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Publication(MIT Press, 2022-01-25) Brockmeyer, Anne ; Do, Quy-Toan ; Joubert, Clement ; Bhatia, Kartika ; Abdel Jelil, MohamedGlobal terrorist organizations attract radicalized individuals across borders and constitute a threat for both sending and receiving countries. We use unique personnel records from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Daesh) to show that unemployment in sending countries is associated with the number of transnational terrorist recruits from these countries. The relationship is spatially heterogeneous, which is most plausibly attributable to travel costs. We argue that poor labor market opportunities generally push more individuals to join terrorist organizations, but at the same time limit their ability to do so when longer travel distances imply higher migration costs.
Publication(Elsevier, 2021-01-21) Devictor, Xavier ; Do, Quy-Toan ; Levchenko, Andrei A.This paper analyzes the spatial distribution of refugees over 1987–2017 and establishes several stylized facts about refugees today compared with past decades. Refugees still predominantly reside in developing countries neighboring their country of origin. However, compared to past decades, refugees today (i) travel longer distances, (ii) are less likely to seek protection in a neighboring country, (iii) are less geographically concentrated, and (iv) are more likely to reside in a high-income OECD country. The findings bring new evidence to the debate on refugee responsibility-sharing.
Terrorism, Geopolitics, and Oil Security: Using Remote Sensing to Estimate Oil Production of the Islamic State(Elsevier, 2018-04-30) Do, Quy-Toan ; Shapiro, Jacob N. ; Elvidge, Christopher D. ; Abdel-Jelil, Mohamed ; Ahn, Daniel P. ; Baugh, Kimberly ; Hansen-Lewis, Jamie ; Zhizhin, Mikhail ; Bazilian, Morgan D.As the world’s most traded commodity, oil production is typically well monitored and analyzed. It also has established links to geopolitics, international relations, and security. Despite this attention, the illicit production, refining, and trade of oil and derivative products occur all over the world and provide significant revenues outside of the oversight and regulation of governments. A prominent manifestation of this phenomenon is how terrorist and insurgent organizations—including the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL/ISIS or Daesh—use oil as a revenue source. Understanding the spatial and temporal variation in production can help determine the scale of operations, technical capacity, and revenue streams. This information, in turn, can inform both security and reconstruction strategies. To this end, we use satellite multi-spectral imaging and ground-truth pre-war output data to effectively construct a real-time census of oil production in areas controlled by the ISIL terrorist group. More broadly, remotely measuring the activity of extractive industries in conflict-affected areas without reliable administrative data can support a broad range of public policy and decisions and military operations.