System Dynamics Seminar: “Behavior Modes of Terrorism: A Descriptive Analysis of Ideology & Affiliation across 22 Years of Terror Attacks”

Friday, March 29, 2019
10:00 am to 11:00 am
Floor/Room #: 

In this week’s Collective Learning Meeting, Timothy Clancy ( will be presenting his work:


Behavior Modes of Terrorism: A Descriptive Analysis of Ideology & Affiliation across 22 Years of Terror Attacks
Abstract: As part of his dissertation Timothy is working to resolve and evolve the long-standing debate within counter-terrorism. This debate, known as the Sageman-Hoffman debate or the Swarm vs. Fisherman debate has major impact on policy, funding, and public understanding of terrorism. It focuses on whether terrorism is predominantly an act of locally radicalized individuals absent non-state actor influence (the Swarm hypothesis) or a result of non-state actors identifying, recruiting and radicalizing local actors from afar (the Fisherman hypothesis.)  Previously Timothy had examined salafi-takfiri (an ideology associated with Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban, Boko Haram etc.) attacks identifying both Swarm and Fisherman system states in Western Europe and the United States.  In this effort, Timothy expands that work across nine ideological categories (Anti-Government, Anti-Semitic, Crime, Hate-Crime, Left Wing, Right Wing, Separatist, Takfiri & Unknown).  Working from a data set of nearly 4,500 terror attacks in Western Europe and the United States, Timothy will present a descriptive analysis of both ideology and affiliation.  Behavior modes are created to identify the risk and threat of different ideologies and whether those vary by system-state of Swarm or Fisherman. Behavior modes also demonstrate the changing system-state patterns of certain ideologies demonstrating these vary within ideologies across regions, time and present a strong basis for proceeding with the general framework.  

Biography: Timothy is a PhD Candidate researching the reduction of violence and instability. He is also a full-time consultant with the United States Marine Corps where he currently supports efforts to incorporate systems thinking into problem-solving techniques. Timothy has already published two articles of his dissertation relating to the life-cycle of non-state actors in a special edition of Systems 2018, 6(2). He hopes to complete his dissertation defense sometime before the sun reaches the end of it’s main-sequence stage. 


Hope to see many of you there! If you can't make it in person, join us through

Alice Clark
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