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Such poor countries are also often obliged to spend substantial sums on police control and national defense against neighboring poor countries, in which they employ local youth in low-level military jobs. The ratio of children to workers in the Muslim world is very high, especially because there are so few women in the labor force, so the actual ratios of children to workers are almost double the child to adult ratio.

Some research suggests that later-born children in families are more rebellious. This suggests the possibility that in a population in which many families have many children, the level of rebelliousness in the society may be higher Sulloway, ; Skinner, ; Paulhus et al. Unemployed young males with poor local prospects will feel angry and frustrated. They can seek a future in military endeavors, emigrate to take menial work, or become involved in criminal activity in a foreign and often culturally inhospitable environment. Sexual frustration may also be part of the picture. Marriage is often a high-cost matter in these countries because it requires substantial outlays for parents and elaborate ceremonies.

Religion: Crash Course Sociology #39

Young women have restricted choices in the local marriage market because of the male exodus and little hope of employment themselves unless they also emigrate especially if local customs deter them from entering the labor market. Looking at these demographic and economic realities, it is clear that the majority of Muslims in the world experience a high level of absolute poverty.

These poor compare themselves with the rich in their own societies and with an unrealistic view of Western culture gleaned from films and television, and thus they also experience a high level of relative deprivation. This combination is a sure recipe for social unrest in general. Insofar as these conditions are blamed on the United States and the West in general—as they typically are—they also provide a favorable atmosphere for supporting violence against these enemies, as well as a potential recruiting ground for recruits to this cause.


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To note this is not to argue that poverty causes terrorism, but that it is one ingredient in a volatile mix of causes. It is a reasonable historical generalization that those who are dominated—or who believe themselves to be dominated—by stronger outside powers come to resent and oppose their oppressors.

Islam in Europe: Clash of religions or convergence of religiosities?

Especially under conditions of imperialist and colonial domination, in which direct force is used against the population, this discontent can often be held in check, at least temporarily. When societies experience economic and cultural domination without direct military occupation and political control, the opportunities to express discontent publicly are usually more readily available. This rejection of outside domination is not surprising and can be readily appreciated. It is not as frequently appreciated. The other half is conveyed by the idea of ambivalence.

To bring the point closer to home, anticolonial ideologies are mainly negative toward the colonial powers. But they also contain the seeds of positive attraction. A remote but telling instance of this is found in the cargo cults, a widespread religious phenomenon mainly in colonial Melanesia. These movements, which were millenarian, envisioned the end of the world accompanied by the arrival of Western ships or airplanes loaded with tinned foods, transistor radios, and other Western items.

At the millenarian moment, too, white Westerners would be destroyed, and the true believers would survive in a world of Western plenty Worsley, Further evidence of this type of ambivalence is provided by the fact that colonial societies, once independent, frequently establish institutions and retain political and other values resembling those of their former conquerors.

A similar ambivalence toward the United States is now found throughout the world, including perhaps especially Muslim societies. On one hand there is America the demon, the rich, godless, morally and sexually corrupt, imperialist country that has come to its wealth by exploitation, a power that dominates the world and forms alliances with the ruling elites in their own societies, a nation that is hypocritical in its assertions of equality when it is plagued with racism and poverty, and the power that is primarily responsible for the existence and support of Israel.

Side by side with this, however, is a utopian America, as the immigrant communities of Detroit, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles typify. America is a place to come to, a place of wealth and consumption where the payoff for hard work is leisure and opportunity, and where freedom is buttressed by myriad choices in both the market and in the polity.

This positive side of the ambivalence, moreover, stands in stark contrast to what almost all Muslims can realistically aspire to in their own societies. Typically, it is psychologically difficult to hold both sides of an ambivalent attitude at the same time, and it usually is resolved by rigidly accentuating one side to the exclusion of the other. In anti-American Muslim ideologies this appears to be the case, with vitriolic hostility as the conspicuous and exclusive element and the admiration and envy suppressed.

Insights that. The complex of economic, political, and cultural penetration does not occur in a vacuum. It is always interpreted and reacted to in the framework of the cultural milieu it affects—accepted, altered, synthesized, or rejected, all in complex ways. An inevitable accompaniment of the process is the widespread perception that the domestic culture is under threat of extinction.

The reactions to this perception are, as indicated, multiple, but, in light of the religious character of much of recent terrorism, we take special note of what have been called revivalist or fundamentalist reactions. This variant of terrorism in particular has developed in the context of a wider Islamic revival. Revivalist or fundamentalist movements are efforts to restore an often-imagined indigenous culture, especially its religion, to a pure and unadulterated form. Their elements have been found in American Indian movements such as the ghost dance Mooney, and peyote religion Slotkin, , revivalist cults, nationalist movements in colonial societies, revivalist and fundamentalist Christian movements, and in some extreme Western political movements such as fascism.

The typical ingredients of such movements are:. A profound sense of threat, angst, and apprehension about the destruction of their society, culture, and way of life. A specification of certain agents who are assigned total responsibility for this deterioration. An unqualified, and absolute, sense of rage that is felt to be morally legitimate. A utopian view of their own culture and society—perhaps referring to an imagined, glorious past—standing in.

The historical picture in many Muslim societies is not different from this general pattern. The analogy is not between cults and terrorism as such, but between nativistic movements and Islamic revivalism, which provides a fertile ground for religiously based terrorism. It is also a religion with a proselytizing tradition and a centuries-long history of both conquest of and humiliation by Western Christian and Eastern Orthodox powers—a history actively remembered in detail in Muslim societies to this day.

It is, finally, a religion with a keen sense of infidels, both inside and outside Islam. All these features have conditioned the reactions to the West in Muslim societies, including the Islamic revival. Revivalist-like movements of a totalistic sort—i. Among these are the Safavid movement that eventually became the basis of the Shiite state in Iran. There were also a number of nineteenth-century antecedents, and the early twentieth century witnessed the rise and consolidation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its subsequent underground offshoots Voll, The widespread Islamic revival in contemporary times partakes of elements of these earlier movements but has added new and different ingredients Maddy-Weitzman, Some of these ingredients include: a It expresses the feelings of humiliation at the loss of the supremacy of Islam, the imposition of European commercial and colonial power, and the Euro-American domination in world affairs.

Its enemies are foreign infidels, non-Muslims in their midst, representatives of more moderate forms of Islam, and secular dictatorial regimes in their own societies. On the more constructive side, the goal of the revivalist movements is the creation of an ideal Islamic society, in which morals are pure and the community just, and all live in a state that protects a Muslim way of life, defends it against enemies, and aggrandizes the domain of Islam.

Revivalists regard this envisioned society as a comprehensive alternative to nationalism or capitalism. In the main, the movements are carried by self-declared charismatic teachers, ideologues, community organizers, and political activists. The followers are diverse, consisting of petit bourgeois bazaaris small businessmen, peddlers, craftsmen, and workers and maktabis clerks, teachers, and students and sometimes the professional middle classes McCauley, in press; Library of Congress, ; Maddy-Weitzman, ; Hamzeh, ; Sivan, ; Abootalebi, ; Alam, Some groups take the form of political lobbies and parties, and some have paramilitary forces Hamzeh, They constitute opposition movements to domestic governments, as in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, and Indonesia, or to foreign rulers or occupiers, as in Palestine, Chechnya, Xinjiang, and Kashmir Sivan, ; Alam, The revivalist movements represent a small part of Islam in general.

It is not difficult to appreciate, however, why Muslim terrorists have taken on the ideology of militant revivalism as their major guiding belief system. It provides a meaningful account of what is wrong in their world and legitimizes their extreme and violent political actions.

Rather, the presence of extreme Islamic fundamentalism, like the demographic, economic, and political realities found in most Muslim societies, is part of the fertile seedbed in which a particular ideologically based brand of terrorism finds a supportive audience and some recruits. We emphasize, however, that Islam-inspired terrorists are a minority of terrorists, considered worldwide, and that the vast majority of Islamic peoples have no connection with and do not sympathize with terrorism; this relationship is represented in Figure In domestic terrorism the terrorist organization typically operates within a state but itself is not a state.

In international terrorism, the organization may operate within the confines of a single state, but it typically involves a far-flung organization or network of organizations, operating out of the territories of whatever states will harbor, tolerate, or cannot detect it. The standard Western model of a state is that it is a discrete, territorially bounded, politically sovereign unit with a legal monopoly over force and violence, responsible for law and order in its domestic population, and the focus of the solidarity, culture, and identity of its citizens.

Regarding the panoply of states and other organizations in the contemporary world, we must conclude that the state is not a unitary thing that is either present or absent but is a continuum. The West still has many states that approximate the model—despite the intrusions of globalization on all states—but Afghanistan, Algeria, Colombia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, the former Yugoslavia, and Zaire, while in the United Nations as states, do not, for various reasons, meet the understood conditions.

In addition, whatever their approximation to the standard model, states have variable, not fixed, relations with terrorist networks. At one extreme there is the Taliban, which had supportive, hand-in-glove relations with Al Qaeda. Pakistan has had a vacillating relationship with terrorist organizations.

Egypt has allowed their terrorists to leave to fight as terrorists in other places but curtailed their activities radically at home. Finally, when Libya at its inception entered the United Nations as a state, it had almost no attributes of a state and has only slowly developed those characteristics. Since the end of the cold war, Libya has evolved more toward statehood and membership in the world. No longer a pawn in the cold war and facing internal threats from Islamic opposition groups, Libya is not now considered a major part of the worldwide terrorist threat and, indeed, actively collaborated with the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

To realize this double variability—of states themselves and of state-terrorist relations—is at one level heartening. Since all states maintain some kind of relations with terrorist organizations if they are in their midst—supporting, neglecting, opposing, suppressing—this means that foreign policy exercised through state-state relations has variable potential to operate as one form of constraint, albeit uncertain, against terrorism and terrorist activities.

We now shift from an emphasis on the broader origins and contexts of terrorism to individual terrorists in their group and organizational settings. We have already touched on background reasons for supporting or joining terrorism, such as economic desperation, political repression, and the ready presence of a framing religious ideology. We now turn to more immediate psychological motives, while fully aware of the slipperiness of this exercise. With respect to motivational profiles, work by Jerrold Post and others has suggested some similarities among members of given terrorist organizations, as well as some differences among the prototypical membership of different organizations.


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In all events, generalizations of this sort must always be tempered by the recognition that the composition of terrorist organizations is diverse and that well-educated and wealthy individuals are also represented, particularly in leadership ranks. More recent research on terrorists has rejected the idea that psychopathy is a key feature of terrorist motivations McCauley and Segal, ; Ruby, ; Crenshaw, ; Post, Leaving aside considerations of pathology or normality, the identity conferred by participating in a terrorist organization can be quite glamorous and appealing.

He sees his leaders as internationally prominent media personalities. Glorification of and personal salvation through violence is not limited to Islamic terrorists. Salvation as a voluntary martyr to violence or suffering has a religious history with roots in the theology of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as analogs in Buddhism. It is only because terrorists and their source populations on one hand, and target populations on the other, share these cultural precepts that such acts have the psychological impact that they do. Self-fulfillment through perpetration of violence also has a history, going back at least to nineteenth-century anarchists, early elements of Soviet communism, and some elements of the cowboy culture.

Similarly, utopian visions achieved through apocryphal transformation are not limited to Islam but are common both in mainstream and sectarian aspects of Christianity and Judaism. They are also found in cultures outside the province of the three major Near Eastern religions, although it is not always clear that they have appeared entirely independently of their influence examples are Melanesian cargo cults and the ghost dance of American Indians. For example, following the tremendous media attention accorded the Palestinian cause in the wake of the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics by the Black September faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, thousands of Palestinians rushed to join the terrorist organizations Hoffman, It is evident that joining a terrorist group is not related uniquely to any given motivational profile.

The search for identity is probably important, but so is the venting of anger, the power motive, and the glamour and aura of heroism and martyrdom—all operating in the context of situational opportunities. Why do individuals relinquish the societal values they have been brought up to cherish and adopt an extremist value system that may condone the killing of innocents?

Studies of brainwashing, religious conversion, cults, as well as of terrorist groups per se provide a likely answer. It has to do with extreme forms of group influence and social pressures for conformity. The objectives are to isolate the individual from other belief systems, to delegitimize and dehumanize potential targets, to tolerate no uncertainty in rejecting or even killing skeptics, and to adore a leader.

All these, taken together, create a separate, closedminded social reality at variance with the social reality of origin or the social reality of alternative cultures. In the main, the process does not involve isolated individuals who become terrorists on their own because their psyche is split or they suffer from low esteem and need extravagant compensation. Rather, it involves a group of true believers. Once in the grasp of the group, it matters less what motivation may have brought the individual there in the first place McCauley, in press.

An extreme illustration of this process is suicide bombing. Ariel Merari, an empirical investigator of suicide terrorism in. The key to creating a terrorist suicide is the group process. Terrorist suicide is an organizational rather than an individual phenomenon. The three critical elements in the preparation are boosting motivation, group pressure e.

One intrinsic objective for terrorists is the drawing of attention to themselves or their cause, not only among their supportive constituencies but also from the whole world. News of terrorists in the media and in public awareness is omnipresent. It is inconceivable to think of a public event—the Olympics, an economic summit, any official gathering—without worrying about security and the threat of terrorist activity.

The amount of publicity and literature devoted to terrorism in the past six months is unprecedented. The basis for inclusion was related to terrorism in both cases. High-casualty suicidal terrorist attacks on U. Hezbollah, or the Party of God, is regarded in Lebanon nearly universally as the successful vanquisher of the Israeli occupation.

Perhaps not coincidentally, 18 months after the slaughter of the Israeli athletes in Munich, Yasser Arafat was invited to address the UN General Assembly.

Globalisation and its disruptive cultural dimension

Attention to Islam and Muslim values and traditional Islamic ways is on the rise among young generations of Muslims worldwide. The interest in Islam as a culture is rising, and the call for reexamination of U. The preferred organizational form for terrorism is organizational networks or, perhaps better, networks of network-based organizations Arquilla and Ronfeldt, ; Kerbs, The Muslim population is the most rapidly growing religiously defined category in the world, doubling perhaps every 25 years at current rates.

These populations have been growing on an average of more than 3 percent per year, although fertility is declining in many of them Roudi, These patterns yield large families in which younger siblings in particular are likely to suffer from lack of parental investment of resources and emotional care. Such societies have few resources to devote to education, so their high numbers of young people cannot be trained to participate in advanced economic activities.

It is hard for such countries to guarantee employment for their youth, who experience high rates of unemployment, engage in criminal activity or gang violence, or must otherwise migrate to the richer countries, where they work in low-level jobs. Such poor countries are also often obliged to spend substantial sums on police control and national defense against neighboring poor countries, in which they employ local youth in low-level military jobs.

The ratio of children to workers in the Muslim world is very high, especially because there are so few women in the labor force, so the actual ratios of children to workers are almost double the child to adult ratio. Some research suggests that later-born children in families are more rebellious. This suggests the possibility that in a population in which many families have many children, the level of rebelliousness in the society may be higher Sulloway, ; Skinner, ; Paulhus et al.

Unemployed young males with poor local prospects will feel angry and frustrated. They can seek a future in military endeavors, emigrate to take menial work, or become involved in criminal activity in a foreign and often culturally inhospitable environment. Sexual frustration may also be part of the picture. Marriage is often a high-cost matter in these countries because it requires substantial outlays for parents and elaborate ceremonies. Young women have restricted choices in the local marriage market because of the male exodus and little hope of employment themselves unless they also emigrate especially if local customs deter them from entering the labor market.

Looking at these demographic and economic realities, it is clear that the majority of Muslims in the world experience a high level of absolute poverty. These poor compare themselves with the rich in their own societies and with an unrealistic view of Western culture gleaned from films and television, and thus they also experience a high level of relative deprivation.

This combination is a sure recipe for social unrest in general. Insofar as these conditions are blamed on the United States and the West in general—as they typically are—they also provide a favorable atmosphere for supporting violence against these enemies, as well as a potential recruiting ground for recruits to this cause. To note this is not to argue that poverty causes terrorism, but that it is one ingredient in a volatile mix of causes.

It is a reasonable historical generalization that those who are dominated—or who believe themselves to be dominated—by stronger outside powers come to resent and oppose their oppressors. Especially under conditions of imperialist and colonial domination, in which direct force is used against the population, this discontent can often be held in check, at least temporarily.

When societies experience economic and cultural domination without direct military occupation and political control, the opportunities to express discontent publicly are usually more readily available. This rejection of outside domination is not surprising and can be readily appreciated.

In collaboration with

It is not as frequently appreciated. The other half is conveyed by the idea of ambivalence. To bring the point closer to home, anticolonial ideologies are mainly negative toward the colonial powers. But they also contain the seeds of positive attraction. A remote but telling instance of this is found in the cargo cults, a widespread religious phenomenon mainly in colonial Melanesia. These movements, which were millenarian, envisioned the end of the world accompanied by the arrival of Western ships or airplanes loaded with tinned foods, transistor radios, and other Western items. At the millenarian moment, too, white Westerners would be destroyed, and the true believers would survive in a world of Western plenty Worsley, Further evidence of this type of ambivalence is provided by the fact that colonial societies, once independent, frequently establish institutions and retain political and other values resembling those of their former conquerors.

A similar ambivalence toward the United States is now found throughout the world, including perhaps especially Muslim societies. On one hand there is America the demon, the rich, godless, morally and sexually corrupt, imperialist country that has come to its wealth by exploitation, a power that dominates the world and forms alliances with the ruling elites in their own societies, a nation that is hypocritical in its assertions of equality when it is plagued with racism and poverty, and the power that is primarily responsible for the existence and support of Israel.

Side by side with this, however, is a utopian America, as the immigrant communities of Detroit, Brooklyn, and Los Angeles typify. America is a place to come to, a place of wealth and consumption where the payoff for hard work is leisure and opportunity, and where freedom is buttressed by myriad choices in both the market and in the polity. This positive side of the ambivalence, moreover, stands in stark contrast to what almost all Muslims can realistically aspire to in their own societies. Typically, it is psychologically difficult to hold both sides of an ambivalent attitude at the same time, and it usually is resolved by rigidly accentuating one side to the exclusion of the other.

In anti-American Muslim ideologies this appears to be the case, with vitriolic hostility as the conspicuous and exclusive element and the admiration and envy suppressed. Insights that. The complex of economic, political, and cultural penetration does not occur in a vacuum.

It is always interpreted and reacted to in the framework of the cultural milieu it affects—accepted, altered, synthesized, or rejected, all in complex ways. An inevitable accompaniment of the process is the widespread perception that the domestic culture is under threat of extinction. The reactions to this perception are, as indicated, multiple, but, in light of the religious character of much of recent terrorism, we take special note of what have been called revivalist or fundamentalist reactions.

This variant of terrorism in particular has developed in the context of a wider Islamic revival. Revivalist or fundamentalist movements are efforts to restore an often-imagined indigenous culture, especially its religion, to a pure and unadulterated form. Their elements have been found in American Indian movements such as the ghost dance Mooney, and peyote religion Slotkin, , revivalist cults, nationalist movements in colonial societies, revivalist and fundamentalist Christian movements, and in some extreme Western political movements such as fascism.

The typical ingredients of such movements are:. A profound sense of threat, angst, and apprehension about the destruction of their society, culture, and way of life. A specification of certain agents who are assigned total responsibility for this deterioration. An unqualified, and absolute, sense of rage that is felt to be morally legitimate.

A utopian view of their own culture and society—perhaps referring to an imagined, glorious past—standing in. The historical picture in many Muslim societies is not different from this general pattern. The analogy is not between cults and terrorism as such, but between nativistic movements and Islamic revivalism, which provides a fertile ground for religiously based terrorism. It is also a religion with a proselytizing tradition and a centuries-long history of both conquest of and humiliation by Western Christian and Eastern Orthodox powers—a history actively remembered in detail in Muslim societies to this day.

It is, finally, a religion with a keen sense of infidels, both inside and outside Islam. All these features have conditioned the reactions to the West in Muslim societies, including the Islamic revival. Revivalist-like movements of a totalistic sort—i. Among these are the Safavid movement that eventually became the basis of the Shiite state in Iran. There were also a number of nineteenth-century antecedents, and the early twentieth century witnessed the rise and consolidation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its subsequent underground offshoots Voll, The widespread Islamic revival in contemporary times partakes of elements of these earlier movements but has added new and different ingredients Maddy-Weitzman, Some of these ingredients include: a It expresses the feelings of humiliation at the loss of the supremacy of Islam, the imposition of European commercial and colonial power, and the Euro-American domination in world affairs.

Its enemies are foreign infidels, non-Muslims in their midst, representatives of more moderate forms of Islam, and secular dictatorial regimes in their own societies. On the more constructive side, the goal of the revivalist movements is the creation of an ideal Islamic society, in which morals are pure and the community just, and all live in a state that protects a Muslim way of life, defends it against enemies, and aggrandizes the domain of Islam.

Revivalists regard this envisioned society as a comprehensive alternative to nationalism or capitalism. In the main, the movements are carried by self-declared charismatic teachers, ideologues, community organizers, and political activists. The followers are diverse, consisting of petit bourgeois bazaaris small businessmen, peddlers, craftsmen, and workers and maktabis clerks, teachers, and students and sometimes the professional middle classes McCauley, in press; Library of Congress, ; Maddy-Weitzman, ; Hamzeh, ; Sivan, ; Abootalebi, ; Alam, Some groups take the form of political lobbies and parties, and some have paramilitary forces Hamzeh, They constitute opposition movements to domestic governments, as in Turkey, Egypt, Algeria, and Indonesia, or to foreign rulers or occupiers, as in Palestine, Chechnya, Xinjiang, and Kashmir Sivan, ; Alam, The revivalist movements represent a small part of Islam in general.

It is not difficult to appreciate, however, why Muslim terrorists have taken on the ideology of militant revivalism as their major guiding belief system. It provides a meaningful account of what is wrong in their world and legitimizes their extreme and violent political actions. Rather, the presence of extreme Islamic fundamentalism, like the demographic, economic, and political realities found in most Muslim societies, is part of the fertile seedbed in which a particular ideologically based brand of terrorism finds a supportive audience and some recruits.

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We emphasize, however, that Islam-inspired terrorists are a minority of terrorists, considered worldwide, and that the vast majority of Islamic peoples have no connection with and do not sympathize with terrorism; this relationship is represented in Figure In domestic terrorism the terrorist organization typically operates within a state but itself is not a state. In international terrorism, the organization may operate within the confines of a single state, but it typically involves a far-flung organization or network of organizations, operating out of the territories of whatever states will harbor, tolerate, or cannot detect it.

The standard Western model of a state is that it is a discrete, territorially bounded, politically sovereign unit with a legal monopoly over force and violence, responsible for law and order in its domestic population, and the focus of the solidarity, culture, and identity of its citizens. Regarding the panoply of states and other organizations in the contemporary world, we must conclude that the state is not a unitary thing that is either present or absent but is a continuum.

The West still has many states that approximate the model—despite the intrusions of globalization on all states—but Afghanistan, Algeria, Colombia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, the former Yugoslavia, and Zaire, while in the United Nations as states, do not, for various reasons, meet the understood conditions. In addition, whatever their approximation to the standard model, states have variable, not fixed, relations with terrorist networks. At one extreme there is the Taliban, which had supportive, hand-in-glove relations with Al Qaeda.

Pakistan has had a vacillating relationship with terrorist organizations. Egypt has allowed their terrorists to leave to fight as terrorists in other places but curtailed their activities radically at home. Finally, when Libya at its inception entered the United Nations as a state, it had almost no attributes of a state and has only slowly developed those characteristics.

Since the end of the cold war, Libya has evolved more toward statehood and membership in the world. No longer a pawn in the cold war and facing internal threats from Islamic opposition groups, Libya is not now considered a major part of the worldwide terrorist threat and, indeed, actively collaborated with the United States in the wake of the September 11 attacks. To realize this double variability—of states themselves and of state-terrorist relations—is at one level heartening. Since all states maintain some kind of relations with terrorist organizations if they are in their midst—supporting, neglecting, opposing, suppressing—this means that foreign policy exercised through state-state relations has variable potential to operate as one form of constraint, albeit uncertain, against terrorism and terrorist activities.

We now shift from an emphasis on the broader origins and contexts of terrorism to individual terrorists in their group and organizational settings. We have already touched on background reasons for supporting or joining terrorism, such as economic desperation, political repression, and the ready presence of a framing religious ideology. We now turn to more immediate psychological motives, while fully aware of the slipperiness of this exercise.

With respect to motivational profiles, work by Jerrold Post and others has suggested some similarities among members of given terrorist organizations, as well as some differences among the prototypical membership of different organizations. In all events, generalizations of this sort must always be tempered by the recognition that the composition of terrorist organizations is diverse and that well-educated and wealthy individuals are also represented, particularly in leadership ranks.

More recent research on terrorists has rejected the idea that psychopathy is a key feature of terrorist motivations McCauley and Segal, ; Ruby, ; Crenshaw, ; Post, Leaving aside considerations of pathology or normality, the identity conferred by participating in a terrorist organization can be quite glamorous and appealing. He sees his leaders as internationally prominent media personalities. Glorification of and personal salvation through violence is not limited to Islamic terrorists.

Salvation as a voluntary martyr to violence or suffering has a religious history with roots in the theology of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as analogs in Buddhism. It is only because terrorists and their source populations on one hand, and target populations on the other, share these cultural precepts that such acts have the psychological impact that they do. Self-fulfillment through perpetration of violence also has a history, going back at least to nineteenth-century anarchists, early elements of Soviet communism, and some elements of the cowboy culture. Similarly, utopian visions achieved through apocryphal transformation are not limited to Islam but are common both in mainstream and sectarian aspects of Christianity and Judaism.

They are also found in cultures outside the province of the three major Near Eastern religions, although it is not always clear that they have appeared entirely independently of their influence examples are Melanesian cargo cults and the ghost dance of American Indians. For example, following the tremendous media attention accorded the Palestinian cause in the wake of the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics by the Black September faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization, thousands of Palestinians rushed to join the terrorist organizations Hoffman, It is evident that joining a terrorist group is not related uniquely to any given motivational profile.

The search for identity is probably important, but so is the venting of anger, the power motive, and the glamour and aura of heroism and martyrdom—all operating in the context of situational opportunities.

Challenges of Globalization for Muslim Women - Oxford Handbooks

Why do individuals relinquish the societal values they have been brought up to cherish and adopt an extremist value system that may condone the killing of innocents? Studies of brainwashing, religious conversion, cults, as well as of terrorist groups per se provide a likely answer. It has to do with extreme forms of group influence and social pressures for conformity.

The objectives are to isolate the individual from other belief systems, to delegitimize and dehumanize potential targets, to tolerate no uncertainty in rejecting or even killing skeptics, and to adore a leader. All these, taken together, create a separate, closedminded social reality at variance with the social reality of origin or the social reality of alternative cultures. In the main, the process does not involve isolated individuals who become terrorists on their own because their psyche is split or they suffer from low esteem and need extravagant compensation.

Rather, it involves a group of true believers. Once in the grasp of the group, it matters less what motivation may have brought the individual there in the first place McCauley, in press.


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An extreme illustration of this process is suicide bombing. Ariel Merari, an empirical investigator of suicide terrorism in. The key to creating a terrorist suicide is the group process. Terrorist suicide is an organizational rather than an individual phenomenon. The three critical elements in the preparation are boosting motivation, group pressure e. One intrinsic objective for terrorists is the drawing of attention to themselves or their cause, not only among their supportive constituencies but also from the whole world.

News of terrorists in the media and in public awareness is omnipresent. It is inconceivable to think of a public event—the Olympics, an economic summit, any official gathering—without worrying about security and the threat of terrorist activity. The amount of publicity and literature devoted to terrorism in the past six months is unprecedented.

The basis for inclusion was related to terrorism in both cases. High-casualty suicidal terrorist attacks on U.