Alakoc, Burcu Pinar, Gulay Ugur Goksel and Alan Zarychta. 2021. “Political Discourse and Public Attitudes toward Syrian Refugees in Turkey,” Comparative Politics.

Abstract: Sustaining positive attitudes toward refugees is a priority as refugee crises surge worldwide. This study draws on 85 in-depth interviews with citizens in four provinces across Turkey. We identified prominent frames from Turkish political discourse and asked individuals to recount their self-narratives of attitude formation about Syrian refugees. We find that most respondents’ narratives included multiple frames, confirming that attitudes are often products of contradictory factors. Furthermore, humanitarianism and shared religion, frames thought to support positive attitudes, did not have such straightforward associations here. Humanitarianism was a positive force early, but had limits as compassion fatigue set in, and respondents described polarizing differences in religious practices rather than shared religion. Our work highlights the importance of examining attitude formation in non-Western settings for understanding views about and supporting societal inclusion of refugees.

Alakoc, Burcu Pinar, Stephanie Werner, Mike Widmeier. 2021. “Violent and Nonviolent Strategies of Terrorist Organizations: How do Mixed Strategies Influence Terrorist Recruitment and Lethality?Studies in Conflict and Terrorism.

Abstract: Terrorist organizations do not solely rely on violence; but also utilize a range of nonviolent activities from political engagement to social services provision. We argue that terrorist organizations that use a combination of violent and nonviolent strategies are more effective in achieving two important organizational goals than those that rely solely on violent strategies. Using the Reputation of Terror Groups Dataset (2016), we demonstrate that organizations that deploy both violent and nonviolent strategies are better able to attract new recruits and carry out more lethal attacks than those that rely exclusively on violence.

Alakoc, Burcu Pinar. 2020. “Femme Fatale: The Lethality of Female Suicide Bombers,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 43 (9): 796-814.  

Abstract: Are female suicide bombers deadlier than male suicide bombers? Utilizing newly coded data on the tactical attributes of suicide terrorism worldwide from 1998 to 2015, this study shows that the use of female suicide bombers is not only positively correlated with the lethality of the suicide attacks, but also accentuates the existing tactical advantages of suicide terrorism. Especially in the cases of soft targets like civilians, and easily accessible locations, the deadliest outcomes result from those attacks carried out by female suicide bombers.

Alakoc, Burcu Pinar. 2019. “Terror in the Classroom: Teaching Terrorism without Terrorizing,” Journal of Political Science Education 15(2): 218-236.

Abstract: Despite its popularity among students, terrorism is a sensitive and emotive topic that is difficult to learn, and challenging to teach. Given the lack of a simple definition, terrorism is hard to explain objectively and comprehensively. Perceptually value-laden and provocative, it can reinforce stereotypes and prejudices against a group of people generating conflicting emotional reactions in the classroom. The disturbingly violent nature of the subject can also be hard to communicate to students while staying calm and professional. Additionally, it is a subject where interactive methods cannot easily be incorporated, and the use of humor may come out as inappropriate and abrasive to different audiences. Taking these as a point of departure, this paper draws on my experiences as a researcher and professor of terrorism to illustrate the ways in which these challenges can be mitigated. Overall, the article provides examples and strategies to help instructors not terrorize or be terrorized while teaching sensitive and controversial subjects such as terrorism.

Alakoc, Burcu Pinar. 2017. “When Suicide Kills: An Empirical Analysis of the Lethality of Suicide Terrorism,” International Journal of Conflict and Violence 11: 1-15.

Abstract: Why are some suicide terrorist attacks deadlier than others? Suicide bombers, unlike stationary bombs, are self-guided human weapons; they can deliver and detonate explosives at a specific time and place with precision. Coding and analyzing new data on over four hundred suicide terrorist incidents from all around the world between 1998 and 2015, this paper argues that the number of fatalities resulting from suicide attacks is a function of strategic choices made by the perpetrators, such as where to attack and whom to target. Results of this analysis show that suicide attacks that seize targets of opportunity are the most lethal. Specifically, suicide attacks that target civilians in enclosed and easily accessible places, and that are undertaken by multiple perpetrators result in the highest numbers of fatalities. Understanding these strategic tactical attributes of suicide terrorism is fundamental to devising effective counterterrorism strategies that aim at hardening soft targets and minimizing the lethal impact of these attacks.

Alakoc, Burcu Pinar. 2017. “Competing to Kill: Terrorist Organizations versus Lone Wolf Terrorists,” Journal of Terrorism and Political Violence 29 (3): 509-532.

Abstract: Are organizationally linked suicide attacks deadlier than those launched by lone wolf terrorists? This article elaborates a perpetrator-based distinction among suicide terrorist attacks between organizations and lone wolf terrorists, who operate in the absence of a financially or physically supportive terrorist organization. The expectation is that terrorist organizations would serve as commitment tools that increase the loyalty of suicide bombers to their missions through material and non-material incentives. Findings demonstrate that when terrorist organizations are involved in the planning and execution of suicide terrorist attacks, not only do they increase the lethality of these attacks but they also accentuate the tactical advantages of suicide terrorism. These findings suggest that despite the recent upsurge and concern about lone wolf terrorism, the lethality and security impacts of suicide terrorism continue to be driven by terrorist organizations.

Current Research

Under Review

  • Threat Perceptions, Integration, and Citizenship: The Case of Syrian Refugees in Turkey (with Alan Zarychta and Gulay Ugur Goksel)
  • Comparing National versus International Coverage of Terrorism: Framing Analysis of the Reina Nightclub Terrorist Attack (with Emel Ozdora-Aksak)
  • Women and Nonviolent Activism: An Analysis of the Women in Black Movement (Invited to Revise and Resubmit).

Working Papers

  • Insurgent Group Characteristics and the Variation in Counterinsurgency Responses (with Victor Asal)
  • The Interplay of Public and Private Goods in Suicide Terrorism: A Comparison of Hamas and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
  • Book Project: From Suicide Bombers to Peacemakers: The Role of Women in Counterterrorism.

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