"The potential for conflict between the United States and terrorist groups is higher than in the recent past. This thesis attempts to understand the underlying causes for the rise and fall of terrorist groups by developing a theory that explains the evolution of their life cycles. This thesis argues that once organizational issues take priority over instrumental ones terrorism becomes self-defeating and survival threatening for the terrorist group. Since this priority shift occurs as a natural consequence of their internal dynamics, the seeds of a terrorist group's destruction exist within the group itself. Factors external to the terrorist group, however, can suppress the germination of those seeds and allow the group to survive. The dynamic interaction of these internal and external influences shapes a terrorist group's life cycle. Understanding the nature of this process is important for the design of counterterrorist policy."
Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC): http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/