Terrorist Groups’ Social and Psychological Origins
Terrorism is a complex social issue that requires multiple levels of analysis from interdisciplinary fields of psychology, political science, and cultural and historical studies. For the theoretical framework used for this paper, the model of radicalization proposed by Webber and Kruglanski (2018) was applied, which lists the following factors: “(1) the individual need that motivates one to engage in political violence, (2) the ideological narrative that justifies political violence, and (3) the social network that influences one’s decisions along the pathway to extremism” (p. 131). These factors identify the social and psychological origins of terrorist groups. It is an interesting model which should be examined in the context of modern terrorist groups and their modus operandi in attracting support. Furthermore, it may be viable to consider whether the same framework can be effectively applied to the deradicalization of extremist individuals.
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As an example of ideological terrorism, the right-wing Neo-Fascist group Vanguard America (also known as National Vanguard) was selected. It is also a representation of domestic terrorism in the United States. Although the organization is not officially labeled as a terrorist group, it has been classified as such by many pundits and human rights organizations, particularly after recent events such as the attack in Charlottesville, VA, where its members displayed violence (ADL, n.d.). An example of nationalist terrorism selected for this assignment is the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), a militant organization in Pakistan that represents an ethnic minority in the country and has been in an ongoing dispute with the Pakistani government since the early 2000s. This group has claimed responsibility for a series of small attacks on Pakistani institutions and government officials (Droogan, 2018). For the religious terrorist group, Boko Haram was chosen. It is a militant Islamic group operating in West Africa and Nigeria. The group underwent extreme radicalization and has been responsible for a number of deadly terrorist attacks in the region, and has pledged its allegiance to ISIS (CNN Library, 2019).
ADL. (n.d.). Vanguard America. Web.
CNN Library. (2019). Boko Haram fast facts. CNN. Web.
Droogan, J. (2018). The perennial problem of terrorism and political violence in Pakistan. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 13(2), 202-215. Web.
Webber, D., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2018). The social psychological makings of a terrorist. Current Opinion in Psychology, 19, 131-134. Web.