Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2010

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Political Science

First Advisor

Lai, Brian

Second Advisor

Mitchell, Sara McLaughlin

First Committee Member

Conybeare, John

Second Committee Member

Hensel, Paul

Third Committee Member

Vlastos, Stephen


Why do terrorists select the targets that they do? Existing explanations only provide a partial account. Here, I argue that terrorist organizations are concerned with two competing needs: that of public support and the achievement of their objectives. The interplay between these competing needs then helps to determine the selection of one of two types of targets, civilian or non-civilian. Following previous literatures, I place the terrorist organization in a bargaining interaction with a targeted government. I then condition this model by considering the role of three factors that can influence this interaction: government attributes, public support, and the group environment. I posit each to have an independent effect on targeting, conditioning which target types are prudent. These effects should also work jointly; with each conditioning the effect of the following. These factors then provide an account of terrorist targeting variation that explains why some groups eschew simplicity for symbolism


x, 250 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 227-250).


Copyright 2010 Stephen Charles Nemeth