A wealth of research in comparative politics and international relations examines how
the military intervenes in politics via coups. We shift attention to broader forms of
military involvement in politics beyond coups and claim that terrorist violence and the
threat of terror attacks provide a window of opportunity for military intervention,
without taking full control of state institutions. We highlight two mechanisms through
which terrorism influences military involvement in politics: (1) government authorities
demand military expertise to fight terrorism and strengthen national security and “pull”
the armed forces into politics, and (2) state armed actors exploit their informational
advantage over civilian authorities to “push” their way into politics and policy-making.
A panel data analysis shows that domestic terror attacks and perceived threats from
domestic and transnational terrorist organizations increase military involvement in
politics. We illustrate the theoretical mechanisms with the cases of France (1995–1998
and 2015–2016) and Algeria (1989–1992).