The Roots of Islamist Armed Struggle

37 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2014

See all articles by Daniel Meierrieks

Daniel Meierrieks

WZB Berlin Social Science Center

Tim Krieger

University of Freiburg - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2014


This contribution studies the influence of poor politico-economic factors, unfavorable demographic conditions, globalization and the perceived dependency of the Islamic world from the West on the onset of armed Islamist activity (i.e., Islamist terrorism and civil wars that involve Islamist groups) for 155 countries between 1968 and 2006. Its empirical findings show that the onset of Islamist conflict is robustly associated with the discrimination of Islamic minorities, military dependence from the U.S. and the availability of a large pool of potential recruits (i.e., a large, Muslim population). The presence of large (secular and possibly predatory) governments and external cultural influences only matter to the onset of Islamist terrorism but not to broader Islamist insurgencies. Poor economic conditions and authoritarianism share no association with the onset of either Islamist terrorism or civil war that involves Islamist groups. The latter findings imply that democratic reforms and economic development — while often advocated by policymakers — are rather ineffective in preventing Islamist violence.

Keywords: Islamism, terrorism, insurgency, globalization, democracy, underdevelopment

Suggested Citation

Meierrieks, Daniel and Krieger, Tim, The Roots of Islamist Armed Struggle (2014). APSA 2014 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Daniel Meierrieks (Contact Author)

WZB Berlin Social Science Center ( email )

Berlin, D-10785

Tim Krieger

University of Freiburg - Department of Economics ( email )

University of Freiburg
Wilhelmstr. 1b
Freiburg, D-79085


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