Honor Among Thieves: Understanding Rhetorical and Material Cooperation Among Militant Groups

80 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2020 Last revised: 30 Sep 2020

See all articles by Christopher W. Blair

Christopher W. Blair

University of Pennsylvania

Erica Chenoweth

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Michael C. Horowitz

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science

Evan Perkoski

University of Connecticut

Philip B.K. Potter

University of Virginia - Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics

Date Written: February 26, 2020

Abstract

Cooperation among militant organizations contributes to capability but also presents security risks. This is particularly the case when organizations face substantial repression from the state. As a consequence, for cooperation to emerge and persist when it is most valuable, militant groups must have means of committing to cooperation even when the incentives to defect are high. We posit that shared ideology plays this role by providing community monitoring, authority structures, trust, and transnational networks. We test this theory using new, expansive, time-series data on relationships between militant organizations from 1950-2016, which we introduce here. The results show that when groups share an ideology, and especially religion, they are more likely to initiate material alliances. Moreover, in the face of repression from the state, shared ideology is associated with sustained cooperation. These findings contextualize and expand upon important existing research demonstrating that connections between violent, nonstate actors strongly shape their tactical and strategic behavior.

Keywords: Militant Groups, Alliances, Cooperation, Terrorism, State Repression

Suggested Citation

Blair, Christopher and Chenoweth, Erica and Horowitz, Michael C. and Perkoski, Evan and Potter, Philip B.K., Honor Among Thieves: Understanding Rhetorical and Material Cooperation Among Militant Groups (February 26, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3545006 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3545006

Christopher Blair

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Erica Chenoweth

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Michael C. Horowitz (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - Department of Political Science ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Evan Perkoski

University of Connecticut ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1024
Storrs, CT 06269-1024
United States

Philip B.K. Potter

University of Virginia - Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics ( email )

PO Box 400787
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22904
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
246
Abstract Views
1,360
rank
162,161
PlumX Metrics