After 9/11, a copious literature emerged on the problem of contemporary international terrorism. In particular, the tight intermingling of religious fanaticism and mass violence, as epitomized by al Qaeda, led many to speculate on the essence of this phenomenon. As a result, terms like terrorism and asymmetric warfare are now widely recognized as “high concepts”. Needless to say, terrorism is also a key issue from a policy-oriented perspective. As the frequency and lethality of terror attacks clearly shows, the threat posed by organizations like al Qaeda is far from transitory. Quite the contrary, as some noted1, this kind of “asymmetric warfare” seems to be a defining feature of the current security context. As a result, any state’s security agenda should be broadened to include counter-terrorism among its top priorities. For sure, the damage suffered after 9/11 made the US the most active supporter of a full-fledged war on terror. What is worth noting, though, is that other states, albeit victims of terror attacks, developed different strategies to fight terrorism–as it is the case with European states, which explicitly declined the military option in their own fight against terrorism2. The aim of this article is to interpret al Qaeda’s modus operandi in the light of the economic theory of contests3. The main idea expressed here is that al Qaeda can be considered as a firm (whose CEO is Osama bin Laden) 4 rewarding an indivisible prize–namely, official membership–and affiliated groups
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)62-68
Numero di pagine7
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2008


  • Contest
  • Economic Analysis of terrorism
  • Al Qaeda


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