Document Type

Honors Project On-Campus Access Only


This paper also won Second Place in the category for Senior Thesis in the 2016 Minnesota Economic Association Undergraduate Student Paper Contest. The advisor was Professor Gary Krueger.


The United States has spent over a trillion dollars battling terror organizations in the Middle East. The weapon of choice: air strikes and missiles launched from remotely piloted drones. These precision weapons strike individual terrorists or assets without the cost, complexity, or risk of deploying ground forces. The expansion, persistence, and lethality of the Islamic State movement highlights the need for terrorism policy backed by empirical evidence. I combine data from Yemen, where nearly all air strikes target Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), with a time series of AQAP attacks to determine whether or not aerial attacks are an effective tool for battling terrorism. Multiple VAR specifications fail to show a decline in terror activity after an air strike, and, in fact, some support the notion that the strikes are increasing the local prevalence of the targeted groups.



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