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Contemporary Terrorism Studies

Contemporary Terrorism Studies (1st edn)

Diego Muro and Tim Wilson
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date: 01 April 2023

p. 21812. Target Selectionlocked

p. 21812. Target Selectionlocked

  • Alex Braithwaite
  •  and Ian Orringer


This chapter provides an overview of theoretical and empirical models of terrorist target selection. It references case studies on white nationalism in the USA, Spain, and the UK. A soft target is one which has minimally security, whereas a hard target will make use of police or an armed presence to provide security. An example of a hard target is an embassy. Empirical studies have found that terrorist attacks are most likely to occur in areas where there are higher levels of population density. Moreover, the location and timing of violent terrorist attacks are often highly symbolic and intentional and very rarely random. Terrorism, in this case, is regarded as a tool of the weak employed to help perpetrators to overcome power imbalance against a wealthier or militarily capable government.

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