Headhunting among extremist organizations: An empirical assessment of talent spotting

Steven Windisch, Michael K. Logan, Gina Scott Ligon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


In recent years, terrorism scholars have proposed that more established and popular extremist organizations make pragmatic assessments of their human capital needs and modify operating standards to acquire members with advanced training and expertise such as medical, religious, or military backgrounds that may benefit extremist activities. To examine these claims, we rely on data pertaining to 105 extremist organizations gathered throughout the Leadership of the Extreme and Dangerous for Innovative Results (LEADIR) project. The results provide empirical support for these propositions by suggesting that older and more publicly supported extremist organizations contain membership populations that possess expertise, and these organizations also become increasingly diverse across demographic characteristics of members. We conclude with suggestions for future research that extend the study of extremist recruitment and provide recommendations for practitioners in terms of addressing terrorism prevention initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-62
Number of pages19
JournalPerspectives on Terrorism
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Extremist organizations
  • Headhunting
  • Human capital
  • Recruitment
  • Talent spotting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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