Governance: The Political Science Journal at UNLV

Governance: The Political Science Journal at UNLV


terrorism; CBRN weapons; religion; denuclearization

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General theories of terrorism typically focus on economic, social, or political factors that lead to terrorist acts. Conversely, chemical, biological, radiational, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons are rarely spoken of in academic literature. Yet, these weapons are still used by terrorists in some capacity. In this paper, I argue that religion is the primary factor that influences terrorists to pursue CBRN weapons as opposed to more secular-based terrorists. This is due to the fact that religious-based terrorists are not concerned with preserving their reputation or credibility among society, as well as being so blinded by their religion that they are willing to use a highly destructive weapon to achieve their goal. Utilizing data from the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) that analyzed terrorist attacks from 2010 to 2016, I find that religious-based terrorist organizations are more likely to pursue CBRN weapons than non-religious based terrorist organizations. These results should be further indication that more research needs to be added to the literature of terrorism and help encourage the demilitarization of these hazardous weapons.