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Threat Perception, Policy Diffusion, and the Logic of Terrorist Group Designation



Many governments maintain lists of terrorist groups, imposing sanctions on designated organizations. However, the logic behind designation remains unclear. Furthermore, most studies focus on Western countries. This paper develops arguments for why attack attributes, group attributes, and policy diffusion might explain proscription. Empirically, we examine hundreds of militant organizations to see which are listed by the European Union, India, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, or the United States. Generally, designation does not seem to be driven by target or attack severity. It often results from diffusion: most countries follow the United States. Islamist group motivation is also an important factor.
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Studies in Conflict & Terrorism
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Threat Perception, Policy Diffusion, and the Logic
of Terrorist Group Designation
Mirna El Masri & Brian J. Phillips
To cite this article: Mirna El Masri & Brian J. Phillips (2021): Threat Perception, Policy
Diffusion, and the Logic of Terrorist Group Designation, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, DOI:
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Published online: 13 Dec 2021.
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Threat Perception, Policy Diffusion, and the Logic
of Terrorist Group Designation
Mirna El Masria,b and Brian J. Phillipsc,d
aSchool of Social Sciences, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany; bGerman Institute for Global
and Area Studies (GIGA), Hamburg, Germany; cDepartment of Government, University of Essex,
Colchester, United Kingdom; dCenter for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), Mexico City,
Many governments maintain lists of terrorist groups, imposing sanc-
tions on designated organizations. However, the logic behind desig-
nation remains unclear. Furthermore, most studies focus on Western
countries. This paper develops arguments for why attack attributes,
group attributes, and policy diffusion might explain proscription.
Empirically, we examine hundreds of militant organizations to see
which are listed by the European Union, India, Pakistan, Russia, the
United Kingdom, or the United States. Generally, designation does
not seem to be driven by target or attack severity. It often results
from diffusion: most countries follow the United States. Islamist group
motivation is also an important factor.
Governments around the world have implemented so-called terrorist designation lists,
which label groups as terrorists for counter-terrorism purposes. However, there is no
consensus about the designated organizations, and lists vary considerably. Even though
the popularity of designation lists is growing,1 the “terrorist” label is highly debated
and ambiguous, not only among governments and policymakers, but also among aca-
demics.2 Designation, also called proscription, is important to understand because
governments expend resources putting groups on lists to “name and shame” them,
and subject them to formal sanctions. There is growing evidence that the lists have
serious consequences – intended and unintended.3 Less is known about why some
groups end up designated as terrorists, while others do not. This is a substantial gap
in the literature, since designation apparently has important effects.
Most studies of terrorist group designation analyze Western countries, such as the
United States, the United Kingdom, or the European Union.4 Focusing only on deter-
minants affecting the designation of terrorist groups by Western governments restricts
the studies to Western threat perceptions. Other types of countries have created terrorist
lists, but it remains unclear if the logic of listing differs for these countries compared
to the often-studied Western states. Moreover, the one study to explicitly compare
terrorist lists and their determinants quantitatively includes a limited number of mea-
sures of terrorist group attributes, and only examined groups through 2008.5
© 2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
CONTACT Brian J. Phillips Department of Government, University of Essex, Colchester,
United Kingdom; Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), Mexico City, Mexico
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License
(, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Received 8 April 2021
Accepted 17 November 2021
What determines the designation of organizations as terrorists? Drawing on insights
of previous studies on the designation, as well as research on militant groups and
counterterrorism, we contribute to the literature by considering several theoretical
explanations that potentially lead to designation. Empirically, we focus not only on
the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, but also on several
non-Western governments: Russia, Pakistan, and India.6 Therefore, we conduct the
most comprehensive quantitative analysis of terrorist group lists. Moreover, we look
at the quality of attacks as opposed to only the quantity of attacks, and take into
consideration that one state’s designation decisions might affect other states’ decisions.
In what follows, we first define “terrorist groups” and “designation” and review
existing studies on the determinants of designation. In the next section, we argue that
the designation of terrorist groups is not only affected by the perceived threat of the
organization, in terms of the severity of attack methods and target types, but also by
U.S.-led policy diffusion and Islamist ideology. After developing our arguments, we
test them empirically in the fourth section with longitudinal data on hundreds terrorist
groups from 1970 to 2016. In this analysis, we do not only examine designated groups,
but also the broader universe of potentially listable groups.
We find that even though governments claim that threats are the primary purpose
of their designation mechanism, terrorist designation is not primarily driven by target
or attack method severity. Even suicide attacks are not robustly associated with pro-
scription. In contrast, the analysis demonstrates that there is some diffusion among
Western governments, providing support for the argument of U.S. policy diffusion.
There is evidence of several states influencing designation by others, but the U.S. list
is the most influential. Moreover, we find that Islamist groups are especially likely to
be designated, even after we control for many other group attributes. We conclude
with a discussion of the implications of the findings and directions for future research.
Literature: Designation in a Global Perspective
A growing line of research looks at terrorist designation or proscription. Much of the
work looks at consequences of designation, such as whether it achieves the desired
goals of reducing terrorism or otherwise constraining violent groups. Several studies
find that listing seems to reduce the terrorism of only specific kinds of groups, such
as those that are younger,7 those that depend on donations,8 or those that operate in
U.S.-allied countries.9 Some research also looks at unintended consequences of desig-
nation, such as limiting freedom of expression or organization, obstructing peace
processes, or hindering economic development.10 However, to fully understand pro-
scription and its effects, it is important to understand why some groups get listed at
all. In this section we discuss the concepts of terrorist groups and designation, and
in the following sub-section we review some of the research on how terrorist group
lists are constructed.
Debates continue about the definition of “terrorist groups,11 and to what extent
terrorism is distinct from other forms of political violence. Many analysts use an
inclusive definition, stating for example that a terrorist group is a “subnational political
organization that uses terrorism.12 We adopt this definition as well. Other authors
specify that terrorist groups are organizations that primarily use terrorism, or that they
do not hold territory, or that primarily target civilians.13 For the purpose of this paper,
we refer to the first definition because it is a broad enough understanding to include
the many groups likely to be designated by governments. It is a definition used implic-
itly or explicitly by a variety of studies.14 Additionally, governments seem to use such
a notion of “terrorist groups,” as they do not limit their lists to sub-categories of
groups such as those that that do not hold territory.
A designation demonstrates a legal procedure in which the support or the existence
of identified organizations or individuals is being constrained by authoritative actors,
such as governments.15 Governments designate an organization if they believe it uses
terrorism and is a significant threat to the state or its interests. While a designation
itself serves as a signal of the negation of a group, it also seeks to restrain extremist
activities.16 The suppression of groups results in the application of criminal offenses,
such as the constraint of support for listed groups and/or the criminalization of a
participation in a specific group, and is thus the political embodiment of blacklisting.17
The terms proscribing, listing, blacklisting, outlawing, and banning orders are regularly
used as synonyms.18 Despite being employed widely, terrorism designation is highly
inconsistent across the globe.
Research on the Designation Process
Some relevant literature on terrorist group designation is the work on designation
effectiveness.19 Other work looks at the process behind how specifically a government
designates a group.20 While helpful for understanding aspects of proscription, this
research does not explain general patterns internationally in designation. This, most
likely, is due to fact that attempts to designate identified terrorist organizations are
limited to post-9/11 counterterrorism mechanisms21 and, despite that, inconsistently
applied across the globe. Moreover, designation-capabilities deserve more attention
given that their effectiveness and importance in the fight against terrorism continues
to be debated.22
Some research draws attention on current designating governments which are
impacted by conflicts of the twentieth century, focusing on the United Kingdom in
particular.23 Other research examines how designation-efforts represent a vague process
of decision-making and are generally based on superficial assumptions which end up
in entailing violations of human rights.24 Following that, narratives around violations
of human rights are demonstrated by scholars who analyzed the designation process
of Canada and Australia respectively.25 Their findings examine extremist narratives of
Western anti-Muslim racism, in which Muslim communities are unfairly targeted within
contemporary counterterrorism initiatives and that designation is “indiscriminately
aimed at Muslims rather than violence.26 This idea is consistent with findings by Beck
and Miner, who analyze factors influencing the designation of groups by three Western
designating governments: the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European
Union.27 As for Western narratives in the designation process, Nadarajah emphasizes
how the consideration of only Western designating countries might restrict determi-
nants of factors influencing a designation to common Western “liberal peace logics.28
This might restrict the determinants to common Western designation factors and thus
undermine other possible aspects influencing a designation. Additionally, it has been
argued that the U.S. list in particular is based in part on political factors, for example
the desire to appease foreign allies, instead of solely concerns about threats a group
might pose to the United States.29
Western countries have been influential in the creation of terrorist lists, and the
diffusion of these ideas to other countries. Stampnitzky argues that the modern under-
standing of “terrorism” was created by a small number of experts and officials in the
1970s, mostly in the United States.30 This is in part because the West at that time was
being targeted by airline hijackings, attacks at the Olympics, and other high-profile
violence that came to be understood as terrorism. Western countries were among the
first of this era to develop proscription regimes, sometimes repeating proscription
practices they had used as colonial powers early in the twentieth century.31 As a result,
Western policies are important to understand, even if the idea of terrorism proscription
is now a global phenomenon.
Beyond arguments specific to the West, others draw upon more general ideas about
domestic politics or traditional international relations. Politicization happens in a
variety of countries.32 Designating governments reflect how states construct specific
entities as “security threats in order to allow the state institutions to exercise their
sovereign power to carry out extraordinary measures.33 Other research explores how
the designation of a terrorist group is affected by symbols by the powerful and manip-
ulation of language,34 and how governments might copy one another’s designation
lists.35 Hence, a designation is a political and symbolic act, as well as an act of secu-
ritization, in which the designation of a terrorist organization might be influenced by
the connection between a country and the international community.36
Some previous studies of terrorist group lists consider these factors, but usually only
focusing on one single designating government.37 Other studies examine multiple gov-
ernments and explore factors like the quantity of attacks of militant groups, but do not
consider the quality of attacks.38 Additional shortcomings in the literature, as noted
above, include overlooking designation in non-Western countries, with few exceptions.
Given that governmental designation lists are inconsistently applied across the globe,
the question about what makes a government designate organizations as terrorists and
why remains open. The following section seeks to address this by presenting five
hypotheses that suggest: (1) the target types of terrorist groups influence a govern-
mental designation, and (2) the attack method influences the likelihood of being
designated. However, targets and attacks do not exist in vacuum. We also argue that
(3) the United States influences designation decision of other states, (4) Islamist group
ideology is associated with prescription, and (5) affiliates of al-Qaeda or Islamic State
are especially likely to be designated.
On Threat Perception and U.S. Policy Diusion
States are likely to designate an organization as a terrorist group if they perceive threats
from the organization in question. This section presents theoretical pathways linking
attack and target types, policy diffusion, and Islamist ideology to terrorist proscription.
Before doing so, we draw on Beck and Miner’s logic of legal classifications of terrorism
and the construction of perceived threat and deviance. Legal classifications of terrorism
stem from a state’s interpretation of events and their presumed causes,39 as well as the
“actual assessment of danger”.40 Interestingly, all six governmental designation lists have
one thing in common in their regulations about designating terrorists: they all desig-
nate groups if they perceive threats from the organization in question. Our assertion
is thus that the designation of terrorists is caused by a states perceived threat of an
organization, where specific attack methods and target types of groups are more likely
to be seen as a threat than others.
Beck and Miner also suggest that governments’ notions of terrorism are affected by
other actors, such as the media and other governments.41 A court decision by E.U.
leaders in 2006 to designate the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), for instance,
had been based on “imputations derived from the press and the Internet” rather than
on direct investigation of the organization’s actions.42 Conrad and Greene argue that
terrorist organizations receive short-term benefits from the use of innovative attack
types and by attacking more severe targets, given that these will influence the media,
and ultimately, the general public and government.43
Furthermore, terrorist attacks need to pass an “emotional threshold” for the media
to cover the event, and since homicide – in particular, one caused by a terrorist attack
– is a relatively rare event, it is generally “newsworthy.44 The same logic can be applied
to the designation process of terrorists. Terrorist organizations need to pass an emo-
tional threshold by employing severe attack methods and targeting more shocking
targets in order to influence governments’ perceptions and thus a designation. There
is wide variation in the severity of terrorist attacks. Some attacks have greater psy-
chological impacts, garner greater media coverage, and are likely to influence a wider
audience than others. Similarly, research on the consequences of terrorism finds that
more severe events yield a much stronger impact than less severe events.45 Lemyre
et al. find that with terrorism, perceptions of a threat itself can lead to adverse effects
on psychological well-being, the economy, or political decision making.46
In a nutshell, threats do indeed affect public concern and ultimately have an impact
on political decision making in the form of designating groups as terrorists. Moreover,
given that severe threats achieve a greater impact than less severe threats, it is more
likely for organizations employing severe threats to be designated as terrorists by
governments. We follow Conrad and Greene who suggest that severity of terrorism
can be determined by the targets as well as the tactics of the organization in question.47
We discuss the two categories in turn and consider implications for designation.
Designation as a Result of Target Types
Chermak and Gruenewald describe an “emotional threshold” that must be crossed by
terrorist violence in order for it to gain substantial media coverage.48 Similarly, it seems
likely that terrorist organizations need to pass such a threshold to draw the attention
of governments, perhaps leading to a designation.49 Attacking especially “shocking”
targets can make violence especially terrifying. Several existing studies point out that
targets are salient markers of terrorism.50 This section develops the logic underlying
the claim that highly severe or “shocking” target types affect the likelihood of an
organization being designated as a terrorist.
Existing studies suggest that terrorist attacks against civilians,51 nongovernmental
organizations (NGOs), and the media demonstrate the most extreme or severe level of
terrorist target choice.52 However, attacks on civilians are “much more costly than attacks
on official targets in terms of loss of popular support and legitimacy”,53 which makes
them more likely to lead to a designation. For example, the United States designated
Boko Haram, as well as its offshoot Ansaru, as terrorist organizations in November 2013,
due to “thousands of deaths in the northeast and central Nigeria over the last several
years including targeted killings of civilians.54 Analogously, the United States designated
Hamas after it conducted several attacks against Israeli civilians in the 1990s.55 We t hus
argue that targeting civilians demonstrates the highest severity level, given that attacks
against these targets are very costly and generate a possible backlash effect.
Polo notes that different types of targets carry a different “valence” for both ter-
rorists as well as their audience.56 Consistent with this, Conrad and Greene argue that
attacks against governmental targets and infrastructure demonstrate that terrorists do
actually have the capability to impose costs on the government, but choose to generally
minimize the chances of harming civilians to avoid a potential backlash effect.57
Moreover, governmental targets such as the police or the military, as well as key
infrastructures are often perceived as more “legitimate” targets. Hence, targeting gov-
ernmental officials is less severe than targeting civilians. At a lower level of severity,
damaging utilities such as oil pipelines and power lines is disruptive for the govern-
ment, but not as shocking as other types of targets. A possible backlash effect, asso-
ciated with the targeting of civilians or other more sensitive target types, is avoided.
Attacks on less-severe targets such as pipelines should be less likely to cause a group
to be blacklisted by a government. In sum, we thus argue that the severer the target,
which is attacked by a terrorist organization, the higher the likelihood of designating
the organization in question. This suggests the following hypothesis:
H1: An organization that attacks more severe targets is more likely to be designated as
a terrorist group.
Designation as a Result of Attack Methods
Beyond target types, there are specific categories of Attack methods that are likely to
signal their perpetrators as especially threatening. While research on terrorism has
tended to focus on the quantity of attacks, others distinguish between the quantity
and the quality of attack methods and highlight the importance of the severity of such
methods.58 This section illustrates how highly severe or “shocking” attack methods
bear a higher possibility of influencing a designation.
Conrad and Greene argue that simply increasing the amount of violence is not the
only (or even a useful) way to distinguish an organizations threat.59 They demonstrate
that raw counts of the number of terrorist attacks do not capture the fact that the
quality of the attacks in terms of severity varies widely. We can similarly expect dif-
ferent severity levels when considering the quality and thus the different methods of
attacks terrorists use. Given that terrorists consider the “shock value” of not only their
targets but also their attack methods, it is reasonable to believe that a high “shock
value” may be one way to influence a designation.
Some studies that have considered the severity of attack methods have focused
almost exclusively on the use of suicide terrorism.60 Bloom argues that one reason
suicide terrorism is so shocking is that it “eras[es] the imagined barriers between
combatants and non-combatants, terrorists and innocent civilians.61 This severe method
gets groups noticed and designated as terrorists. For instance, the leftist Revolutionary
Peoples Liberation Front (DHKP/C) in Turkey has repeatedly used suicide attacks and
is designated as a terrorist organization by multiple countries. As Beck and Miner
point out, other comparable groups using terrorism in the region, such as the National
Liberation Front of Corsica, remain un-designated.62
Beyond suicide attacks, bombings in general are seen as extreme or severe attack
methods.63 In some ways, bombings represent an ideal type of terrorism. One scholar
argues that bombings are the “most likely terrorist method of inflicting mass casual-
ties.64 Bombings can reach a scale of injuring or killing a high number of civilian
targets, such as the 1998 car bombing of the U.S. embassy in Nairobi, which killed
hundreds of civilians and injured over 4,000.65 As a result, suicide attacks and bomb-
ings are considered at the highest severity level, since they have the capacity for great
lethality, and are more indiscriminate compared to other attack methods.
Other attack types, such as hijacking, are less severe. Even though some scholars
note that hijacking and hostage takings draw considerable media coverage,66 other
literature suggests that the most-covered terrorist events are those resulting in actual
death or injury of the targets.67 Moreover, many kidnappings are not covered by the
news, and are frequently resolved in private instead.68 As previously argued, attacks
against infrastructure can be considered at the lowest severity-level. This is comparable
to other attack types, such as unarmed assaults. It seems reasonable that attacks on
the lower end of the severity scale would be less likely to cause a group to be desig-
nated as a terrorist organization. Overall, this leads to the following hypothesis:
H2: An organization that uses highly severe attack methods is more likely to be desig-
nated as a terrorist group.
Designation as a Result of U.S. Policy Diusion
Policy choices of one country are often shaped by the previous choices of others.
Scholars have shown that the adoption of policies has varied as anti-money-laundering
rules to renewable energy use occurs through diffusion.69 Policy diffusion can happen
through a number of different mechanisms, including benign or positive processes like
learning.70 Some countries express their general desire to cooperate on counterterror-
ism, such as the U.K. Home Office stating among its proscription criteria “the need
to support other members of the international community in the global fight against
terrorism.71 Another common explanation for policy diffusion focuses on a less benev-
olent mechanism: coercion. Coercion can be performed by governments as they manip-
ulate economic costs and benefits, use physical force, or the monopolize information.72
In the case of terrorism designation, the preferences of the United States, for instance,
may shape the policies in countries reliant on its foreign direct investment, aid, or
security by offering more of these, or threatening to withhold.
Coercion also operates through another mechanism: hegemony. Dominant govern-
ments (hegemons), such as the United States, can influence the policy of other countries
without exerting physical force or directly changing costs or benefits.73 The event of
9/11 and the American War on Terror, for example, is not only credited to be a cover
for global strategic interests and preserving the U.S. hegemony,74 but has also marked
a transformation in the international designation process, as the United Nations urged
member states in Security Council Resolution 1373 to implement counterterrorism
measures.75 This event marks an important time in the history of designation, given
that several U.S.-allied governments followed the U.S. designation mechanism and
established their own designation lists shortly afterwards.76 In turn, we argue, the U.S.
designation of an organization as a terrorist influences the designation processes of
other countries. Such behavior is especially likely for countries already following the
U.S. foreign policy on counterterrorism.77 This could be at least in part because inter-
national cooperation is essential for a designation to have meaningful consequences.78
However, generally, most countries should be likely to follow the United States in its
designation decisions due to its status as a global power and arguably the hegemon.79
This is consistent with qualitative research concluding that the United States is a
“trendsetter” regarding proscription.80
Sometimes the United States directly advocates for other states to follow its terrorist
designation patterns. The U.S. State Department, on the FTO web-page, indicates that
it hopes listing “signals to other governments our concern about named organizations.81
More directly, some U.S. officials have lobbied the European Union to list Hezbollah
as a terrorist organization.82 U.S. lobbying has led to the proscription of various groups.
For example, the United States proscribed the Tamil Tigers in 1997, but Canada resisted
until 2006.83 U.S. pressure was “critical” for encouraging Canada to eventually list the
group.84 Overall, through various mechanisms, U.S. listing decisions are likely to affect
the subsequent listing decisions of other governments.
Hence, the third hypothesis is as follows:
H3: An organization that has been designated as a terrorist group by the United States is
more likely to be designated as such by other governments in subsequent years.
Designating Islamist Groups
Several allied governments followed the U.S. designation process by implementing their
own designation lists shortly afterwards. The U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO)
list contains a large number of groups which claim an Islamist ideology. This is due
to the event of 9/11 and the subsequent U.S. War on Terror, but most broadly due to
the “fourth wave” of religious terrorism which replaced the “third wave” of leftist
attacks that had peaked the Cold War.85 Moreover, while leftist terrorism in the third
wave was mainly of a Marxist ideology, in which a national liberation framework was
used to make appeals to the middle and lower classes, “Islamist terrorism is seen as
making a broader multi-class appeals, using more lethal tactics justified in religious
terms, and is more organizationally consolidated.86 Given that many governments
established their designation lists around the beginning of the fourth wave of terrorism,
we argue that an Islamist ideology influences the listing process of designating gov-
ernments. This ideology is considered to be a higher threat to Western society than
leftist or ethnonationalist motivations. For example, the United States designated the
Islamist group Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi (JRTN) as a terrorist group on the
FTO list in 2015. However, the similarly active group which also targets civilians, the
United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), remains undesignated by the United
States. Thus:
H4: An organization with an Islamist ideology is more likely to be designated as a ter-
rorist group.
While an Islamist ideology generally is likely to earn a militant group proscription,
much of the Islamist violence affecting countries with terrorist lists comes from specific
networks. Al-Qaida perpetrated out the massive Sept. 11, 2001, attack, which in many
ways spurred the modern terrorism-sanctioning regime. The organization and its
affiliates continued to launch major attacks around the world. In the 2010s, the so-called
Islamic State developed its own network of affiliates, which were seen as substantial
threats by many countries. As a result, we argue that any group affiliated with either
al-Qaida or the Islamic State should be seen as especially threatening, and therefore
more likely than even other Islamist groups to be added to a “terrorist” list.
H5: An organization aliated with either al-Qaida or the Islamic State is more likely to
be designated as a terrorist group.
Data and Research Design
The analysis uses two primary data sources to assess the hypotheses: the Extended
Data on Terrorist Groups (EDTG) and the Global Terrorism Database (GTD).87 We
use these two data sources because they are, to our knowledge, the most comprehensive
publicly available data sources on militant groups that use terrorism, and terrorist
attacks, respectively.88 The EDTG already includes some GTD-based variables, but we
bring in additional information from the GTD for our attack severity and attack
methods variables. The unit of analysis is group-year, and the data includes 566 mil-
itant organizations for the period 1970-2016. Models have fewer groups, between 272
and 470, due to missing information on some variables and the years examined in
each analysis. We combined this group-year data with data from six countries’ terrorist
group lists, as discussed below. The main variables for analyzing the above hypotheses
are measures of designation status as the dependent variable, along with many inde-
pendent variables.
Dependent Variables: Terrorist Designation
To measure terrorist designation, we compile proscription information from six lists:
the primary terrorist lists of the United States, the United Kingdom, the European
Union, Russia, Pakistan, and India. We choose this sample to have a mix of Western
and non-Western countries. It includes the three Western lists included in Beck and
Miner’s path-breaking study – the first systematic comparative study of more than two
lists – and adds three prominent non-Western countries that make interesting contrasts.
Europe is over-represented, as are democratic countries. However, it is difficult to get
reliable information on the lists of non-democratic countries, especially on how the
lists have changed over time. Future research would benefit from analyzing additional
lists, but this sample is larger than most analyses of terrorist lists to date, and we
think it is an interesting mix of types of states from various regions.
There is a global divergence around which organizations are “terrorist groups.” The
Appendix provides a more detailed explanation. This divergence can be even observed
among allied countries with extensive records of cooperation regarding counterterrorism
and beyond. Here, the United States holds the most prominent designation list, the FTO
List, which has its origins in 1997 and currently contains 69 organizations.89 However,
the U.S. designation list differs from the lists of other governments by only designating
foreign terrorist groups. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom presently includes 96 domestic
and international organizations on its list, established by the Home Secretary in 2001.90
The European Union designates terrorists as part of its response against terrorism after
the attacks of 11 September 2001 under two separate lists: 1. one list including all
non-E.U. persons and entities with currently 21 designated groups,91 2. the other list
including all E.U. (and non-E.U.) persons and entities.92 As for the following analysis,
we use the second list which includes all E.U. and non-E.U. entities.93 Currently, 47
groups are designated on their list, following the UNSC resolution 1373.94
As for non-Western designating governments, Russia officially designates groups as
terrorists since 2003 on their Federal United list of Terrorist Organizations, with cur-
rently 31 organizations designated by the National Anti-Terrorism Committee.95 In
Pakistan, the Ministry of Interior has designated organizations as terrorists since 1997,
and currently lists 73 organizations.96 Indias Ministry of Home Affairs has a designa-
tion list under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which originated in 1963 and
currently designated 40 organizations.97 Overall, there are some similarities in the
process of designation. The listing governments have similar definitions of terrorism
and mostly have similar purposes of the designation lists.
We match our data on militant groups to the six national terrorist lists to create
six dichotomous dependent variables measuring whether a group appeared on each
list during the particular year. Each group is coded “1” for years they are designated,
and “0” for all other years. Not all listed organizations appear in the EDTG and GTD,
some appear under multiple names, and ending the sample in 2016 excludes some
designated terrorist groups.98 Moreover, removing cases with missing data to maintain
comparability across the samples results in the following number of designated terrorist
groups included in our analysis: 71 groups on the U.S. list; 58 groups on the U.K.
list; 33 groups on the E.U. list; 19 groups on the Russian list; 33 groups on the
Pakistani list; and 36 groups on the Indian list. These lists of course overlap – many
groups are on multiple lists. Additionally, these are total numbers, including groups
that were later de-listed.
With the measures of each country’s list, we make our primary dependent variables:
All countries and Any countries. All countries is an additive ordinal dependent variable
(0-6), which is the total number of countries designating a group. Any country is a
dichotomous variable coded “1” if the group appears on any country’s list that year.
These are our primary dependent variables because we are interested in designation
overall – by either more countries, or by any country – instead of the designation
patterns of one single country. These dependent variables allow us to draw inferences
about patterns across these various and distinct states.
In addition to models with All countries and Any country, we include models where
the dependent variable is designation by one of the six designators. This is necessary
to test Hypothesis 3, about policy diffusion across countries. It also will illuminate
differences across the designation patterns of different countries, as they are likely to
have distinct priorities when designating groups as terrorists.
Key Explanatory Variables
To assess whether the severity of target selection and attack methods affects the des-
ignation of groups as terrorists, we follow the coding scheme of Conrad and Greene,
in which a set of ordinal measures is proposed to capture the severity level or “shock
value” of terrorist attacks. This results in two ordinal independent variables, Tar get
type and Attack method.
Regarding Target type used to measure Hypothesis 1, the GTD identifies 22 target
categories. Conrad and Green classify attacks as low, medium, or high severity. Target
type is coded “1” if the attack is against infrastructure targets, such as transportation,
telecommunications, airports, food or water sources, or maritime infrastructure. The
next level of severity is captured by a variable equaling “2” if an attack is against
governmental personal, police, military, violent political parties, or other terrorists.
The highest level of severity is “3” and includes attacks against all civilian targets,
including tourists, private citizens, NGOs, the media, private businesses, and educational
personal. These targets are more likely to be “shocking.” Groups that did not carry
out any attacks in the year are coded as “0”.99
Regarding Hypothesis 2, about attack methods, the GTD categorizes eight types of
attacks according to the method used. We again follow Conrad and Greenes coding
scheme to organize these methods into three ordinal categories, creating Attack method.
The lowest value equals “1” in attacks in categorized by an absence of human injury
or low levels of violence. These include unarmed assaults and attacks against infra-
structure. If the attacks involve hijackings or hostage takings, they are attack severity
level “2”. These are attacks which pose a threat to human life but are probably not
considered as extreme as those at the next level. The highest severity-level is “3” and
includes armed assaults, assassinations, and bombings. Group-years with no attacks
that year are coded as “0”. As Conrad and Greene note, the creation of this scale
involves subjective decision making, but they seem like a reasonable way to rank
terrorist attacks into theoretically relevant categories.100
As a complementary measure, we also include a dichotomous variable called Suicide
attack, coded “1” if the group has a suicide attack attributed to it in the GTD during
the year being analyzed.101 Suicide attacks are one of the most-analyzed and heinous
types of terrorism. Including this measure will help us understand if groups might
get designated for especially brutal attack varieties, instead of an increase in attack
severity – for example from not severe to moderately severe – which is what the
Attack method variable might indicate. Between 5 and 9 percent of the group-years
are coded “1” for Suicide attack, depending on the sample used.
To capture Hypothesis 3, about U.S. policy diffusion, we use Prior [State] designation
as a dichotomous variable for each government. This variable shows whether an
organization has been listed in the previous year of designation (or 2016 if unlisted)
by the other five governments considered. Thus, it captures if the designation of some
governments is associated with the designation by other governments. We will have
all in all six dichotomous variables, one for each government, coding whether an
organization has been listed in the previous year (“1”) or not (“0”). Given Hypothesis
3, our primary focus is on U.S. policy diffusion.
To code the Islamist ideology for Hypothesis 4, we started with the dummy variable
Religious from the EDTG dataset capturing whether a group is a religious fundamen-
talist group or not. With this, we create a new variable, called Islamist by coding all
included Islamist groups manually as “1” and non-Islamist groups as “0”. Apart from
the group name itself, sources used for coding include mainly the Terrorism Research
& Analysis Consortium (TRAC) and the Mapping Militants Project.102 For Hypothesis 5,
we gather data on groups that pledged allegiance to either al-Qaida or the Islamic
State. This information came from sources such as the Mapping Militants Project and
the Long War Journal.
Control Variables: Measurements for Countries Targeted, Attacks, and Victims
Six dichotomous variables, Attacked [State], capture whether an organization has
attacked in the country of the respective designating government that year, according
to the GTD. This variable is included because it seems likely that governments would
designates group that have attacked in their country. One exception is Attacked U.S.,
which is likely to be negatively related to designation, since this country is the only
one of the six that does not attack domestic organizations.
The designation of a terrorist organization might also depend on the number of
attacks an organization caused. The variable Total attacks is taken from the EDTG
dataset and indicates the number of total attacks that a terrorist group launched in a
given year.103 We compile the cumulative number of casualties by each organization
from 1970 through the year of formal designation, up until listing or the year 2016
if unlisted. The variable Total deaths (log) is also taken from the EDTG dataset and
captures the total number of deaths attributed to the group in a given year. We take
a natural logarithm because of the extreme scale of the variable.104 We also include
one other attack-related variable. Aviation target is taken from the GTD and captures
whether an organization employs aviation attacks or not. We include this because Beck
and Miner find it to be an important predictor of terrorism designation by the United
Finally, we include Group age and Group size, which come from the EDTG. The
perseverance and strength of a terrorist group is measured by the group size as well
as the age of an organization. We include these variables because it is likely that a
stronger terrorist group poses a bigger threat and is thus more likely to get designated.
Model Specication
For models with the count dependent variable All countries, we use an ordinal logit,
due to the count nature of the dependent variable. For all other models, we use logistic
regression due to the dichotomous nature of the dependent variables. Standard errors
are clustered on the terrorist group. We first analyze the dependent variables All
countries and Any country to see the factors associated with a group being designated
by multiple states or any state. After this, we analyze the country lists one at a time
to see how correlates of U.S. designation, for example, compare to the correlates of
designation by other countries.
Empirical Analysis and Discussion
Table 1 shows the analysis with the dependent variables All countries and Any country.
These dependent variables allow us to illustrate which factors are associated with a
group being designated by a higher number of countries (All countries), or a group
being designated by any of the five states or the European Union (Any country). Models
1 and 3 look at all years available, 1970-2016, to include as much information as pos-
sible and help understand general trends. Models 2 and 4 only examine 2003-2016,
since 2003 is the first year that all designation lists being analyzed existed. In most of
the models, results are similar. Target Type is statistically insignificant in all models.
Attack method is statistically insignificant in Models 1 and 3, and only marginally sig-
nificant (90% level) in Models 2 and 4. This suggests no support for Hypothesis 1, and
little for Hypothesis 2.
Suicide attack is statistically significant and positively signed in Models 1 and 3,
suggesting that groups that carry out suicide attacks in a year are more likely to be
designated a “terrorist group” by more countries (Model 1) than groups that did not
use suicide attacks, or more likely to be designated by any country (Models 3). Suicide
attack is also marginally significant in Model 4. These results suggest some support
for Hypothesis 2, but only in the extreme case of suicide terrorism.
Islamist is statistically significant and positively signed in all models of Table 1,
suggesting that groups with Islamist ideologies are more likely to appear on more
terrorist group lists than groups with other kinds of ideologies. This suggests support
for Hypothesis 4. AQ affiliate and IS affiliate are also robustly significant and positively
signed in all models. This suggests groups in either global network are more likely to
appear on terrorist lists, consistent with Hypothesis 5. It is noteworthy that the Islamist
variable remains significant in the presence of these two measures. Even after taking
into consideration the al-Qaeda and IS networks, a group with an Islamist ideology
is more likely than a non-Islamist group to be proscribed as a terrorist group.
Regarding control variables, results are largely in line with expectations. The coef-
ficients on Attacked U.S. are consistently negatively signed and statistically significant.
This makes sense because the United States only designates foreign groups as terrorists,
and such groups are less likely to have attacked in the United States. Other countries
are also unlikely to designate groups that attack in the United States, since those are
mostly U.S. domestic organizations, unlikely to threaten other countries. Attacked U.K.
and Attacked India are significant and positive in all models, suggesting groups that
attack these countries are likely to be designated by more countries (Models 1 and 2)
or any country (Models 3 and 4) than groups that do not. The measure of attacking
in Pakistan is similarly positively signed, but not as robustly significant. Attacked E.U.
is statistically significant in the two post-2002 models.
Interestingly, only attacking in Russia is not associated with terrorist designation
by this set of countries. This could be because Russia has fewer ties to the other
countries, so when it is attacked, they do not respond with designation. This is con-
sistent with the analysis of Ilbiz and Curtis, who argue that Russia is relatively “inde-
pendent” with its proscription patterns.106
Of the control variables based on group attributes, only Group age is consistently
associated with terrorist designation by more countries, or any countries. This is con-
sistent with expectations. Older groups get designated by more countries or are more
likely to get designated by any country.
The non-results for some control variables are noteworthy. Total deaths (log) is
significant in Models 2 and 4, but insignificant in Model 1 and marginally significant
in Model 3. It is remarkable that fatalities are not robustly associated with group
proscription. This is somewhat comparable to the lack of results for Hypothesis 1 and
Hypothesis 2. Designation is not based (only) on organizational violence. Another
perhaps surprising finding is that Aviation target is only statistically significant in one
model, Model 4. Beck and Miner had found this variable to be associated with U.S.
designation, but we do not find a consistent relationship with designation by multiple
countries here.107 Group size is never statistically significant. Apparently, a larger group
membership is not associated with terrorist designation by these countries.
Table 2 shows the models of country-specific lists. One main conclusion that can
be drawn is that there is a great deal of heterogeneity across these lists. There is no
single independent variable that is statistically significant across all six lists. Regarding
hypothesized relationships, Target type is only statistically significant in the Pakistan
model. Groups are more likely to be proscribed by Pakistan if they attack civilian
targets. The insignificance in other models suggests a lack of support for Hypothesis
1. Attack method is only statistically significant in Model 7, for the E.U. list. Groups
are more likely to be designated a terrorist group by the European Union if their
attacks were of a “severe” type like bombings, as opposed to less severe methods such
as unarmed assaults. Regarding our alternate measure of severity, suicide attacks, this
is statistically significant and positively signed in the model for the U.S. list. Groups
that carry out suicide attacks are more likely to appear on the U.S. list. There is some
support for Hypothesis 1 and Hypothesis 2 on particular country lists, but not generally.
The most robust finding in Table 2 is that of Prior U.S. listing, which is statistically
significant in the models of the U.K., E.U., Russian, and Pakistani lists. A group is
more likely to be designated as a terrorist group by these four states (or, three states
and the European Union) if it previously had been designated by the United States.
This suggests substantial support for Hypothesis 3. The findings for Russia and Pakistan
are especially noteworthy, given the historical and cultural differences between these
two countries and the United States. (The Pakistani finding is probably more under-
standable because the U.S.-Pakistani partnership in counterterrorism. But the partner-
ship has been complicated.108) The only country list where previous U.S. designation
does not seem to be influential is that of India. This is discussed more below.
Regarding possible policy diffusion effects of other countries, there are substantial
correlations among the U.S., U.K., and E.U. lists. This makes sense because of the
historic closeness among these countries, including on strategic matters. The variable
Prior Russia listing is not significant in any of the models, suggesting Russias desig-
nations are not influential for the other countries. This is intuitive given the relative
isolation of Russia compared to these states. Prior Pakistan listing is significant for
both the U.S. and U.K. lists, which is likely due to cooperation between Pakistan and
the United States in particular. This connection is probably also related to groups
operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Interestingly, Prior India listing is only statistically significant in the Pakistani list
model. This suggests that when a group is designated by India, it is likely to be des-
ignated by Pakistan in the following year. This order of designation is likely because
sometimes a Pakistan-based group attacks India (which then designates it), and Pakistan
only lists it later because of U.S. pressure to do so. It is remarkable that the relation-
ship does not work both ways – Indian designation does not seem to be explained
by prior Pakistani designation (see Model 10).
Table 1. Models of terrorist group designation, by up to six possible designators.
Model 1
All years, count DV
All Countries
Model 2
count DV All Countries
Model 3
All years,
dummy DV Any Country
Model 4
dummy DV Any Country
Target type 0.100 −0.058 0.107 −0.095
(0.100) (0.114) (0.105) (0.135)
Attack method 0.145 0.217* 0.147 0.223*
(0.109) (0.113) (0.115) (0.129)
Suicide attack 1.593*** 0.597 1.837*** 0.690*
(0.321) (0.367) (0.329) (0.372)
Islamist 0.963*** 1.095*** 0.859*** 1.001***
(0.319) (0.369) (0.323) (0.379)
AQ aliate 2.372*** 1.471** 3.616*** 2.248***
(0.575) (0.675) (0.598) (0.738)
IS aliate 2.255*** 1.506** 2.761*** 2.191***
(0.699) (0.706) (0.644) (0.737)
Attacked U.S. −2.597*** −2.541*** −3.013*** −3.012***
(0.664) (0.942) (0.629) (0.777)
Attacked U.K. 1.240** 2.269*** 1.362*** 2.876***
(0.558) (0.717) (0.513) (1.018)
Attacked E.U. 0.062 1.879*** −0.169 2.278***
(0.477) (0.458) (0.501) (0.712)
Attacked Russia 0.529 −0.287 0.493 −0.330
(0.650) (0.578) (0.859) (0.717)
Attacked Pakistan 1.089* 1.206** 1.184* 1.696**
(0.582) (0.588) (0.674) (0.813)
Attacked India 1.470*** 1.157*** 1.770*** 1.565***
(0.276) (0.356) (0.305) (0.393)
Total deaths (log) 0.039 0.094*** 0.056* 0.143***
(0.029) (0.034) (0.033) (0.037)
Aviation target −0.355 −0.147 −0.175 1.025**
(0.232) (0.350) (0.255) (0.449)
Group age 0.084*** 0.046*** 0.087*** 0.046***
(0.011) (0.011) (0.012) (0.012)
Group size −0.164 −0.076 −0.211 −0.119
(0.147) (0.174) (0.158) (0.207)
Constant −3.744*** −2.082***
(0.416) (0.534)
N6623 2555 6623 2555
Standard errors are clustered by group in parentheses. Models 1 and 2 are ordinal logistic regression, while Models 3
and 4 are logistic regression. The term “countries” is used for brevity, but one of the six possible designators is the
European Union.
Regarding Hypothesis 4, Islamist is statistically significant and positively signed for
the U.K. and Pakistani lists. These countries are more likely to designate Islamist
groups. Concerning Hypothesis 5, AQ-related is positively signed and statistically sig-
nificant for the U.S. and Indian lists.109 These countries are more likely to designate
al-Qaeda affiliates than groups that are not affiliates. Surprisingly, the variable has a
negative and statistically significant relationship with the Pakistani list. Groups affiliated
with al-Qaeda are less likely to be proscribed by Pakistan than groups not affiliated
with al-Qaeda. IS-related is positively signed and statistically significant in the models
for the U.S. and U.K. lists. Overall, there is some support for Hypothesis 5.
Table 2. Models of terrorist group designation, for each specic list.
Model 5
U.S. list
Model 6
U.K. list
Model 7
E.U. list
Model 8
Russia list
Model 9
Pakistan list
Model 10
India list
Target type 0.139 −0.035 −0.194 −0.104 0.405** −0.016
(0.130) (0.161) (0.156) (0.208) (0.178) (0.219)
Attack method −0.054 0.050 0.479*** 0.084 −0.241 0.126
(0.132) (0.156) (0.153) (0.241) (0.208) (0.254)
Suicide 0.860** 0.209 −0.013 0.391 −0.047 1.156
(0.374) (0.436) (0.513) (0.553) (0.389) (0.754)
Prior U.S. listing 1.603*** 2.906*** 1.520** 1.923*** −0.147
(0.549) (0.620) (0.720) (0.655) (0.622)
Islamist 0.654 1.811*** −2.224 2.357 1.611** 0.264
(0.522) (0.534) (1.433) (1.504) (0.815) (0.637)
AQ-Related 1.907** −0.428 1.112 −2.937*** 5.417***
(0.809) (0.872) (1.208) (0.909) (1.799)
IS-Related 2.325*** 1.461** −0.227 −1.824 3.046
(0.744) (0.686) (1.138) (1.313) (1.988)
Prior U.K. listing 1.154** 2.617*** 1.082 1.328** −0.066
(0.502) (0.909) (0.818) (0.669) (1.083)
Prior E.U. listing 2.626*** 1.641*** −0.455 0.000 0.309
(0.548) (0.593) (1.367) (.) (0.832)
Prior Russia listing 1.100 0.980 −1.242 1.666 −0.011
(0.873) (0.828) (1.444) (1.166) (1.581)
Prior Pakistan listing 1.243* 1.928** 0.597 2.236
(0.671) (0.940) (0.894) (1.452)
Prior India listing −0.241 0.421 −0.103 −0.141 1.768**
(0.543) (0.567) (0.751) (0.986) (0.701)
Attacked U.S. −1.764**
Attacked U.K. 3.605***
Attacked E.U. 1.311
Attacked Russia 3.445**
Attacked Pakistan 3.894***
Attacked India 5.456***
Total deaths (log) 0.146*** 0.061 0.000 −0.061 −0.058 0.085
(0.043) (0.052) (0.056) (0.087) (0.077) (0.056)
Aviation 0.662 0.193 0.310 1.285 −1.192 −0.546
(0.612) (0.543) (0.560) (1.706) (1.149) (0.915)
Group age 0.038*** 0.011 0.031 0.022 0.005 0.080**
(0.014) (0.017) (0.021) (0.026) (0.034) (0.031)
Group size −0.421* 0.020 −0.401 0.704 0.334 0.676**
(0.228) (0.216) (0.290) (0.557) (0.348) (0.339)
N3537 3069 2928 2555 2539 4516
Standard errors are clustered by group in parentheses. Constants are suppressed for space reasons.
Of control variables in Table 2, the Attacked [country] variables mostly indicate that
groups that attack in a country are likely to be designated as a terrorist by that country.
One exception is the United States, with a statistically significant negative sign, consistent
with results from Table 1. Again, this is because the United States only designates foreign
organizations. Another exception is the European Union, where there is no statistically
significant relationship between attacking there and designation. This could be a com-
bination of the European Union often designating foreign groups, and the fact that some
E.U.-designated groups are dormant, so they did not implement attacks during the
analysis. In comparison, attacking the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Russia, and India, is
highly significant, implying that these governments are more likely to designate a group
when their country has been attacked by the group in question.
As for the control variables measuring group attributes, Total deaths (log) is only
significant for the U.S. model, inconsistent with the general trends in Table 1. Aviation
target is never statistically significant. Group age is statistically significant for the United
States and India, suggesting that older groups are more likely to get designated by
these two countries. Similarly, Group size is significant for the United States and India,
but negatively signed for the U.S. model. A larger group membership influences the
likelihood of being designated by India, but the United States seems more likely to
designate smaller groups.
This paper sought to explain terrorist group designation by focusing on threat per-
ception, U.S. policy diffusion, and Islamist ideology as determinants. Our central
findings are that even though governments claim that threats are the primary purpose
of their designation mechanism, terrorist designation does not seem to be generally
driven by attack or target severity, or even the use of suicide targeting or total group
lethality. In contrast, we find that the designation is often a result of policy diffusion,
especially from U.S. listing decisions, providing support for the theory of international
policy diffusion. Interestingly, Islamist groups are also much more likely to be listed
by any or all governments – even after taking into consideration the al-Qaeda and IS
networks. In all, the findings contribute by providing a systematic, comparative, and
comprehensive analysis of terrorist designation by six governments.
While most previous work only examines Western governments, we analyze Russia,
Pakistan, and India alongside the European Union, United Kingdom, and the United
States. The designation process and lists of these three former countries have barely
been analyzed previously, especially not in comparison to Western designators. We
also contribute by including a wide variety of threats as opposed to single tactics, and
by analyzing a possible influence of prior designations of six governments, as well as
by using the most updated datasets on terrorist groups.
Our findings also suggest several avenues for future research. First, designation does
not appear to be the result of severity levels of target types or attack methods, accord-
ing to prominent measures. Future research could use other measures of terrorism
severity, for instance, the “scale invariance” analyzed by Clauset et al.110 Regardless of
casualty counts or other quantitative measures, it could also be that attacking a par-
ticularly visible or shocking target is likely to be associated with subsequent designation.
Second, governments are clearly influenced by one another, indicating that the
designation process could be politicized. This seems especially likely among Western
countries. Future work could examine specific relationships between governments, such
as trade or foreign investment ties, or alliance membership, to see what makes des-
ignation diffusion more likely. More generally, researchers could try to understand
why some countries behave differently in their designation processes – or why some
countries have terrorist lists, and others do not at all.
Third, while our work is innovative for studying six countries from a few different
regions, future work might analyze other governments, such as China or Turkey. Finally,
given our finding that proscription does not seem to be driven only by violence –
attack or target severity – this raises questions about how threats are constructed. This
is consistent with critical analyses of counterterrorism,111 and suggests additional work
from that perspective is helpful for understanding proscription. Overall, given the
importance of these issues, scholars should continue to try to understand the causes
and consequences of terrorist designation.
The authors thank Blair Welsh, Federica Genovese, and Maiyoraa Jeyabraba for their helpful
comments on previous versions of the manuscript.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
Brian J. Phillips
1. Chantal de Jonge Oudraat and Jean-Luc Marret, “e Uses and Abuses of Terrorist Designation
Lists,” in e Consequences of Counterterrorism, ed. Martha Crenshaw (New York: Russel
Sage Foundation, 2010), 94–129.
2. Victor Asal, Luis De La Calle, Michael G. Findley, Joseph Young, “Killing Civilians or Holding
Territory? How to ink about Terrorism,International Studies Review 14, no. 3 (2012):
475–97, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2486.2011.01127.x; Lee Jarvis and Tim Legrand, “Legislating
for Otherness: Proscription powers and parliamentary discourse,Review of International
Studies 42, no. 3 (2016): 558–74, doi:10.1017/S0260210515000509; Polina Beliakova, Ronit
Berger, and Assaf Moghadam, “Say Terrorist, ink Insurgent: Labeling and Analyzing
Contemporary Terrorist Actors,Perspectives on Terrorism 8, no. 5 (2014): 2–17, http://
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Strategic Targeting Decisions of FTO.” International Interactions (2021): Ahead of print;
Sophie Haspeslagh, “‘Listing Terrorists’: e Impact of Proscription on ird-Party Eorts
to Engage Armed Groups in Peace Process - A Practitioner’s Perspective,Critical Studies
on Terrorism 6, no. 1 (2013): 189–208; Haspeslagh, Sophie. Proscribing Peace: How Listing
Armed Groups as Terrorists Hurts Negotiations. Manchester University Press, 2021. Hyeran
Jo, Brian J. Phillips, and Joshua Alley, “Can Blacklisting Reduce Terrorist Attacks?,” in
e Power of Global Performance Indicators, ed. Judith G. Kelley and Beth A. Simmons
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 271–99; Brian J. Phillips, “Foreign Terrorist
Organization Designation, International Cooperation, and Terrorism,International
Interactions. Empirical and eoretical Research in International Relations 45, no. 2 (2019):
4. Colin J. Beck and Emily Miner, “Who Gets Designated a Terrorist and Why?,Social Forces
91 no. 3 (2013): 837–72, doi: 10.1093/sf/sos200; Haspeslagh, “‘Listing Terrorists”; Jenny
Hocking, “Counter‐Terrorism and the Criminalisation of Politics: Australia’s New Security
Powers of Detention, Proscription and Control,Australian Journal of Politics & History,
49, no. 3 (2003): 355–71, doi: 10.1111/1467-8497.00291; Clive Walker, “‘ey haven’t gone
away you know’. e Persistence of Proscription and the Problems of Deproscription,
Terrorism and Political Violence 30, no. 2 (2018): 236–58, doi: 10.1080/09546553.2018.1432201.
For exceptions, see Ilbiz, Ethem, and Benjamin L. Curtis. “Trendsetters, Trend followers,
and Individual Players: Obtaining Global Counterterror Actor Types from Proscribed
Terror Lists.” Studies in Conict & Terrorism 38.1 (2015): 39–61; and Zhang, Chi. “e
Double-track System of Terrorism Proscription in China.” Terrorism and Political
Violence 33.3 (2021): 505–526.
5. Beck and Miner, “Who Gets Designated a Terrorist and Why?”
6. To our knowledge, this paper is the rst to examine these lists in comparison to each oth-
er. e research design section justies this sample in more detail.
7. Best and Lahiri, “Hard Choices, So Targets.
8. Jo, Phillips, and Alley, “Can Blacklisting Reduce Terrorist Attacks?”
9. Phillips, “Foreign Terrorist Organization Designation, International Cooperation, and
10. Haspeslagh, “Listing Terrorists,” Legrand, Tim, and Lee Jarvis. “Enemies of the state:
Proscription powers and their use in the United Kingdom.” British Politics 9.4 (2014):
450–471; Zhang, “e Double-track System of Terrorism Proscription in China.
11. is paper uses “group” and “organization” synonymously.
12. Brian J. Phillips, “What is a Terrorist Group? Conceptual Issues and Empirical Implications,
Terrorism and Political Violence 27, no. 2 (2015): 225–42, at 237.
13. Audrey Kurth Cronin, How Terrorism Ends: Understanding the Decline and Demise of
Terrorist Campaigns (Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009); Asal et al., “Killing
Civilians or Holding Territory?”
14. Dongfang Hou, Khusrav Gaibulloev, and Todd Sandler, “Introducing Extended Data on
Terrorist Groups (EDTG), 1970 to 2016,Journal of Conict Resolution 64, no. 1 (2019):
199–225; Jones, Seth G., and Martin C. Libicki. How terrorist groups end: Lessons for
countering al Qa’ida. Vol. 741. Rand Corporation, 2008; Joshua Tschantret, “e old ter-
rorism: a dataset, 1860–1969,International Interactions, 45, no. 5 (2019): 933–48.
15. Lee Jarvis and Tim Legrand, “e Proscription or Listing of Terrorist Organisations:
Understanding, Assessment, and International Comparisons,Terrorism and Political
Violence 30, no. 2 (2018): 199–215, doi: 10.1080/09546553.2018.1432199.
16. Ibid.; Walker, “‘ey haven’t gone away you know’.
17. Zhang, “e Double Track System of Terrorism Proscription in China.
Designating a group as terrorist, for example, could result in the freezing or conscation of
an organizations’ property; or in the prevention of an organization to travel across na-
tional borders, or use specic forms of transport, or running for political oce. See Jarvis
and Legrand, “e Proscription or Listing of Terrorist Organisations.
18. We use the following terms interchangeably: “designation, “proscription”, and “listing”.
19. Hyeran Jo, Brian J. Phillips, and Joshua Alley, “Can Blacklisting Reduce Terrorist Attacks?,
in e Power of Global Performance Indicators, ed. Judith G. Kelley and Beth A. Simmons
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 271–99; Brian J. Phillips, “Foreign Terrorist
Organization Designation, International Cooperation, and Terrorism,International
Interactions. Empirical and eoretical Research in International Relations 45, no. 2 (2019):
316–43; Paul R. Pillar, Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy, (Washington D.C.: Brookings
Institution Press, 2004).
20. Cronin, “e ‘FTO List’ and Congress.
21. “United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001)”, United Nations Security Council
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“e Proscription or Listing of Terrorist Organisations.
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23. Vicki Sentas, “Terrorist Organization Proscription as Counterinsurgency in the Kurdish
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Terrorism and Political Violence 30, no. 2 (2018): 259–77, doi: 10.1080/09546553.2018.1432211;
Nicola McGarrity and George Williams, “e Proscription of Terrorist Organisations in
Australia, Terrorism and Political Violence 30, no. 2 (2018): 216–235, doi:
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of Terrorist Organisations.
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Practices, Terrorism and Political Violence 30, no. 2 (2018): 278–97.
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of the ‘Terrorist Lists’,Journal of Common Market Studies 46, no. 1 (2008): 173–93;
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Edward V. Linden (New York: Nova Science Publishers Inc., 2004), 123–35; Oudraat and
Marret, “e Uses and Abuses of Terrorist Designation Lists.
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Terrorism and Political Violence 30, no. 2 (2018): 318–35, doi: 10.1080/09546553.2018.1432218;
Tim Legrand, “‘More Symbolic—More Political—an Substantive:’ An Interview with
James R. Clapper on the U.S. Designation of Foreign Terrorist Organizations,Terrorism
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41. Beck and Miner, “Who Gets Designated a Terrorist and Why?,” 841; Steven M. Chermak
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“Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention an Others?,” Justice
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last modied October 16, 2014, accessed May 23, 2020,
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43. Conrad and Greene, “Competition, Dierentiation, and the Severity of Terrorist Attacks.
44. Chermak and Gruenewald, “e Media’s Coverage of Domestic Terrorism.
45. Walter Enders and Todd Sandler, e Political Economy of Terrorism (Cambridge: Cambridge
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47. Conrad and Greene, “Competition, Dierentiation, and the Severity of Terrorist Attacks.
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Changed? Are We Safer?,Journal of Conict Resolution 54, no. 2 (2010): 214–36; Sara
MT Polo, “e Quality of Terrorist Violence: Explaining the Logic of Terrorist Target
Choice, Journal of Peace Research 57, no. 2 (2019): 235–50.
51. e term “civilians” here indicates not only non-combatants, but also individuals who are
not aliated with the government.
52. Victor Asal, Mitchell Brown, and Marcus Schulzke, “‘Kill em All – Old and Young,
Girls and Women and Little Children’: An Examination of the Organizational Choice of
Targeting Civilians,Political Science Research and Methods 3, no. 3 (2015): 589–607;
Brandt and Sandler, “What Do Transnational Terrorists Target?,; Conrad and Greene,
“Competition, Dierentiation, and the Severity of Terrorist Attacks.
53. Polo, “e Quality of Terrorist Violence: Explaining the Logic of Terrorist Target Choice,
238; Max Abrahams, “Credibility Paradox: Violence as a Double-Edged Sword in
International Politics,International Studies Quarterly 57, no. 4 (2013): 660–71, doi:
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See also Chapin, Ellen. “Targeting Transients: e Strategic Logic for Terrorist Targeting
of Internally Displaced Persons.” Journal of Global Security Studies 6, no. 4 (2021): 1–25;
and Farrell, Megan. “e Logic of Transnational Outbidding: Pledging Allegiance and the
Escalation of Violence.” Journal of Peace Research 57.3 (2020): 437–451.
57. Conrad and Greene, “Competition, Dierentiation, and the Severity of Terrorist Attacks.
58. Ibid.; Aaron Clauset, Maxwell Young, and Kristian Skrede Gleditsch, “On the Frequency
of Severe Terrorist Events,Journal of Conict Resolution 51, no. 1 (2007): 58–87.
59. Conrad and Greene, “Competition, Dierentiation, and the Severity of Terrorist Attacks.
60. Mia Bloom, Dying to Kill: e Allure of Suicide Bombings (New York: Columbia University
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62. Beck and Miner, “Who Gets Designated a Terrorist and Why?,” 843. Two groups in Turkey
that have used terrorism, but not suicide terrorism, and were never designated by other
countries include Grey Wolves and Turkish Hezbollah.
63. Clauset, Young, and Gleditsch, “On the Frequency of Severe Terrorist Events.
64. Chris Quillen, “A Historical Analysis of Mass Casualty Bombers,” Studies in Conict and
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65. Clauset, Young, and Gleditsch, “On the Frequency of Severe Terrorist Events,” ese at-
tacks were directly linked to Al Qaida, which has been perhaps the most frequently
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Research 50, no. 2 (2013): 235–48.
67. Chermak and Gruenwald, “e Medias Coverage of Domestic Terrorism,”; Kearns, Betus,
and Lemieux, “Why Do Some Terrorist Attacks Receive More Media Attention an
68. Rachel Briggs, e Kidnapping Business (London: e Foreign Policy Centre, 2001).
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work on the U.S. list argues that an advantage of the list is clearly signaling U.S. views
about particular groups to other countries. See Cronin, see “e ‘FTO List’ and Congress.
77. John Dumbrell, “Working with Allies: e United States, the United Kingdom, and the War
on Terror,Politics and Policy 34, no. 2 (2006): 452–72, doi: 10.1111/j.1747-1346.2006.00021.x.
78. Phillips, “Foreign Terrorist Organization Designation.
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80. Ilbiz and Curtis, “Trendsetters, Trend Followers, and Individual Players.
81. See the State Department FTO page,
82. Gehrke, Laurenz. Hundreds of lawmakers call on EU to ban Hezbollah. Politico. July 17,
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practices." Terrorism and Political Violence 30.2 (2018): 278–297.
84. Vijaykumar, Mahamtan. “Which countries helped the Sri Lankan government in the Sri
Lankan civilian war 2009?” South Asia Journal. May 15, 2020.
85. Rapoport, David C. "e Four Waves of Rebel Terror and September." Anthropoetics 8.1
(2002). Kristopher K. Robinson, Edward M. Crenshaw, and J. Craig Jenkins “Ideologies
of Violence: e Social Origins of Islamist and Leist Transnational Terrorism.Social
Forces 84, no. 4 (2006): 2009-26, doi: 10.1353/sof.2006.0106.
86. Robinson et al. “Ideologies of Violence.
87. Hou, Gaibulloev, and Sandler, “Introducing Extended Data on Terrorist Groups,”; Gary
LaFree and Laura Dugan, “Introducing the Global Terrorism Database,” Terrorism and
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88. Future research could use alternate sources such the ITERATE attack data (although it
only includes international attacks), or other group-based data such as REVMOD. See
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the Revolutionary and Militant Organizations dataset (REVMOD).Journal of Peace
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last modied March 21, 2021, accessed April 2020,
ganizations/. We use the FTO list, and not other U.S. designation mechanisms, since we
are interested in terrorist organizations, and other U.S. lists include individuals and in-
stitutions such as charities or rms. Additionally, the FTO list seems to be the most
prominent of the U.S. lists. Finally, the FTO list overlaps substantially with other U.S.
lists, such as the Specially Designated Global Terrorist or Specially Designated Nationals
lists. For example, one analysis found that 85% of the people on the Specially Designated
Global Terrorist List are members of FTOs. e actual percentage could be higher, as
group membership is oen secret. See Loertscher, Seth, Daniel Milton, Bryan Price, and
Cynthia Loertscher. e Terrorist Lists: An Examination of the U.S. Government’s
Counterterrorism Designations Eorts. Sept. 24, 2020. Combating Terrorism Center. https://
90. 76 international terrorist organizations are listed under the Terrorism Act 2000, and 14
organizations in Northern Ireland were proscribed under previous legislation. “Proscribed
Terrorist Organizations,” United Kingdom Home Oce, 2020.
91. e persons, groups and entities in this list are subject to both the freezing of funds and
other nancial assets, as well as enhanced measures related to police and judicial coop-
eration in criminal matters. See “EU Terrorist List,” European Council, last modied July
21, 2020, accessed August 23, 2020,
92. Persons and entities designated on this list are subject to enhanced measures related to
police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. e E.U. designation list is reviewed
every six months.
93. Even though the European Union maintains two separate lists, which are supposed to
distinguish between E.U. and non-E.U. entities, the second list does still include all non-E.U.
groups, which is why we use the second list. Despite that, some of the designating gov-
ernments which are included in our analysis do designate EU-based organizations.
94. “EU Terrorist List,” European Council, Council of the European Union.
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98. We adapted 198 group-names manually before merging the two datasets.
99. Following Conrad and Greene, we code some attack data as “missing,” and therefore it
is not assigned a category, if the attack is coded as one of the three following target
types: Abortion, Other, or Religious. ey argue that the severity categorization of these
types is not clear.
100. Conrad and Greene, “Competition, Dierentiation, and the Severity of Terrorist Attacks,
101. is variable and Attack method are only correlated at .27, which makes sense because
Attack method captures a broader range of types of attacks.
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trator group is recorded.
104. We add a trivial value, .01, before taking the logarithm since the logarithm of zero is
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these groups appear on the E.U. list.
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Violence.” International Studies Quarterly 64.3 (2020): 499-509.
Terrorist designation has increasingly become an important counterterrorism tool used by intergovernmental organizations and state governments. This article examines the determinants of terrorist listing and argues that terrorist listing is driven by security as well as political concerns. While countries tend to designate groups that pose a greater security threat, terrorist listing can also be influenced by interstate relationships including alliance ties and state rivalry. We test these arguments using a dataset on 35 countries that currently maintain their own lists of designated terrorist organizations. Our findings show that governments are more likely to list groups that have a record of attacking their domestic interests. Domestic groups are more likely to be designated than foreign groups. Moreover, countries are more likely to designate groups that are designated by their allies, even when these groups do not pose a direct threat. Our study contributes to the literature on terrorism and more broadly international security by systematically examining the determinants of terrorist designation and explaining the heterogeneity of terrorist lists across countries.
Full-text available
The international environmental community and many donor countries have encouraged developing countries to adopt renewable energy (RE) policies that will encourage low-carbon energy development. While the drivers of RE policy adoption have been well-studied in the U.S. and Europe, we know little about the factors that drive RE policy adoption in developing countries. Both theory and anecdotal evidence suggest that policies often spread when one country emulates another’s policy, but scholars of policy diffusion have tended to focus on emulation of political and ideological peers, overlooking other factors that may be particularly critical for driving RE policy adoption, including emulation of peers with similar electric sector conditions and emulation that is driven by coercive donor-recipient aid relationships. We use a directed dyadic analysis to assess the factors that prompt a country to emulate another’s policies and to determine whether emulation patterns differ across developed and developing countries. We find that both sets of countries tend to emulate the policies of their political peers, and that developing countries tend to emulate the policies of donors. The effect of electric sector similarities varies by policy type. Countries emulate feed-in tariffs of countries with similar electric sector conditions, but they emulate quota policies of countries with dissimilar levels of reliance on renewable energy. Results suggest that different policies may diffuse via different emulation patterns.
Full-text available
Terrorist attacks often dominate news coverage as reporters seek to provide the public with information. Yet, not all incidents receive equal attention. Why do some terrorist attacks receive more media coverage than others? We argue that perpetrator religion is the largest predictor of news coverage, while target type, being arrested, and fatalities will also impact coverage. We examined news coverage from LexisNexis Academic and for all terrorist attacks in the United States between 2006 and 2015 (N = 136). Controlling for target type, fatalities, and being arrested, attacks by Muslim perpetrators received, on average, 357% more coverage than other attacks. Our results are robust against a number of counterarguments. The disparities in news coverage of attacks based on the perpetrator’s religion may explain why members of the public tend to fear the “Muslim terrorist” while ignoring other threats. More representative coverage could help to bring public perception in line with reality.
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How does branding militant groups as “Foreign Terrorist Organizations” (FTOs) affect them? Beyond its obvious policy importance, this question speaks to debates about counterterrorism, terrorism financing, and organizational dynamics of subnational violence. This article analyzes FTO designation, a key policy used by the U.S. government since 1997 to impose costs on foreign terrorist groups and those who might support them. Contrary to arguments that sanctions are ineffective and that terrorism is too “cheap” to be affected, it is argued that designation should weaken terrorist groups, reducing their attacks over time. However, the effect is probably conditional. FTO designation should be especially effective against groups operating in U.S.-aligned countries, given the importance of international cooperation in counterterrorism. Global quantitative analyses suggest that FTOs operating in U.S.-aligned countries carry out fewer attacks over time than other groups, taking many other factors into consideration.
Proscription lists are common counter-terror tools, yet their impact on terrorist violence is unclear. We find that proscription can be effective at constraining the violence of some types of groups, especially those that are young, secular, and without institutional support. However, proscription also can backfire from a counter-terrorist prospective, especially when applied to groups that are well-established, religious, and/or sponsored by states. Our analysis evaluates 534 terrorist groups, including sixty-six that were ultimately proscribed under the United States’ Foreign Terror Organization list. Unsurprisingly, we find that terrorist groups that attract proscription are more violent and better equipped to tap into international terror networks. While younger groups and nationalist groups are more vulnerable to proscription, older religious groups and those with state sponsors seem to be more violent after proscription. Proscription can be an effective tool for reducing terrorist attacks and lethality, but it is most effective against younger terror groups and states should exercise caution in its use as it may not have the desired effects on all types of groups. Las listas de proscripción son herramientas antiterroristas comunes; no obstante, su impacto sobre la violencia terrorista es poco claro. Observamos que la proscripción puede ser efectiva en la limitación de la violencia de algunos tipos de grupos, en especial de los grupos nuevos, seculares y que no reciben apoyo institucional. Sin embargo, la proscripción también puede resultar contraproducente desde una perspectiva antiterrorista, especialmente cuando se aplica a grupos sólidamente establecidos, religiosos o que cuentan con el patrocinio del Estado. Nuestro análisis evalúa 534 grupos terroristas, incluidos 66 que se proscribieron finalmente conforme a la lista de Organizaciones Terroristas Extranjeras de los Estados Unidos. Como era de esperarse, observamos que los grupos terroristas que suscitan la proscripción son más violentos y están mejor equipados para acceder a redes internacionales de terrorismo. Mientras que los grupos más nuevos y los nacionalistas son más vulnerables a la proscripción, los grupos religiosos más antiguos y aquellos que reciben el patrocinio del Estado parecen ser más violentos después de la proscripción. La proscripción puede ser una herramienta efectiva para reducir la letalidad y los ataques terroristas, pero es más efectiva contra los grupos terroristas más nuevos, y los Estados deberían aplicarla con precaución, ya que es posible que no tenga los efectos deseados en todos los tipos de grupos. Les listes de proscriptions sont des outils courants de lutte contre le terrorisme, mais leur impact sur la violence terroriste n’est pas clair. Nous constatons que la proscription peut être efficace pour limiter la violence de certains types de groupes, en particulier ceux qui sont jeunes, laïques et sans soutien institutionnel. Cependant, la proscription peut également se retourner contre elle dans une perspective antiterroriste, en particulier lorsqu’elle est appliquée à des groupes bien établis, religieux et/ou soutenus par des États. Notre analyze évalue 534 groupes terroristes, dont soixante-six qui ont en définitive été proscrits en vertu de la liste des organizations terroristes étrangères des États-Unis. Sans surprise, nous constatons que les groupes terroristes qui attirent la proscription sont plus violents et mieux équipés pour puiser dans les réseaux terroristes internationaux. Tandis que les groupes plus jeunes et les groupes nationalistes sont plus vulnérables à la proscription, les groupes religieux plus anciens et les groupes soutenus par un État semblent devenir plus violents suite à la proscription. La proscription peut être un outil efficace pour réduire les attaques terroristes et leur létalité, mais c’est contre les groupes terroristes plus jeunes qu’elle est la plus efficace et les États devraient faire preuve de prudence dans son utilization car elle peut ne pas avoir les effets souhaités sur tous les types de groupes.
The Power of Global Performance Indicators - edited by Judith G. Kelley March 2020
This paper contributes to the debate on terrorism designation and proscription by providing information and analysis on the “double-track” system of terrorism designation and proscription in China. It calls for greater attention to China’s terrorism proscription system as China has increased its engagement in international affairs and became more willing and capable of international cooperation in counterterrorism. The case of China provides important insights from a non-Western perspective into how states function in dealing with the challenge terrorism poses. In particular, it examines China’s efforts in balancing effective counterterrorism and the accountability of the government. Adopting an interpretivist approach based on primarily Chinese-language documents, it traces the development of China’s proscription regime since 2003 to illustrate its evolution from ad-hoc list-making to a more complicated system. Because of the difficulties in collecting information and presenting it as admissible evidence in court, like many other countries, China relies on the executive for terrorism designation and proscription. While the workings of China’s proscription system demonstrates authoritarian characteristics, the development of its proscription regime reveals how it sought to respond to the concerns about the legitimacy of its counterterrorism practice, for example, on issues of due process and presumption of innocence.
[ The full article is available Open-access at:] Conventional analyses of terrorism proscription rely on conceptions of policy in terms of bureaucratic institutions and processes functioning according to means-end rationality, and law as an institutionalised body of rules expressive of sovereign power. By contrast, this article argues that the workings of Western terrorism proscription are inseparable from and deeply conditioned by situated interpretations of the contexts and dynamics within which West-led interventions for global stability—equated with liberal order—are pursued. Predicated on a seemingly self-evident division between “liberal” conduct, actors, and practices and illiberal ones which threaten the former, the production of good order requires the strengthening of the former, and the disciplining, transformation, or destruction of the latter. However, categorisations as “liberal” or “non-liberal” are not derived from “objective” criteria, but always mutually dependent on the situated interpretations by (self-recognised) liberals of the contexts within which they are intervening. Taking an interpretive approach that treats state action as situated practice, the article traces Western states’ security engagement with Sri Lanka before, during, and after the armed conflict (1983–2009) to show how changing calculations for liberal peace there governed evolving proscription practices in relation to the LTTE and the Tamil diaspora.
This article serves as an introduction to this Special Issue on the banning or proscription of terrorist organisations around the world. It begins by arguing for greater attention to proscription powers because of their contemporary ubiquity, considerable historical lineage, implications for political life, and ambiguous effectiveness. Following an overview of the Issue’s questions and ambitions, the article discusses five themes: key moments of continuity and change within proscription regimes around the world; the significance of domestic political and legal contexts and institutions; the value of this power in countering terrorism and beyond; a range of prominent criticisms of proscription, including around civil liberties; and the significance of language and other symbolic practices in the justification and extension of proscription powers. We conclude by sketching the arguments and contributions of the subsequent articles in this Issue.
This article applies securitization theory to account for the proscription of organizations linked to Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) in Spain. I argue that securitization is vital for understanding the evolution of Spanish counterterrorism policy from tolerating to banning political organisations not directly involved in terrorist attacks, but supporting and sympathetic to ETA. More specifically, I examine the role of the judiciary in the initiation of securitization processes in which ETA came to be conceived as a “complex structure” integrating armed and unarmed activists, and the resonance of judicial securitization frames in the public sphere. I do so by analysing evolving conceptions of the relationship between ETA and two organizations—the youth group Jarrai and its successors Haika and Segi and the ETA prisoners’ lobby Gestoras proAmnistía and its successor Alkatasuna—as articulated in court rulings and a sample of 573 newspaper articles published in the Spanish daily El País between 1994 and 2016. I argue that two modes of securitization can be observed in these cases, one extending security threats posed by ETA’s terrorist strategy to the political organizations and one framing both the terrorist group and political organizations as threats to the democratic community.
Canada’s approach to proscription differs from that of other Westminster democracies. After the negative example of listing in the October Crisis, 1970 and with the subsequent advent of a constitutional bill of rights, Canada does not ban organizations; instead it penalizes certain forms of conduct, above mere membership, with terrorist groups. “Terrorist groups” include entities listed proactively by the executive, but also entities that meet a functional definition in Canadian criminal law. In practice, the latter, functionally-defined terrorist groups have figured in most terrorism prosecutions—only a few cases have involved listed groups. With the new focus on Daesh (a listed group), that may begin to change. However, executive listing raises unresolved constitutional doubts in Canada, prompting concerns that reliance on proscription may be more trouble than it is worth. Listing has also been used with respect to individuals, but such listings in Canada have already produced false positives, perhaps because of the due process deficits of listing by the executive. In many respects, therefore, terrorist group listing is yesterday’s law, problematic and of marginal utility. There may be reasons of administrative expediency to preserve listing, but the tool is more doubtful when used as a precursor to criminal prosecutions.