Jihadism without borders: The rise of foreign fighters, affiliated terrorists and lone wolves outside civil wars

The globalization of jihad has taken various patterns ranging from the lone involvement in deadly attacks at home, violence as an affiliated terrorist or joining a foreign insurgency. Yet, the likelihood of violent engagement and the patterns it takes considerably vary across countries. This article aims to explain such cross-national variation. We emphasize how the level of perpetrator’s agency over two decisions - mobilization and target selection – is reflected in socio-economic conditions and foreign military interventionism that differ across countries. Consistently with our hypotheses, our analysis – focusing on global jihadism in support of ISIS (2014-2016) - shows that differences in the socio-economic conditions of Sunni Muslims explain the variation in jihadist mobilization, while varying levels of anti-ISIS foreign military interventionism explains variation in the selection of lone and affiliated terrorists targets. We further generalize these findings for non-ISIS jihadist domestic attacks (1992-2006).