The Strategic Logic of Large Militant Alliance Networks

Christopher W. Blair, Philip B.K. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Ideological and operational credibility are essential to the success of transnational terrorist organizations. We demonstrate that militant groups can leverage large alliance networks to bolster their ideological and operational reputations. Organizations can draw on operational capabilities and successes to build international networks that bolster their ideological credibility. Conversely, organizations with reputations for ideological authority can lend it to affiliates, who offer reach into active conflicts, bolstering claims to operational capacity. This logic of comparative advantage suggests that militant alliances can be a strategic response to underlying material or ideological deficits. We illustrate these dynamics through data-driven case studies of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State’s cooperative networks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberogac035
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


  • alliance
  • cooperation
  • network
  • terrorism


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