A new study by Max Abrahms and Matthew Gottfried titled “Does Terrorism Pay? An Empirical Analysis” argues that it does not because government compliance is usually not forthcoming.
An interesting finding is that governments are more likely to deal with terrorists in hostage situations when the demands are the release of prisoners or money, as opposed to political demands.
Abrahms, an expert on insurgency and terrorism at Northeastern University in Boston, told The Jerusalem Postthat the study builds on his previous work that shows statistically that militant groups are less likely to achieve their demands when they physically harm civilians.
“In the aforementioned study, we show that terrorism doesn’t pay in the context of hostage situations. Specifically, hostage-takers are less likely to successfully pressure government compliance when civilians are harmed in the course of the hostage crisis. Hostage- takers have better success at the bargaining table when they refrain from harming the captives, especially when they are not civilians,” he said.