This project will investigate tactical, strategic, and operational learning of terrorist groups. Learning occurs in context, not in a vacuum. Answering the questions of learning from what or learning from whom, the project is designed to systematically analyse the three kinds of terrorist learning on three contextual levels: the micro level, the meso level, and the macro level. On the micro level, terrorist organisations learn from their own experiences. Terrorists scrutinise their past mistakes and successes. On the meso level, terrorists learn from other terrorist groups. Terrorist groups compete with or emulate other groups’ tactics, their strategies, and their operational innovations. Hezbollah’s suicide operations, for example, have been studied by terrorist organisations around the globe. On the macro level, terrorist groups are entangled in a violent competition with the state or they emulate state sponsors epitomised for example by training in how to use weapons or how to spread propaganda.

While the terrorism literature lacks primary data, this project will build on qualitative field research in the Middle East, Western Europe, the United States, and Sri Lanka. It capitalises on the accessibility of former members of terrorists groups who have reintegrated into society as well as the accessibility of prisoners.

The postdoc and the doctoral students will conduct research and field work. Additionally, the postdoc will build and maintain close contacts with the academic and policy-making community in Europe and the United States.

We are looking for research proposals that will generate data that can be used for comparison. The applicants will be expected to share their data with other members of the team for joint analysis and publication.

Application deadline: October 31.

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