Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

Document Type



Despite overlapping explanatory theories for the occurrence of terrorism and civil conflict, these two phenomena have largely been studied in isolation. This study addresses this gap in the conflict literature by investigating the influence of state capacity and civil conflict on the presence of a transnational terrorist organization’s base of operations. It is postulated that weak state capacity provides the opportunity to organize while civil conflict increases this opportunity via the transmission of information on and the reduction in the state’s capacity to prevent organization formation. This hypothesis is then tested by estimating a logistic regression analysis for the years 1980-2004 through the coding of the START information on Terrorist Organization Profiles. Contrary to expectations, state capacity exerts an increasingly positive influence on the presence of a transnational terrorist organization, while civil conflict only exerts a positive influence at higher intensities. Additionally, political freedom and ethnolinguistic fractionalization have a negative impact, while the contiguity of the target state to the state in which the organization is based exerts a positive and robust influence. These results suggest the need for both the opportunity to organize and the willingness to provide cover or recruits for a transnational terrorist organization to form and operate.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Sobek, David