The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why?
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC FEDERAL RESEARCH DIV
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The purpose of this study is to focus attention on the types of individuals and groups that are prone to terrorism in an effort to help improve U.S. counterterrorist methods and policies. The emergence of amorphous and largely unknown terrorist individuals and groups operating independently freelancers and the new recruitment patterns of some groups, such as recruiting suicide commandos, female and child terrorists, and scientists capable of developing weapons of mass destruction, provide a measure of urgency to increasing our understanding of the psychological and sociological dynamics of terrorist groups and individuals. The approach used in this study is twofold. First, the study examines the relevant literature and assesses the current knowledge of the subject. Second, the study seeks to develop psychological and sociological profiles of foreign terrorist individuals and selected groups to use as case studies in assessing trends, motivations, likely behavior, and actions that might deter such behavior, as well as reveal vulnerabilities that would aid in combating terrorist groups and individuals. Because this survey is concerned not only with assessing the extensive literature on sociopsychological aspects of terrorism, but also on providing case studies of about 12 terrorist groups, it is limited by time constraints and data availability in the amount of attention that it can give to the individual groups, let alone individual leaders or other members. Thus, analysis of the groups and leaders will necessarily be incomplete. A longer study would allow for the collection and study of the literature produced by each group in the form of autobiographies of former members, group communiques and manifestos, news media interviews, and other resources. Much information about the terrorist mindset and decision-making process can be gleaned from such sources. For transliterated Arabic and Persian names, the popular, rather than scholarly, forms are used in this study.
- Unconventional Warfare