)

    This chapter reviews reasons for public support of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, the PKK). What became the PKK began as a small clandestine cell of Marxist and nationalist radicals in 1973; it turned into a complex terrorist organization that to this day maintains a few thousand armed fighters and manages to muster at least a few percentage points for its legal party in general elections. It issued a manifesto of Kurdish independence in 1978 (see also the chronology in this chapter’s appendix).

    The discussion that follows is organized largely round the toplevel factors of Figure 2.2:...

  13. CHAPTER SIX Public Support for the Maoists in Nepal
    (pp. 119-150)

    This chapter assesses and suggests refinements of the methods mentioned in Chapters One and Two by discussing the case of Nepal’s Maoist insurgency through 2010. This case is of interest for a variety of reasons, including being less familiar than many, dealing with a recent insurgency in Asia, and having an outcome in which insurgents became part of the government. After brief discussion of methodology we provide some broad background. We then use the model described in Chapter Two as the organizing basis for reviewing the case. We end with some conclusions, including suggestions for the conceptual modeling that were...

  14. CHAPTER SEVEN Comparisons and Implications for Analysis of Strategy
    (pp. 151-174)

    In this chapter, we first summarize how our conceptual model fared overall and how the relative salience of factors compared across the various case studies. We then use a model of “persuasive communications” drawn from earlier work to let us relate our conceptual model of public support for insurgency and terrorism to issues of strategy. We end the chapter with some suggestions for those involved with such matters, whether under the rubrics of public diplomacy, strategic communication, or influence operations.

    The initial conceptual model of public support for insurgency and terrorism introduced in Chapter Two (Figure 2.2) held up well...

  15. APPENDIX Polling on Public Support for Terrorism in the Islamic World
    (pp. 175-202)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 203-232)