Crime and Terror: Examining Criminal Risk Factors for Terrorist Recidivism

Badi Hasisi*, Tomer Carmel, David Weisburd, Michael Wolfowicz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objectives: The number of individuals incarcerated for terrorism offences in the West has grown considerably in recent years. However, unlike the extensive literature on recidivism for ordinary criminal offenders, little is known about recidivism for terrorism offenders. Given that many terrorism offenders are to be released in the coming years, the Israeli case is used to explore possible insights into the recidivist characteristics of terrorism offenders. Methodology: Using a unique dataset of terrorism offenders from Jerusalem provided by the Israeli Prison Service, proportional hazards regressions were used to assess the risk of terrorism-related recidivism for first-time and repeat terrorism offenders by examining factors related to incarceration history and other background factors known to be relevant for criminal recidivism. Findings: The recidivism rate of terrorism offenders is higher than that for ordinary criminal offenders but follows similar patterns: sentence length and age upon release reduce risk of recidivism, while affiliation with a terrorist organization significantly increase it. For repeat offenders, recidivism to a new terrorism offense increases with the number of prior terrorism-related incarcerations and decreases with the number of additional incarcerations for regular criminal offences. While marital status affected recidivism of first-timers, it had no significant effect for repeat offenders. The effects of offence type for prior incarcerations were similar in the two analyses. Conclusions: Many factors, including sentence length, age, and prior terrorist criminal records show similar impacts upon terrorist offenders. However, others have opposing impacts. While prior criminality is a known risk factor for criminal offenders, recidivism of terrorists into further terrorism involvement is inhibited by prior criminal records as opposed to prior records for terrorism. Marital status, generally seen as an inhibitor of criminality increases re-offending for the first offender group. This might be explained by the financial incentives that terrorism offenders and their families receive from the Palestinian Authority.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)449-472
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Quantitative Criminology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Israel
  • Recidivism
  • Terrorism


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