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Questions:1. What are the root causes of terrorism? What events in recent Middle Eastern history have fostered it?2. How do terrorists justify terrorism in ethical/moral terms? Is there any evidence that terrorists can be rehabilitated and should we try?3. In what ways do the technologies and processes associated with globalization weaken our defenses against terrorism? Is technology and globalization partially responsible for terrorism?Reading:Gaines, Lary, and Kappeler, Victor. (2011). Homeland Security. Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.Comments and Reading SumsTerrorismThe text does a pretty good job in discussing the most critical factors related to the development of terrorism and terrorists. Here are some notes that I have complied (and clearly overlap with the book):Terrorism experts believe we have entered a “fourth wave” of terrorism, motivated by religious and cultural differences– Fanaticism rather than political interests are the current dominant factor– Terrorists today seek destruction and killing as ends in themselves– They feel morally justified to carry out holy war– They are compelled to attack symbols of modern states– Religious cults are subject to cults of personalitySome additional key points:– Social and cultural changes are clearly linked to today’s threat– Radical Islam most notably is on the defensive against foreign secular forces and modernization– Many opine that the intrusion of Western values, through globalization, is an alternative explanation to the current terrorist threat; traditional ways of life are threatened– States have shied away from directly supporting terrorism, but many still provide indirect support, to include Saudi Arabia– Al Qaeda has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to its mission and environment– Al Qaeda has a distributed network; its followers are guided by Osama Bin Laden’s message, but often carry out acts of terrorism independently– Technology has provided unprecedented opportunities for terrorists, both in terms of weaponry and organization/operationsThe week’s readings in the text and on radicalization do an excellent job in explaining why “unremarkable” individuals can become radical jihadists and the influences found in a Western society. A study done by the Federal Research Division, summarized below, provides further details.Federal Research Division. The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism, General hypotheses of terrorism, the psychology of the terrorist, and terrorist profiling:-There are several psychological theories on what causes individuals to engage in terrorism– Frustration aggression hypothesis posits that deprivation and the inability to advance lead to frustration and terrorist activity; an over-simplified explanation– Negative identity hypothesis – the lack of alternatives leads to an identity negative to societal norms– Narcissistic rage hypothesis – focus on an outside enemy to blame for own inadequacies and weaknesses– In terms of terrorist motivations– Attempts to define why an individual becomes a terrorist have been unsuccessful– Explaining terrorism in psychological terms falls short; the sociology of environment, to include economic, political, cultural and other sociological factors are critical, and scientists do not discount the possibility of biological and physiological variables.– It has been difficult to study the terrorist mindset as access, and willingness to be studied, have both been limited-Potential group members join for the lure of adventure; due to previous negative encounters with the law or government; or due to social alienation-There has been no evidence that terrorists are mentally ill– There seems to be very little profiling that can be done to predict who is or might become a hijacker in advance-The most potent form of terrorism stems from those individuals who are bred to hate; rehabilitation is virtually impossible as hatred is “in the blood.” Note that many “madrassas” in the Middle East take youth and virtually brainwash them into hating everything that is against the teachings of Islam, particularly the influences of the West.-West German terrorists of the 1980s were considered an exception to the non-pathological characteristics of terrorists; many were affected by the shame created by Nazi parents-The careful, well-timed planning that is often a characteristic of terror is not indicative of mental illness! Also, candidates for terrorist groups that exhibit uncontrollable behavior are not what recruiters look for.-Fanatics often see the world from a particular perspective laying at the extreme of a continuum.-Self-destructive behavior often stems from a religious or cultural context.Group Dynamics-Pressure to conform and agree with consensus, typical of any group, also applies to terrorist groups.-Groups also provide a sense of belonging and self-importance-Groups are similar to religious sects or cults-A collective group identity often takes over the individual identity-Group members often irrevocably sever ties with family and community; group members become a surrogate family-Groups get closer as danger from security forces becomes more intense-Action by the group relieves stress and makes groups feel they have a purpose-Taking credit for terrorist acts advertises the group’s cause and reaffirms purpose-Social scientist R. Bandura describes four techniques for moral disengagement:– Self perception as a hero or part of a heroic community– Group members subject themselves to a leader’s will and orders– Members minimize or ignore the actual suffering of the victims– Members dehumanize the victims (calling them “the infidel”)-Most researchers agree that terrorists do see themselves as liberators fighting for noble causes. Remember the phrase “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter”– A characteristic of radical Islamic terrorists is that fundamentalists consistently see themselves as symbols of Islam rather than as individuals– Can’t be treated as a system of beliefs or ideology (such as communism)– Fundamentalist traits extend to all facets of life – personal, political, family, etc.-Many Muslims find themselves caught between the moral values of Islam and the Western culture that provides for material improvement.-The fundamentalists, on the other hand, are often devoted to austere lifestyles, are idealistic, and may have inferiority complexes; keeping the old ways is not a self interest but a moral imperative (and provides a distorting lens through which to view the world)One last point – there has been a debate as to whether terrorism is a crime or an act of war. What do you think? My take is that certainly every terrorist act is a crime by its very nature. Most terrorist groups are sub-state (meaning they act without state sanction or sponsorship), so it’s pretty hard to say their deeds are an act of war, and certainly it is pretty hard to declare war against a group. But we really shifted how we respond to terror after 9/11 – the military assumed a much larger role as we went after groups in countries that had sanctuaries (either intentionally or because of weak governments). Because of the dissonance caused by this very basic question, the roles and responsibilities of our various counterterrorism entities (the military, FBI, DHS, etc) have been disjointed and confused.

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