Abstract and Keywords
Terrorism, understood as the killing of noncombatants in order to frighten, intimidate, or provoke others, has long been an important method of warfare or contention for both states and non-state groups. Yet states and rebels clearly do not attack just any noncombatants. Indeed, both states and rebels are also usually interested in securing the support of noncombatants. So who are the noncombatants whom warriors choose to attack? Armed groups have an incentive to attack and terrorize those noncombatants who support enemy states or rebels politically or economically. Terrorism is thus a method of undermining indirectly one’s armed enemies. By contrast, armed groups do not have an incentive to attack noncombatants who do not support enemy states or rebels. Whether noncombatants are supporters of states or rebels, in other words, is the key to understanding why terror tactics are or are not likely to be employed against them in any particular conflict.
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