Terrorist critical infrastructures, organizational capacity and security risk

Corri Zoli, Laura J. Steinberg, Martha Grabowski, Margaret Hermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This essay addresses gaps between studies of terrorism and infrastructure resilience to explore “terrorist critical infrastructures” (TCIs) as one critically missing framework to understand the rise of terrorist political violence globally. This approach to global terrorism maximizes core perspectives common in resilience and safety research and uses comparative analyses from terrorism studies, systems engineering, and infrastructure protection. We develop a topology of terrorist infrastructures, introduce the concepts of “enabling” and “coopted” TCIs, and contrast characteristics of TCIs with those of conventional infrastructures. We argue that the organizational intelligence that comes from aligning strategic goals with infrastructural capacity is critical to explaining the prevalence, durability, and resilience of many terrorist organizations (as well as their increasing use of violence). We can understand these emerging organizational forms by their design and development, often flat, mobile, and flexible ‘networks of networks’ themselves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalSafety Science
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Conflict actors
  • Emergency management
  • Terrorism
  • Threat assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Building and Construction
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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