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

70 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2020

See all articles by Christopher Blair

Christopher 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 to present security risks. As a consequence, for cooperation to persist when it is needed most, militant groups must have means of committing to cooperation even in the context of substantial state repression. We posit that shared ideology plays this role. Specifically, shared ideology aids cooperation by lengthening the shadow of the future, facilitating monitoring and enforcement, leveraging pre-existing authority structures, and fostering trust. We test this theory using new, comprehensive, time-series data on all relationships between militant organizations from 1950-2016, which we introduce here. Results show that when groups share an ideology, and especially a religion, they become more likely to cooperate materially as repression increases. By contrast, commitment is more difficult to sustain in rhetorical alliances. These findings help contextualize important existing research that suggests the connections between violent, non-state 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

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