Abstract of Oil and Terrorism: Uncovering the Mechanisms

The sum total of the political effects generated by the oil industry makes it a leading cause of war.

Cover of Journal of Conflict Resolution Vol 62 Issue 5

Abstract: Is there an association between oil and terrorism? If so, how are they linked to each other? While there are literature and anecdotes about oil money financing terrorism, this article identifies three mechanisms through which oil is linked to terrorism: funding, targeting, and motivating. Oil-producing countries are prone to terrorism because they are important targets of terrorists who may attack oil facilities to cause greater impact and to harm powerful countries’ overseas interests and also because oil often generates grievances or greed among local people who may in turn engage in terrorist activities. Using data on terrorist incidents and oil income, this article finds a strong, positive relationship between oil and terrorism. To test the mechanisms, this article uses both large-N and small-N data analyses, and the findings suggest that while all three mechanisms appear to explain the oil–terrorism linkage, the targeting and motivating mechanisms are more likely than the funding mechanism. Oil-producing countries have a higher tendency to sponsor terrorism, but no direct evidence indicates oil money flowing to terrorists except for money from kidnapping or extorting oil workers.

Chia-yi Lee: Oil and Terrorism: Uncovering the Mechanisms. Journal of Conflict Resolution. 2018; 62(5): 903-1928. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0022002716673702

Related Articles

Anti-government Libyan rebel in front of oil refinery

Oil, Terrorism, and Violence

By Jeff Colgan

Your story is our history

Give voice to your unique story about how the December 21, 1988, terrorist attack against America impacted your life. Preserve your memories and legacy by helping to create the most extensive curated digital library of personal Pan Am 103 Lockerbie stories for our Historical Archives.