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VOL. VIII, Issue 4

Alliance Hubs: Focal Points in the International Terrorist Landscape

International terrorist alliances pose a threat in that they provide opportunities for groups to bolster their operational effectiveness, range, and efficiency as well as enhance their legitimacy and stature. However, they remain rare because alliances expose partnering organizations to serious vulnerabilities, and terrorist organizations are ill-suited to forge these kinds of commitments. When alliances do occur, they tend to cluster around a small number of groups, termed alliance hubs, which demonstrate an aptitude for forging partnerships. The prevailing notion that terrorist groups with shared threats or ideologies will naturally gravitate toward hubs mischaracterizes the nature of relationships among these illicit, clandestine, and violent organizations and predicts that alliances should occur more frequently than they do, and that alliances should form where none exist. Rather than precipitating alliances, shared ideology and enemies act as identity features that guide partner selection. Hubs function as focal points by fulfilling organizational adaptation and learning needs for groups that lack self-reform capacity. This offers under-utilized opportunities to exploit and disrupt these relationships.

About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…