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Logic of Terrorist Target Choice: An Examination of Chechen Rebel Bombings From 1997-2003

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict & Terrorism Volume: 31 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2008 Pages: 60-79
Lisa M. McCartan; Andrea Masselli; Michael Rey; Danielle Rusnak
Date Published
January 2008
20 pages
This article examines the logic of the Chechen terrorists' choices of bombing targets in the context of the Chechen-Russian conflict between 1997 and 2003.
Chechnya has been attempting to attain full sovereignty from Russia since 1991. A small group of the Chechen population has used terrorist tactics to further this goal of full sovereignty. In an attempt to retain Chechnya as part of Russia, Russia has used full military power to fight Chechen terrorism. Over the course of 15 years, Chechen rebels have killed hundreds of Chechen and Russian citizens in both Chechnya and Russia. This analysis of the terrorist bombings found that civilian targets were more likely to be bombed in Russia while noncivilian targets were more likely to be bombed in Chechnya. Bombing Russian military and government targets in Chechnya was meant to show to the Chechen populace Russia's vulnerability to attack as long as it persisted in what the rebels viewed as an unwelcome occupation of their country. The attack on civilian targets inside Russia is meant to demonstrate to the Russian populace that their government cannot protect them from attack as long as Chechnya is prevented by the Russian Government from gaining its independence. The rational intent of these terrorist attacks is to weaken the resolve of both the Russian Government and the Russian civilian populace regarding the forced retention of Chechnya as part of Russia. This analysis of the bombings focused on variables that addressed type of target, target location, month of the bombing, year of the bombing, number of victims, and the city population. 5 tables, 13 notes, and 56 references