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Terrorist Black Holes: A study into terrorist sanctuaries and governmental weakness

1 November 2005

In light of the growing interest in terrorist sanctuaries, failed/weak states and terrorism, the Clingendael Centre for Strategic Studies has commissioned a report to answer the following two questions:

What areas constitute terrorist sanctuaries?
What factors have amounted to these areas becoming terrorist sanctuaries?

In formulating the answer, the concept of black holes is introduced. This report conceptualizes black holes as areas where effective state control is jeopardized and which are inhabited by criminal, terrorist or militant non-state actors (terrorist black holes). The theory of black holes is proposed as a refinement to the state failure theory, which has up till now been considered the authoritative approach for studying terrorism and state weakness.

The relevance of this study is two-fold:
It complements current thinking about state fragility and terrorism.
It is a step towards refining terrorism risk assessments and analyses.

In doing to, it contributes to the development of intelligence products in relation to transnational terrorism. In itself the report will serve as basis for further academic research.

This report has been publised under the authority of the Clingendael Centre for Strategic Studies, the predecessor of the Hague Centre for Strategic Studies.