Abstract for:Resolving the Sageman-Hoffman Debate on Terrorist Radicalization

This work seeks to resolve a debate between counter-terrorism experts Marc Sageman[1] and Bruce Hoffman[2] on the methods of radicalization of terrorists. The debate resolves around whether radicalization is a “bottom-up” (swarm) process largely driven by individual factors and loose networks connected by the internet or a “top-down” (fisherman) process that relies on foreign terrorist organizations (FTO). Each author’s theories are first modeled using causal-loop diagrams independently with their strengths and weaknesses discussed. A dataset of terrorist acts from the Global Terrorism Dataset covering 1995-2016 is analyzed using fractal segmentation. This analysis reveals that both Sageman and Hoffman theories have validity in the historical record. That they may be describing different behavior-modes of the same underlying system structure. A synthesis dynamic hypothesis of both theories into a single causal-loop diagram is constructed. This dynamic hypothesis serves as the basis for an abstracted numerical simulation model to test under what contingencies a swarm or fisherman behaviors may emerge in a system and what drives system-state transitions. Multiple instantiations of the system with varying policy responses are tested, with representative results presented.