Goals and motivations of terrorism
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  • 1. Goals and Motivations of Terrorism GOALS AND MOTIVATIONS OF TERRORISM Name: Grade Course: Tutor’s Name: (22 January 2011)
  • 2. Goals and Motivations of Terrorism 2 Goals and Motivations of Terrorism Motivation has been defined by psychologist as an interest, desire, want, or a needthat propel individuals in a particular direction. There are many goals that have been linked tomotivation. These goals differ on the ground that some support a biological basis for actions, orlearned basis for action. Just like any other action, terrorism can be analyzed based on whichgoal is more applicable. This essay argues against the goals and motivation of terrorism bygiving at five supporting points and one opposing point. In most circumstances, religion and social has been taken as a goal that motivatesterrorism. The series of attacks that have been made by Osama Bin Laden, and the Al-Quida as awhole, has been motivated by religious convictions. Such like groups are justified by believingthat, due to the religious commands given by the Koran, they are in a position of using suchreligious believes in recruiting more and more members. The Americans have been assessed by the Al-Quida group as being power hungry, self-religious and many prideful individuals. They have disagreed with what they with what is seen asbeing a center of Hollywood, immoral and the distorted community. In contrast to the objectiveof converting them to Muslim, they have an objective of just destroying the offending parts ofthe U.S community in the name of pleasing Allah. On the side of social causes, the Unabombermail attacks form the examples of this type of motivation. There are these who have wanted toalter completely the structure of the society depending on technology. For instance, Kazynski wrote that, he was involved in a terrorism attack, not on the basisof political revolution, not to overthrow any government, but to change economic andtechnological grounds of the current community. Unabomber have been holding believes that, it
  • 3. Goals and Motivations of Terrorism 3is much impossible for him to pass the message, as well as having a lasting impression in thepeople’s minds without any kind of violent action. Another goal that motivates terrorism is political achievements. Many years back,terrorism was being used in nations other than the United States, by individuals of thatcommunity, who were believing that, their voice was will never be being heard in any way apartfrom using a mean that will disrupt the oppressing government. Those who were leading certainideas or even certain movements, used to come together in a form of a rebel or militia groups,and start fighting for a political change, so that they are able to rid the society of a ruling powerthat is an undesired (Sidel & Levy, 2003). In most cases, they used to take over as a politicalpower by themselves. If such groups of rebellious terrorists were able to gain the support of the public ingeneral, then they had higher chances of taking over the control, as they will be having supportfrom the public in different means like financial and other material resources. When now we starttalking about the United States of America, it is much difficult to discuss the political motivationfor terrorists in the states. This is based on the reason that, the Legal Constitution of the UnitedStates of America encourages and protects the right to freedom of speech. The fact still remains that, for one to change what they believe in to be unjust, Americancommunity has endless chances of voicing opinions, on top of criticizing government policies,their leaders and other stakeholders all through, for instance, the use of media or throughreferendums. An example that has been used in most cases to show the relation betweenterrorism and politics is Timothy McVeig’s bombing of Federal Building at Oklahoma City. Thiswas considered to be a politically motivated attack on the government of America.
  • 4. Goals and Motivations of Terrorism 4 This was due to the fact that Timothy was voicing his disapproval, in the form of violentaction. This was based of the government’s practices in the stand off between Branch Davidiansand the federal agents in Waco, Texas. On the other hand, the intentions that Timothy had, werenot to gain control of government in any way, only showing his disapproval on the policy thatthe government had taken. In support, the fact has remained that, there have been very fewoccasions of radical groups attempting to take over political power of the American government. Another goal that has been used to motivate terrorism is change. As earlier noted,all practices of terrorism are in one way or the other, motivated by the attainment of a goal. Mostpeople in groups or individually do concur that, the use of violent actions as a way of compulsionis not good. . On the other hand, the minds of terrorists have the capability of rationalizing aviolent action against innocent individuals, as a mean of furthering their cause. The autonomousmorality theory by Jean Piaget provides some insight. The theory explains that, people are awarethat laws and rules are all made by individuals, and that they need to be measured according totheir intentions, on top of the results, and that, if laws and rules become unjust, there is still roomfor them to be changed if they become unjust. The believe held by terrorists that they are justified in their violent actions, as a way ofaccomplishing a more significant reason, like religion, social change among others is wrong.This is because, the apocalyptic life loss is unnecessary and a consequence that is too painful.The explanation given is neither justifiable nor convincing. They do believe that loss of life isnot significant, and the more the casualties, the better. Loss of life amongst their co-religionists isof less value, due to the fact that, these casualties will enjoy the benefits of the eternal life. Onnon-believers, whether they form the targeted groups or not, or collateral damage, deserve to die,and killing them is considered as a moral duty.
  • 5. Goals and Motivations of Terrorism 5 The Kenyan bombing against the US embassy, in the year 1998, inflicted casualties onthe Kenyan people in proportion to the personnel of the US. The backlash fear hardly concernsthese groups, as their objective is to make their enemies overreact over the issue, and as a resultwiden the violence. The next terrorism motivating goal is getting the attention. Terrorism has beenused as an effective method of attracting the attention from the eye of the public due to fearresulted from the practice. In many occasions, terrorism does happen without warning as well asrandomly occurring. As a matter of fact, this reduces the perceived control, as well as raising thesense of being helpless, being more vulnerable, and disequilibrium as well. As the randomness of terrorists attack increases, the higher the attention it will beawarded to (Bomru, 2004). This is based on the fact that, more individuals will look at it as beinga potential threat. A good example of such an attack was the Unabomber. He inflicted fear as amean of gaining attention from the American community. No sooner had he gained theirattention, than he used it as a chance of delivering his anti-technology message, by forcing theWashington post and New York Times for the publication of his manifesto. However, thismethod of attention gaining has been criticized as because, the fear in most cases in inflicted tothese concerned and these not concerned, while there are other ways of gaining public attentionlike holding peaceful demonstration. Revenge has been in the recent past the most motivating terrorism goal. Therehave been many circumstances under which terrorism as taken place as a mean of avenging whatis considered to be unjust or action that is offensive. For instance, McVeigh Timothy usedviolent action with the aim of getting back to the American Government over its Waco Texashandling (Schouten, 2010). Osama on his side, together with the Al-Quida group seem to be
  • 6. Goals and Motivations of Terrorism 6having a personal vendetta against American community, probably for its practices during andafter the war in both Russia and Afghanistan. The Unabomber targeted certain people that he used to associate with them in his earlierlife, like for instance, collage professionals and even core workers. This might be on the groundthat everyone close to him ostracized him. However revenge should be directed to the person towhom there exists enmity only. However, current terrorism practices are claiming the blood ofinnocent people. A goal that in all ways justifies terrorism is symbolism. One thing that is worthy knowingis the significance of symbolism in terrorism actions. Every terrorist action is designed in amanner that conveys a certain message. For instance, the September 11th attack had very specificmessage with it. The world Trade Center attack wanted other nations to lose confidence in theAmerican economy. On the other hand, the Washington DC attack either targeting the Pentagonor the Capital Building, wanted people to loss confidence in the U.S security agencies. Evenrandomly happening terrorism attacks shave their meanings. For instance “We can get youanywhere, at any time. There is no one to protect you” In conclusion, people have gained further insight on what motivates terrorist.There are these who have explained in prison like Timothy McVeign, who has given hisrationale over his bombing. On his side, Osama Bin Laden has been delivering messages throughvideo broadcasts seen over worldwide televisions, when calling for support. Being law bidingcitizens in the society it is difficult in understanding the significance behind what is beingclaimed by terrorists as justified reasons for terrorism actions. It is true that presently, the act isin the forefront of everybody’s life, and is an act that most individuals are struggling to
  • 7. Goals and Motivations of Terrorism 7understand. Although seeing it personally on a day-to-day life is not possible, but all of us areaffected by its far-reaching consequences.
  • 8. Goals and Motivations of Terrorism 8 ReferencesBomru, R. (2004). Psychology of Terrorism. Tampa: University of South Florida,Lisa, A. (2011). Motivations for Terrorism. Retrieved on 22 January 2011 from: http://www.mesacc.edu/dept/d46/psy/dev/Fall01/terrorism/motivation.htmlSantrock, John W. (2002). Life-Span Development. (8th Ed). New York: McGraw-Hill publishers.Schouten, R. (2010). Terrorism and the Behavioral Sciences. Harv Rev Psychiatry Journal. 18(6):369-78.Sidel, W & Levy, S. (2003). War, terrorism and the publics health. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 31(4): 516–523.Terrorism-research. (2011). Goals and Motivations of Terrorists. Retrieved on 22 January 2011 from: http://www.terrorism-research.com/goals/Weotem, W. (2000). Psychology: Themes and Variations. (4th Ed). California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.