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Why do people become terrorists?

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Postby TechJunkie on 16 Apr 2013 22:32

Why do people become terrorists?

a.k.a, Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorists:

Max Abrahms, a predoctoral fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation, has studied dozens of terrorist groups from all over the world. He argues that the model [that terrorist aim at political goals] is wrong. In a paper (.pdf) published this year in International Security that -- sadly -- doesn't have the title "Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Terrorists," he discusses, well, seven habits of highly ineffective terrorists. These seven tendencies are seen in terrorist organizations all over the world, and they directly contradict the theory that terrorists are political maximizers:

Terrorists, he writes, (1) attack civilians, a policy that has a lousy track record of convincing those civilians to give the terrorists what they want; (2) treat terrorism as a first resort, not a last resort, failing to embrace nonviolent alternatives like elections; (3) don't compromise with their target country, even when those compromises are in their best interest politically; (4) have protean political platforms, which regularly, and sometimes radically, change; (5) often engage in anonymous attacks, which precludes the target countries making political concessions to them; (6) regularly attack other terrorist groups with the same political platform; and (7) resist disbanding, even when they consistently fail to achieve their political objectives or when their stated political objectives have been achieved.

Abrahms has an alternative model to explain all this: People turn to terrorism for social solidarity. He theorizes that people join terrorist organizations worldwide in order to be part of a community, much like the reason inner-city youths join gangs in the United States.

The evidence supports this. Individual terrorists often have no prior involvement with a group's political agenda, and often join multiple terrorist groups with incompatible platforms. Individuals who join terrorist groups are frequently not oppressed in any way, and often can't describe the political goals of their organizations. People who join terrorist groups most often have friends or relatives who are members of the group, and the great majority of terrorist are socially isolated: unmarried young men or widowed women who weren't working prior to joining. These things are true for members of terrorist groups as diverse as the IRA and al-Qaida.

For example, several of the 9/11 hijackers planned to fight in Chechnya, but they didn't have the right paperwork so they attacked America instead. The mujahedeen had no idea whom they would attack after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, so they sat around until they came up with a new enemy: America. Pakistani terrorists regularly defect to another terrorist group with a totally different political platform. Many new al-Qaida members say, unconvincingly, that they decided to become a jihadist after reading an extreme, anti-American blog, or after converting to Islam, sometimes just a few weeks before. These people know little about politics or Islam, and they frankly don't even seem to care much about learning more. The blogs they turn to don't have a lot of substance in these areas, even though more informative blogs do exist.

All of this explains the seven habits. It's not that they're ineffective; it's that they have a different goal. They might not be effective politically, but they are effective socially: They all help preserve the group's existence and cohesion.

more...
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Postby pod on 17 Apr 2013 02:45

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

Terror groups are just gangs with smarter people and more effective weaponry. Your average street gang member is as dumb as a box of rocks and is only concerned about the "show" of being in a a gang, in addition to the sense of belonging to a group.

Your average terrorist is a fair bit smarter and more skilled. If it was the Bloods vs Hamas, my money would be on Hamas all the way.

Now, the failings of both is in the ego, their egos often get them killed. They both claim to have a code of silence, but in the end, their egos won't permit that, and that's what usually gets them killed.
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Postby norah on 17 Apr 2013 03:41

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

The IRA (Northern Ireland) and ETA in Spain are still active in Europe
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Postby slamminshaun on 17 Apr 2013 20:50

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

Why do people become terrorists? To fight the British.

http://www.infowars.com/the-u-s-governm ... errorists/

Alex Jones!
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Postby TechJunkie on 17 Apr 2013 21:18

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

slamminshaun wrote:Why do people become terrorists? To fight the British.

http://www.infowars.com/the-u-s-governm ... errorists/


The rich colonists in the 18th century who fought a successful asymmetrical warfare campaign against the British were advancing political goals. You could call them insurgents, but calling them terrorists doesn't make much sense, since they weren't attacking civilians in England. The more appropriate term really would be rebellion, or revolution, which are the two words that stuck. Our UK friends still say rebellion.

But the article that I posted, which is actually a few years old now, points out that the people engaging in terrorism these days seem to not only be terrible at advancing political goals, they don't even seem to care that much about political goals.

Conventional wisdom holds that terrorism is inherently political, and that people become terrorists for political reasons. This is the "strategic" model of terrorism, and it's basically an economic model. It posits that people resort to terrorism when they believe -- rightly or wrongly -- that terrorism is worth it; that is, when they believe the political gains of terrorism minus the political costs are greater than if they engaged in some other, more peaceful form of protest. It's assumed, for example, that people join Hamas to achieve a Palestinian state; that people join the PKK to attain a Kurdish national homeland; and that people join al-Qaida to, among other things, get the United States out of the Persian Gulf.

If you believe this model, the way to fight terrorism is to change that equation, and that's what most experts advocate. Governments tend to minimize the political gains of terrorism through a no-concessions policy; the international community tends to recommend reducing the political grievances of terrorists via appeasement, in hopes of getting them to renounce violence. Both advocate policies to provide effective nonviolent alternatives, like free elections.


But if terrorists are not generally trying to advance political goals, as we imagine, then that strategy might not necessarily be effective. If the real goal of most terrorists is to be part of something, then what should the counter strategy be?
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Postby TechJunkie on 20 Apr 2013 10:29

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

pod wrote:Why? Why did these two guys do this? They aren't your garden-variety terrorists. They had advantage and relative comfort in this country.


Take a look again at Bruce's article from 2008 on why people become terrorists:

Abrahms has an alternative model to explain all this: People turn to terrorism for social solidarity. He theorizes that people join terrorist organizations worldwide in order to be part of a community, much like the reason inner-city youths join gangs in the United States.

The evidence supports this. Individual terrorists often have no prior involvement with a group's political agenda, and often join multiple terrorist groups with incompatible platforms. Individuals who join terrorist groups are frequently not oppressed in any way, and often can't describe the political goals of their organizations. People who join terrorist groups most often have friends or relatives who are members of the group, and the great majority of terrorist are socially isolated: unmarried young men or widowed women who weren't working prior to joining. These things are true for members of terrorist groups as diverse as the IRA and al-Qaida.

For example, several of the 9/11 hijackers planned to fight in Chechnya, but they didn't have the right paperwork so they attacked America instead. The mujahedeen had no idea whom they would attack after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, so they sat around until they came up with a new enemy: America. Pakistani terrorists regularly defect to another terrorist group with a totally different political platform. Many new al-Qaida members say, unconvincingly, that they decided to become a jihadist after reading an extreme, anti-American blog, or after converting to Islam, sometimes just a few weeks before. These people know little about politics or Islam, and they frankly don't even seem to care much about learning more. The blogs they turn to don't have a lot of substance in these areas, even though more informative blogs do exist.

All of this explains the seven habits. It's not that they're ineffective; it's that they have a different goal. They might not be effective politically, but they are effective socially: They all help preserve the group's existence and cohesion.

more...


Boston bombing suspects wanted to fit in, friends say

(Reuters) - They dressed like typical American teenagers, enjoyed playing sports and strived to fit in after arriving in the United States with their family from the southern Russian province of Dagestan a decade ago.

The schoolmates, teachers and neighbors of Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev said they saw little sign of radicalism - or anything extraordinary - to explain why the ethnic Chechen brothers would allegedly carry out the twin bombings that killed three people and wounded 176 at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

...

More than anything, Dzhokhar wanted to be popular, according to those who knew him in Cambridge, home of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a city where students and academics mix easily with blue-collar workers and recent immigrants.

...

"I don't have a single American friend," Tamerlan was quoted as saying in a 2010 profile in "The Comment" magazine, published by Boston University's School of Communications. "I don't understand them."

...

Those who knew the younger brother painted a picture of a youth who bore none of the telltales of an immigrant: Dzhokhar had virtually no accent. He dressed in sweats and a sweatshirt. He did not hang with anybody in the school's Muslim circle.
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Postby pod on 20 Apr 2013 12:06

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

I'm socially isolated (you don't think I'm really friends with all those people, do you?) and you don't see me blowing shit up.
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Postby TechJunkie on 20 Apr 2013 12:24

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

Yeah but you're part of something, without having to blow things up.

The big-picture issue here is that if terrorists like the Boston bombers are motivated by the desire to be a part of something, rather than the advancement of political goals, then the country in general did the wrong thing this week in response. The enormous news coverage and the overwhelming law enforcement response both serve to glorify their actions. The next potential homegrown terrorist will envy and possibly emulate the brothers who captivated the whole country for a whole week. Not because they were effective at freeing Chechnya or advancing Islam or killing infidels or whatever, but because they were effective at becoming famous and becoming the envy of the jihadist community.

A strong, resolute, no-concessions strategy aimed at 'not letting the terrorists win' is ineffective against a person who isn't trying to win anything other than notoriety. If this theory for the motivation of terrorists is correct, then the appropriate response would be to ignore them like you would ignore a misbehaving toddler. To pursue them, but as quietly as possible. Unfortunately in a free society with a free press, it's not possible to implement a strategy of not rewarding them with attention.
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Postby pod on 20 Apr 2013 12:31

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

Actually the guys were tweeting on occasion before they realized the cops were serious. So yeah, attention whores. I can't wait till the first two-bit meme-reposting Facebook twat tries to blow something up to increase their Klout score. Oh joy. Wait, is Klout even in business still?

The only consolation will be that they'll fuck it up and blow themselves up in the process since they have the intelligence level of a dog turd on Biscayne.
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Postby norah on 22 Apr 2013 00:55

Re: Why do people become terrorists?

I think it is mostly separatist/ religion/ ideology at the center of it, look at this way

IRA - Protestants vs Catholics and hating the English
Jihad - Muslim fundementalism
ETA - They don't want to be part of Spain
Islamic insurgency in the Philippines - Same as Jihad
Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) - Maoist/ Communist ideology

Those are some of the ones that come to mind.
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