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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Terrorist innovation poses a significant challenge to armed forces and civilian populations around the globe. New methods of attack challenge state defenses and increase the odds of successful, high-casualty operations. This chapter presents an overview of the causes and consequences of terrorist innovation. It begins by examining some of the most well-known innovations that have shaped terrorists’ operational patterns, and it considers ways to distinguish between major tactical innovations (e.g. suicide bombings) and minor tactical innovations (e.g. the continual refinement of improvised explosive devices). Then, the benefits and drivers of innovation are reviewed, as well the group and country-level factors that make innovation likely. This includes organizational structures, access to resources, peer competition, and safety from governmental repression. Finally, the chapter concludes by discussing some of the challenges that prevent the identification of potential innovators as well as suggestions for future research.

Keywords: terrorist innovation, suicide bombing, improvised explosive devices, operational success, peer competition, organizational structures

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