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Government's role in supporting insurgencies and terrorism

Violence generated by non-state armed groups (NAGs) such as ethnic and religious insurgents, terrorists and guerrillas is on the rise. An EU initiative examined government support for NAGs.
Government's role in supporting insurgencies and terrorism
States are known to provide support to NAGs in the form of safe havens, weapons and funding. Existing literature does not acknowledge NAGs' exploitation of vulnerable states. Furthermore, current NAGs data sets do not systematically address external support as a key factor in the establishment and continued existence of these groups.

The EU-funded STATE-NAGCOOPERATION (Cooperation between states and non-state armed groups: Systematic or random partnerships?) project gathered extensive data on 425 NAGs to deepen understanding of the relationship between states and NAGs.

Researchers collected data from thousands of sources and about 10 000 observations. They then coded external state support for each NAG targeting a state from 1945 to 2010. On the data portal each NAG has a profile page with details such as year of creation, identity, purpose, name of supporter states, news and academic sources.

Three colour-coded world maps represent time periods in terms of active and passive support. With respect to existing data sets, this time-series cross-sectional data tool provides several innovations. It distinguishes between active and passive support, covers a 70-year time span, indicates ethno-national and religious identities, and specifies aims beyond political and/or territorial claims.

Findings showed that states are largely responsible for the threat of NAGs, and are more likely to provide support to those they identify with ethnically, religiously and ideologically. Most support comes from relatively strong states as opposed to weak or failed ones. Passive support has increased considerably since the Cold War because of new or emerging democracies. In this case, states do not deliberately create channels to help NAGs, but do so inadvertently due to their inability to secure borders.

Research papers will be published in book format by a leading university press.

STATE-NAGCOOPERATION advanced the state of the art in this area of inquiry. By doing so, various key players now have a wealth of online resources at their disposal to determine whether a government creates direct and indirect channels to aid NAGs and if it knowingly consents to support.

Related information


Non-state armed groups, insurgents, terrorists, government support
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