The Journal of Politics


The Nature of the Beast: Organizational Structures and the Lethality of Terrorist Attacks

Victor Asala1 and R. Karl Rethemeyera1

a1 University at Albany—State University of New York


Why are some terrorist organizations so much more deadly then others? This article examines organizational characteristics such as ideology, size, age, state sponsorship, alliance connections, and control of territory while controlling for factors that may also influence lethality, including the political system and relative wealth of the country in which the organization is based. Using data from the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism's Terrorism Knowledge Base (TKB), we use a negative binomial model of organizational lethality, finding that organizational size, ideology, territorial control, and connectedness are important predictors of lethality while state sponsorship, organizational age, and host country characteristics are not.

(Received August 28 2006)

(Accepted September 10 2007)


Victor Asal is assistant professor of political science, University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222. R. Karl Rethemeyer is assistant professor of public administration and policy, University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222.