About the Motives of the Terrorists
People turn into terrorism through diverse approaches, in divergent roles, and with different motives. Borum defines motive as a sentiment, aspiration, physiological need, or such an urge that provokes one to act (Borum, 2004: 24). The motives of terrorists are determined by various factors among them the psychology of the individual and the sociology of the group dynamics. In line with the continuing endeavor to properly comprehend the basis, motivations, and determinants of terrorists’ behavior, this paper considers what is more significant in influencing the terrorists’ intentions between the psychology of the individual and the sociological impact of the group.
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The psychology of the individual view is rooted in the view that aggression and violence are inborn and are a natural response to frustrations accumulated over time. The motive to undertake terrorist activities can be motivated by the feeling of boredom and the spirit of action-packed adventure. This is true of young people who become members of various terrorist groups. The psychology of the individual is evident in situations where an individual might have some brain dysfunction which may lead to general hang-ups and/or emotional volatility which in turn leads to aggressive acts of violence.
The view of mental imbalances is inconsistent with reality given the amount of precision and accuracy necessary in the strategic planning and execution of terrorist plans (Borum, 2004: 11). Terrorist activities are seen as an individual’s response to injustices, with vengeance exhibited in terror acts being seen as a chance to get personal remedial justice. The psychology of the individual is said to influence the motives of a terrorist because violence is viewed as an inborn and intuitive human aspect that is tied to the normal track of individual development.
A report by the Federal Research Division indicates that efforts to elucidate terrorism entirely in psychological requisites disregard the very genuine economic, political, and social issues that have constantly aggravated fundamental advocates, as well as the likelihood that genetic or physiological components may play a role in pushing an individual to the position of carrying out terrorist activities. This is where the sociological impact of the group also comes into play (Federal Research Division, 1999: 23).
The sociology of the group plays a crucial part in influencing terrorist motives in that though an individual may have the yearning to conduct terror acts he or she will need the support which is offered by the group dynamics. The group dynamics are relevant in explaining the motives of terrorists in that they offer a sense of belonging and protection, offer rewards in form of salaries as well as give a social status to the members which they lacked before joining the group.
From the discussion, it emerges that the two terrorists’ motives determining forces-the psychology of the individual and the sociological impact of the group- are complementary and work for hand in hand. None of them can single-handedly be said to determine the course of terrorist activities or have more influence in the absence of the other. A terrorist group allows action, sense of belonging and social status for an individual with the right psychological attributes to conduct terrorist attacks.
Federal Research Division, The Sociology, and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes A Terrorist and Why? A Report Prepared under an Interagency Agreement by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1999.
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Randy, Borum. Psychology of Terrorism, Tampa: University of South Florida. 2004.