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

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posted on 2020-07-24, 21:48 authored by Clara Marie EggerClara Marie Egger, Raul Magni-Berton, Simon Varaine

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).


Declaration of conflicts of interest

No conflicts of interest have been declared by the authors

Corresponding author email

Lead author country

  • Netherlands

Lead author institution

University of Groningen

Human Participants

  • No


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