The development and interaction of terrorist and fanatic groups

Erika Camacho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Through the mathematical study of two models we quantify some of the theories of co-development and co-existence of focused groups in the social sciences. This work attempts to develop the mathematical framework behind the social sciences of community formation. By using well developed theories and concepts from ecology and epidemiology we hope to extend the theoretical framework of organizing and self-organizing social groups and communities, including terrorist groups. The main goal of our work is to gain insight into the role of recruitment and retention in the formation and survival of social organizations. Understanding the underlining mechanisms of the spread of ideologies under competition is a fundamental component of this work. Here contacts between core and non-core individuals extend beyond its physical meaning to include indirect interaction and spread of ideas through phone conversations, emails, media sources and other similar mean. This work focuses on the dynamics of formation of interest groups, either ideological, economical or ecological and thus we explore the questions such as, how do interest groups initiate and co-develop by interacting within a common environment and how do they sustain themselves? Our results show that building and maintaining the core group is essential for the existence and survival of an extreme ideology. Our research also indicates that in the absence of competitive ability (i.e., ability to take from the other core group or share prospective members) the social organization or group that is more committed to its group ideology and manages to strike the right balance between investment in recruitment and retention will prevail. Thus under no cross interaction between two social groups a single trade-off (of these efforts) can support only a single organization. The more efforts that an organization implements to recruit and retain its members the more effective it will be in transmitting the ideology to other vulnerable individuals and thus converting them to believers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3086-3097
Number of pages12
JournalCommunications in Nonlinear Science and Numerical Simulation
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Competing interest groups
  • Epidemiological model
  • Extreme ideology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Numerical Analysis
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Applied Mathematics


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