Revenge, Religion, and Radicalism—A Terrorist’s Plight
The makings of a terrorist are multi-faceted. There are many reasons why ordinary people become terrorists.
Suicide bombers, mass shooters, and people who commit genocide have their reasons. Most of those reasons are born out of a deep-seated anger or revenge. It is not far-fetched to say that misguided altruism plays a part in terrorist acts. Self-defense and a radical view of one’s religion may also be used by a terrorist to justify their actions.
A terrorist’s self-view is someone who is innately good. It is this self-righteousness that often drives them to commit acts of violence and band into groups.
It is normal to have a certain minority in a terrorist group to become peer-pressured in joining their group. In the mind of a terrorist, self-preservation is a priority as well as the preservation and welfare of his or her community.
There is also a sense of desperation in their actions after being faced with limited options in life. Their enemies are often rival ethnic groups, nationalist groups, and/or an unresponsive government/international order.
With suicide bombers, religion is a common motivator, although self-harm, harming others, and the taking of one’s life goes against the core beliefs of their respective religion.
It is important to note that violence is not exclusive to a certain group of people, as well as a certain nationality or ethnicity. Nowadays, terrorists hail from different regions of the world.
A seemingly quiet suburban community can be the source of a terrorist act.
There are more and more radicals now who don’t fit the typical image of a terrorist. An example would be a woman in suburban Philadelphia with blonde hair and blue eyes who had plans of murdering a Swedish artist who drew caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
University graduates, people from middle-class families, and people with juvenile records are turning into people who wish to do harm intentionally on certain groups of people. We are talking about people who once had typical interests like listening to music, marrying the partner of their dreams, playing sports, or driving cars.
Young people who had a solid upbringing and a college education are turning into terrorists. Described as good-looking, bright, and likely to succeed, these converts have turned to violence to appease their pain and solve their problems.
Not only are young people vulnerable to being converted to radicalism, so are the devoutly religious, mentally ill, and thugs who need an excuse to commit violent acts.
Relationships play a huge part in the radicalization of vulnerable people. An influential person can turn any person into a radical. Infusing them with thoughts of propaganda can play a big part in the conversion process. They tell them stories of pain and suffering that people can identify with, for example, being subject to discrimination and persecution based solely on one’s religious beliefs can be a huge factor in recruiting members of a radical group dedicated to violence.
The Cycle of Violence
There have been many a story of victims of violence who have in turn resorted to violence to solve their problems. This is exacerbated by the lack of access to legal means of settling disputes.
This way of dealing with a problem is common all over the world. It offers a quicker remedy to the problem. However, the heat of the moment can sometimes drive a person to resort to a dangerous means of ending a problem.
The Repercussions of Committing Terrorist Acts
Children who have a history of terrorist acts often suffer a sad fate. When they become older they are barred from certain privileges. Where they can go and move is severely restricted as histories of their acts are embedded permanently in a computer or database. Flights to the US and certain countries are out of the question because they are deemed as threats to the country.
What’s ironic is that some of these terrorist acts are committed in their very own homeland. This makes the idea of living in the US so attractive because they seem to enjoy more religious freedom there.
Marc Sageman, a former U.S. intelligence officer, psychiatrist, and Maryland-based security consultant who has studied various insurgent movements stated that it is unavoidable for him not to identify with these groups when you are studying about them.
Even terrorists who are classified as lone wolves identify as part of a pack.
There is strong evidence that a terrorist feels a general feeling of failure in life and looks for redemption in violent acts.
Some would even say that the San Bernadino shooting in California was a case of workplace-related terrorism—a response to a personal attack of one’s worth as a person.
The volatility of one’s reactions to life situations makes it unsurprising for the recent trend of young people winding up in terrorist groups. Recruiters prey on vulnerable people who feel victimized by society.
Furthermore, more and more young people nowadays have a void of purpose in their life. This makes radical groups so attractive.
An influential leader’s ideology can quickly turn a person into a radical convert, because it offers a quick fix to a person’s most pressing questions.
When radicals band together, anything can happen. This is where ideas such as resorting to violence and terrorist acts are born. These acts can offer an answer to boredom and give a person a promise of paradise. It is up to the person whether to act on these thoughts or not.