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Complexity theory and the war on terror: understanding the self-organising dynamics of leaderless jihad

Bousquet, Antoine (2012) Complexity theory and the war on terror: understanding the self-organising dynamics of leaderless jihad. Journal of International Relations and Development 15 , pp. 345-369. ISSN 1408-6980.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/jird.2011.24

Abstract

This article seeks to substantiate theoretically Marc Sageman's claims of a ‘leaderless jihad’ through the application of the conceptual framework offered by the novel scientific paradigm of complexity theory. It is argued that jihadist networks, such as those behind the September 11 attacks and the bombings in London and Madrid, can be profitably understood in terms of complex adaptive systems, emergent organisations that coalesce and self-organise in a decentralised fashion. Complexity sheds new light on the jihadist movement by providing an account of the bottom-up self-organisation of its networks and the systems of distributed intelligence which allow those networks to operate and pursue successful attacks on the basis of partial and localised information, and this despite the strenuous efforts at counter-terrorism deployed by states.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Politics
Depositing User: Dr Antoine Bousquet
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2012 13:12
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/4823

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