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Urban Terrorists in Continental Europe after 1970: Implications for Deterrence and Defeat of Violent Nonstate Actors

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This article considers the experience of continental European governments after 1970 in dealing with indigenous groups that sought the violent overthrow of parliamentary democracy and market economics. Drawing on detailed case histories of the so-called "urban terrorists" in France, Germany, Italy, and Spain - along with lessons from Greece and the Netherlands - the article examines efforts to achieve deterrence by denial of nonstate actors. Even under the constraints of law in highly evolved criminal-justice systems, the affected governments often were successful in employing both conciliatory and coercive measures to deny the urban terrorists popular sympathy, ability to remain at large, communications while in custody, financial resources, crossborder support, and recruitment of new members. These measures, along with changes in the political and social environment, combined to neutralize the threat from urban terrorism in most of the countries studied.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: National Institute for Public Policy, Fairfax, Virginia, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2007

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