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Spatial decision making of terrorist target selection

Marchment, Zoe; (2019) Spatial decision making of terrorist target selection. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Research consistently supports the notion that terrorists are rational actors. However, there has been a tendency to focus on distal factors associated with involvement in terrorism, and there is a distinct lack of empirical research on aspects of attack commission at the individual level. Little has been done to identify proximal factors associated with attacks. This thesis uses multiple paradigms from environmental criminology, including journey-to-crime analyses, various spatial and temporal statistics, risk terrain modelling and discrete choice modelling, to examine the target selection for two of the current national security threats to the UK: lone-actor terrorism and Northern Ireland related terrorism. Collectively, the findings indicate that target selection is guided by an inherent logic, and that terrorists are rational in their spatial decision making. The first piece of analysis demonstrates that lone-actor terrorists behave in a similar way to group terrorists and urban criminals. Their residence-to-attack journeys display a classic distance decay pattern. The second empirical chapter shows how attacks by violent dissident Republicans in the period studied were spatially and temporally clustered. The following chapter identifies differences between risk factors for bombings and bomb hoaxes, and suggests that dissident Republicans may select less ideological targets for bombings relative to bomb hoaxes. The final empirical chapter demonstrates that the locations of attacks by the Provisional Irish Republican Army were influenced by characteristics of the target areas as well as the properties of their likely journey to the target. In the concluding chapter, a new framework for target selection is presented and assessed using illustrative examples of recent attacks in the U.K. Important insights are provided that could guide and improve the efficacy of preventative and disruptive measures.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Spatial decision making of terrorist target selection
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2019. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10072782
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