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The root causes of terrorism

OK, I've been giving some thought, and I think I've got a handle on The Root Causes of Terrorism. Just why do people turn to terrorism to achieve their goals?

1) It's simple. It has an ease and ready accessibility that essentially any group, of any size, can pull off a "terrorist" attack with very limited resources.

2) It's flashy. Terrorism is "the new coolness." It gets a lot of attention, very quickly.

3) It's empowering. The one element that all terrorist groups have, at the start, is far more passion than power. They care a great deal about their cause, but they simply can't get anything done through more legitimate means. So they start getting violent, to increase their profile and extend their power.

4) It's deniable. If a government wants something done, but doesn't want to risk the backlash of doing it openly themselves, they can try to get some "terrorists" to do it for them. This way, they can stand back and say "tsk, tsk" when something bad happens that benefits them.

5) It's cheap. Modern weapons and training cost far, far more than an average individual or group can afford. But bomb belts probably cost less than a couple of hundred dollars to make. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols put together the Oklahoma City truck bomb on their average salaries.

6) It's tough to fight. A long time ago, a bunch of countries laid out a set of rules for warfare. These rules were designed to, among other things, minimize the number of civilians killed in war. In exchange for some serious restrictions on what combatants could do, large groups of people, institutions, and buildings were declared "off limits." The terrorists systematically look at those restrictions and use them as guidelines for how to best attack our forces.

Many people look at the terrorist attacks within the United States and wonder why it's happening. I look at the above and wonder why there haven't been more.

I realize this is only half a piece, but it's getting a bit long already. I'm working on a second piece, discussing possible ways to fight terrorism.


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Comments (15)

I'm reminded of how the Jap... (Below threshold)

I'm reminded of how the Japanese used Kamikaze pilots to attack Allies Naval Vessels. They were relatively inexpensive, and the best targeting system you could come up with. But, they weren't targeting civilians.

I'm bothered by the latest fatwa by CAIR that denounced "targeting civilians" for terrorist activities. Not that they denounced the targeting of civilians, but that they didn't denounce terrorism. I guess I'm looking for that kind of language in their public statements.

It is going to get uglier b... (Below threshold)
Jack:

It is going to get uglier before it gets better.

I would add another reason ... (Below threshold)
John:

I would add another reason or change #3. They get power beyond moving their cause.

I've always felt that some of the same motivation for terror groups is similar to US street gangs. You get to be a killer so in their circles they get to be importantant, even respected, or at least feared.

I've also felt that's why we don't have more terrorism. One is that our would be terrorist find an outlet through crime. Two is that our would be terrorists wouldn't be as welcomed our communities. We might fear them, but it would be a motivation to get rid of them and not to just cower to them.

It is going to get uglie... (Below threshold)
John:

It is going to get uglier before it gets better.

I don't know if its because I have a memory that's atleast 4 years or longer, but terrorism outside Iraq seems pretty tame to me of late. Especially how the second attack in the UK failed and now leading to captures and I'm sure many more leads to other terrorists. I'm not sure about Al-Queda's level of involvement, but assuming they had some part, this failure may not have happened if they were as functional as they were on 9/10.

Another thing is perspective. Despite the tragedy of it, if 50 people in a given year is all the terrorist can kill in the Western world, we have bigger problems to worry about.

4. It's a good way to get y... (Below threshold)

4. It's a good way to get your message out. After a sneak attack on civilions you can fax your claim of responsability to the ever read news media along with your list of greivences. because you have no country affiliation you can pick which ever people you want to blame however unrelated and their will always be a sympathetic left wing media to pass the info along without any real perspective.

Ie. bombings in Egypt due to the Iraq war, as if Egypt is helping at all in Iraq.

It also beats working for a... (Below threshold)
D. Carter:

It also beats working for a living - as long as you don't mind the risk of not living too long. Never underestimate the susceptibility of both (1) uneducated dolts and (2) over-educated sociopaths, to the siren song of "the cause".

Some are trying to understa... (Below threshold)

Some are trying to understand what motivates the terrorists. Wouldn’t it just be easier to believe Osama Bin Laden when he writes that it’s a jihad, a Muslim holy war against infidels, that is non-believers?

All should read Osama bin Laden fatwa August 1996 "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places."

Most religions sincerely consider their religion the one true religion. The jihadists genuinely feel that way and believe it is their duty to convert or kill non-believers, the infidels.

So Osama Bin Laden August 1996 fatwa includes “The people are close to an all encompassing punishment from Allah if they see the oppressor and fail to restrain him.” And “We ask Allah to bestow us with victory.”

Osama Bin Laden has grievances against the Saudi regime, but his grievances would be true in most all places in the world;
(1) “Suspension of the Islamic Shari'ah law and exchanging it with man made civil law.”

Link to the 17 page August 1996 fatwa is at http://felderlaguna.blogspot.com/2005/07/jihadists-duty-to-kill-infidels.html

Note: to those who blame George W. Bush for stirring up trouble with the jihadists, August 1996 was more than four years before Bush took office as President.

4) It's deniable. If a g... (Below threshold)
W. T. Sherman:

4) It's deniable. If a government wants something done, but doesn't want to risk the backlash of doing it openly themselves, they can try to get some "terrorists" to do it for them. This way, they can stand back and say "tsk, tsk" when something bad happens that benefits them.

Sometimes I wonder why this hasn't happened yet... If John Walker Lindh can so easily access a terrorist training camp, why haven't we managed to infiltrate some 'agents'- or even a suicidal "loony-toon"- into any foreign cells?

Tom Tancredo is obviously a "distraction"- ask yourself, "Why hasn't an 'Arabic- looking' individual walked into Mecca during the Hajj while infected with a genetically-engineered smallpox virus?"

The only response required from us (the USA) would be, "Prove it -with your 9th century technology...".

(7.) IT'S COWARDLY. Even ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

(7.) IT'S COWARDLY. Even bastards in undershorts can do it and then just runnn awaaaayyyy and yell about their "rights" if captured. Cowards.

About (5.), there's now inf... (Below threshold)
-S-:

About (5.), there's now information peaking through that suggests an Islamic involvement in Oklahoma City...just saying, I read recently that that exists.

(8.) It's easy for heroin ... (Below threshold)
-S-:

(8.) It's easy for heroin addicts! There's also information coming forward that a lot of the Al Quaeda "terrorists" are intravaneously indulging in Afghanistan's leading agricultural crop. Just saying, might explain a lot.

Drugs.An old tradi... (Below threshold)
epador:

Drugs.

An old tradition of the Hashshashin of the ol' Alamut sect of the Moslem faith.

No surprises there.

2) It's flashy. Terroris... (Below threshold)
Lizzie:

2) It's flashy. Terrorism is "the new coolness."

There's nothing new about that. Irish kids joined the IRA for cachet for years.

None of the things you list... (Below threshold)
Unfortunately...:

None of the things you listed are a "cause" of anything. They are all reasons why one method of attack might be chosen over another. But I fail to see how they are causes of terrorism.

People choose terrorism for the same reasons they choose to fight for anything. They believe in it strongly... and want to change the world to see things from their point of view. Unfortunately they have choosen a poor method of convincing people and aren't smart enough to realize that it only works against their cause.

Terrorism seems to be found... (Below threshold)
ryanA:

Terrorism seems to be found, often, in situations where oppression and desperation exist. Maybe the fact that people over there in Iraq lived under the regime of Hussein for so long had something to do with the existence of this violence? I have a feeling that might be one of the major causes, among others.

Hussein did as he pleased, spent alot of money on his military, and to hell with the people of iraq. he wanted to kick the shit out of iran one way or another, as well as get as powerful as he could, and in the process the country was decimated. maybe that left alot of people feeling pretty angry and hateful and desperate? not a good situation to be sure.

Look at Nicaragua in the 1980s. same kinda thing. Somoza was a real "son of a bitch", and he ran that country into the ground while trying to rule by force. No surprise that a radical and violent group like the Sandinistas sprang up in retaliation. Definitely a horrible reaction, but we shouldnt be surprised when terrorism is spawned by years of oppression.

in the middle east, where military dictators and other autocrats have run the show their way for decades, similar things have happened. now we're in the thick of the mess, taking the heat for how bad things got there.




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