Author Biography

Srobana Bhattacharya is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science and International Studies in Georgia Southern University. Her research focuses on terrorism/counterterrorism, insurgencies in the Global South and a range of other national and international security issues and challenges. She teaches courses on Political conflict, International Terrorism and Ethnicity and Nationalism. She has conducted field research in India to understand the Maoist conflict and has published work on the challenges of conducting field research in conflict zones and also on the topics of rebellion, insurgency and terrorism.



Subject Area Keywords

Conflict studies, Security studies, Terrorism / counterterrorism


Terrorism is an extreme form of political violence, that is inherently abhorrent in nature. Yet, it continues to attain enough support to continue and survive. The recent proliferation of Islamic State and its ever increasing domestic and international civilian support base urges immediate attention to this question. While most research holds that provision of public goods by terrorist groups is the primary cause for high levels of civilian support, I argue that, terrorist groups are more interested in resource extraction rather than resource provision. Additionally, these studies pay scant attention to existing resource structure, especially territorial and political control to explain terrorist-civilian interaction. This paper emphasizes the bi-directional nature of this interaction – a. perception of civilians by the terrorist group and b. terrorist group’s perception of the civilians. To analyze levels of civilian support for terrorism, I compare fifteen terrorist groups using qualitative comparative analysis and show how territory, political competition, ethnicity, target selection and organizational structure combine to explain conditions that lead terrorist groups to include or exclude civilian population for support. Based on the variance in support networks of terrorist groups, counter-terrorism policies should also differ. High civilian support indicates the need to use non-military methods to decrease the appeal of terrorist groups. However, terrorist groups with more diffused and multiple support structures need more collaborative and coercive measures to intercept all the possible links to the main group.


This manuscript is not being considered for publication anywhere else. This is an original work and there is no conflict of interest.