Fundamentalism, Terrorism and Political Instability: Socio-Psychological Approach

Fundamentalism, Terrorism and Political Instability: Socio-Psychological Approach
Prepared By: Prof. Michel NEHME


The International expert meeting in Oslo in 2003 prepared by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs has discussed the Root causes of terrorism and came out with useful and valuable observations. Almost all scholars interested in this topic have used the Oslo observations as basis for their study and analysis.

The meeting in Oslo indirectly disqualified traditional claims on the causes of terrorism a position proclaimed by The UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the like when he has explained the problem of Islamic terrorism in terms of a “poisonous narrative” of extremism which is being fed to young people. But this is only a superficial explanation of the problem. What is it that makes young men susceptible to this narrative? Why are they drawn towards it, and why do they allow it to take such a hold over them that they lose all sense of humanity and morality?

It’s a mistake to simply label terrorism as “passing evil” or psychologically deranged. In fact, psychologists who have studied terrorist groups have found that terrorists tend to be stable individuals, not paranoid or delusional. What seems to make terrorists essentially different from others is their ability to “switch off” their sense of empathy in service to their beliefs and objectives.


Traditional Psychological Assessment of Terrorism

Though psychology is a methodical field dealing with the human mind and nature, when it comes to the study of terrorism is completely approximated in ambiguity. If what we understand about the human mind and the power source of terrorism is limited, it would be impossible to supply information explaining the fundamentals necessary to achieve a perfected understanding of terrorism and its command on the individual, society and the state.

Being conscious of terrorism is a complex proposition between our senses, our thoughts and our emotions. But the inner working of our sub-conscious is strictly vague in its output. It either supply a specific emotion to a specific thought or it radiates the emotional hum of our basic instincts of fear and anxiety inherited at birth. If psychic fears exist, they lie within the sub-conscious and radiate as a basic instinct. One of these instincts is responsible for our ability to feel the emotions of another because we could relate to other people’s fears. In these instances fear becomes a combined social and psychological phenomenon. It does not leave the confines of the mind for it remains a part of the whole. In many instances, fear generates energy that expands from the confines of the mind. This energy is manifested in human relations at all levels in family, fundamentalism solidarity, and social and political interactions.

Customary literature on the psychology of terrorism presents 16 hypotheses as potential theoretical explanations, subdivided into three categories: origin hypotheses, i.e., neural factors, cognitive need, fear of death, superego projection, sexual motivation, maintenance hypotheses, i.e., social learning, deprivation, personality factors, and consequence hypotheses, i.e., personal integration and social integration1.

The concern here is to bridge these categories and specifically to highlight the concept of fear in their imperative relevance to the understanding of the phenomenon of terrorism. I begin with the connection between fear and terrorism as form of ideology and from the outset I emphasize the irrational nature of separation and locate these two forces in social or interpersonal relations. Fear and terrorism as ideology do not exist in isolation. This discerning is derived from Freud's sociological essays. The essays in question are Totem and Taboo 2, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego3; The Future of an Illusion4; and Civilization and Its Discontents5. Freud is much concerned in these essays with matters of ideology for he attacked terrorism as an institution. He claims that terrorism distorted the picture of the real world in a delusional manner by forcibly fixing people in a state of psychical infantilism and by drawing them into a mass delusion.6

 Freud was at first reserved about the dynamics of fear, and during the middle phase of his creative years he was mainly interested in libido, i.e., biological urges, for libido, as a form of energy seemed to provide a scientific paradigm for psychoanalysis. He was even more silent about fear, for like love, fear did not fit into any of his theoretical models. Fear, not sex, was Freud's last hidden concern. He reversed his denial of the real and causal role of fear in human relations, especially when he speculated on aggression especially that, which is derived from fear, and fear as it manifests itself in the death instinct.

Fear as a pervasive reality in personal, social, legal, and political relations is self-evident. Then again, fear that is stemmed from pain is a necessary biological precondition for the preservation of the species. However, fear in the child allows him/her to recognize parental power. It is fear of pain that makes the child see his parents as not only powerful but omnipotent, and it also creates the images of the good and the bad parent, for that power can be used to heal and to hurt, to protect and to punish. Parental power can be compassionate and empowering but it can also be abusive and criminal: parents can overpower their children by enforced deprivation, indoctrination, physical torture and mutilation, and even murder.

In the fundamentalism realm, just like in the family, power and authority are derived from people's fear. Fundamentalism institutions, in any form, mean the wielding of power derived from the fears of believers. Absolutism, or autocracy, the ancient form of fundamentalism rule in which power was vested in a fundamentalist figure, or an institution could be either enlightened or tyrannical. In line with this and in the same practice, the abuse of power in the family, a ruling-class group or party, or the state creates the soil for the social and psychological creation of omnipotence claimed by the mighty on earth and attributed to the Almighty in heaven. In many terrorist organizations the central attribute of the deity is limitless power. Individuals can be powerful in many ways, but their power has limits; it is only God who is all-powerful, which brings us into the realm of terrorism and belief.


Terrorism and Value System

Fundamentalists regardless of their confession believe that faith moves mountains, brings about victory against enemies, and the word of God is mightier than the sword. Somehow next to the rude power of physical force there is the power of ideology and belief, the power of persuasion and indoctrination, of political propaganda, of image and opinion making, the power of demagogues and spiritualists that become the vibrant of the masses. Terrorism is one thing and its use is another. In the Arab world it is being shaped in the media and the meetings, and in ways through which the Arab masses can be manipulated.

As expressed by Sartre, individuals' basic project is to be similar to God. Arab's project to imitate God is acted out in collusion between the rulers and the ruled to result in mutually shared dreams, or delusions of omnipotence, contrary to reason and the limitations imposed by reality.

In many psychoanalytic texts, power is a descriptive, dynamic, and developmental concept. Descriptively, it frequently appears together with such social and political labels as grandiosity, super-control, self-importance, and terror. Dynamically, it is a mechanism of defense. Developmentally, it is assumed to be the most ancient mode of relating to oneself and others. Dialectically, with the widening of the scope of psychoanalytic theories, there has been a trend to apply traditional psychopathological entities to ideas and feelings experienced in the course of ordinary life. Thus, power is now every individual and group's defense at fear7.

From this perspective, the quest for religious power is collectively appealing to religious fundamentalists that some social scientists dismiss as irrelevant and insist on all side-distinctions between revivalist and fanatic or extremist fundamentalists. Such fundamentalists share the common objective of reestablishing the power of religion as the basis of recovery and strength to overcome fear and anxiety derived from perceiving the other as superior. Their central theme, which had developed into a core concept of power relations and authority thought over a century, has been given an explicit revolutionary logic by modern religion fundamentalist thinkers.

In psychoanalysis, power and fear are a joint formation of the individual called the Rat Man and his parents. According to Freud,8 whenever the individual is raged at his father, the Rat Man, i.e., the individual would succumb to the obsessional belief in the omnipotence of his/her wishes so that evils would be bound to come upon his father. This exemplifies the relationship between individuals and the state. Again, the individual comes to a shaky belief in the omnipotence of his thoughts and feelings, whether good or evil, and a doubt in the omnipotence of his love and his hatred that is independent of his parents and thus the latter is not to be blamed9. The twofold ways Freud has with omnipotence as a concept is that it does not stand by itself, like a thing; it is an empty vessel that has to be filled with some content, such as the belief in the omnipotence of thought, or, as here, the omnipotence of love and hatred. On the other hand, Freud is inclined to assume that this idea of omnipotence is a delusion10, and to explain it as a historical object of the old megalomania of infancy11.

Freud, as it seems, was not positively sure of the possibility that such attitude of omnipotence could have been a product of a specific power interaction between the Rat Man and his parents.

The feeling of fundamentalism omnipotence is probably a throwback to the stage of child-development. It is characterized by a continuation of reluctance by the child to avoid a state of inhibiting, postponing, reflecting thought activity between wishing and acting12. Then again, the individual is never quite satisfied with this feeling of omnipotence. The source of this is due to the apparent delusion of omnipotence in the mother-child relationship. Originally, as indicated in psychology, omnipotence is a feeling that one has because it is what he desires. It is created by life in the womb and as such it is not an empty delusion. The problem arises unconsciously on the basis for subsequent repeated demands for the return of a state that once existed13.The newborn spends all his life longing to regain this situation of being protected. The substitute is found in institutions like fundamentalist societies, political parties, or the state.


Terrorism and Leadership

Leaders of fundamentalism sometimes develop the personality of a good nurse, feeling herself into the soul of the newly born baby. The infant will aid accordingly to replicate the warmth and comfort of the uterine paradise lost. When such is non-rewarding, the individual will realize it in the form of a wish-fulfilling hallucination, creating within his mind the feeling state of a magical-hallucinatory omnipotence. The latter then gives rise to magic signals, at the dictation of which the satisfaction promptly arrives.

In simple terms, the subjective feeling of the individual may be compared to that of a real magician in seeking of omnipotence by the help of magic gestures14. The analogy of magic suggested here are the constant needs of individuals to be loved. To be the center of the universe is the natural emotional state of all individuals, therefore it is not a mania but an actual fact. The disappointment in love that comes through punishments, through a harsh tone of voice, and threats has in every case a traumatic effect. It may be assumed that splitting of personality, whether apparent or not, occurs as a result. The individual has to adapt him/herself and thus lingers for a shorter or longer period in the hallucination: nothing has happened, I am still loved the same as before, God loves me and protects me and gives me power. This is a manifestation of hallucinatory omnipotence. All subsequent disappointments, later on in one's love life, may well regress to the so-called wish- striving-fulfillment15.

The individual is always in group and is always fearful of the power of his thoughts and wishes to destroy his family, i.e., his group, feeling correspondingly guilty, and thus the individual is convinced, Freud said, of the omnipotence of his love and his hatred. His love and rather his hatred are in many instances overpowering for the individual. Being lost in his emotions of love and hatred, the individual falls victim to the creation of his/her own obsessional thoughts, of which he could not understand the origin and against which he strove in vain to defend himself16.

This analogy could be extended to fundamentalism behavior in the sense that individuals are known for their momentous reverse. Not unlike the primitive man, against whose irrational beliefs Freud was criticizing, Individuals exchange the structural conditions of their mind into the external world17, that is, to life in society, suggesting an evolutionary sequence. That is to say, at the animistic stage, individuals ascribe omnipotence to themselves, and at the fundamentalism stage they transfer it to the gods but do not seriously abandon it themselves, for they reserve the power of influencing the gods in a variety of ways according to their wishes.

Most individuals have the tendency to assimilate the power of the act to the power of the wish, especially the suitable wish. On the same theme, Freud roughly depicted of politics and terrorism. That is why Freud realized the importance of power in the life of groups, masses, and the body politic and the dynamics of groups and their leaders. Fundamentalist’s leaders combine the dynamics of the power of the wish and the will to power. In doing that, they are faced with the nexus power of love, love of power. The need to love and to be loved in return is as powerful as the need for food and sex. Though only the last two were classed by Freud as drives, nonetheless he has asserted that frustrated love seeks compensation in omnipotent self-love and in acts of aggression, violence, and destruction aimed at individuals and societies. Terrorism, at times, provide justifications for such emotions and the normal human emotions of love, pity, and sympathy are destroyed in the process of dehumanizing the God-hated external enemy, turning him into a scapegoat and a target for the chronic rage.

By looking at terrorism, much work in this century has tried to deal with the subject as the prime integrator of society. These attempts have resulted in two sorts of dead ends. Either concrete terrorism provide unity for only a restricted segment of society, or the lack of a concrete integrating terrorism leads to functional conceptions of terrorism that make the argument circular. In simple terms, the implications here are that terrorism integrates societies and whatever integrates societies is thereby fundamentalism.


Terrorism and Group Identity

Despite what some hardline Neo-Darwinists may believe, empathy and compassion seem to be natural for human beings. It’s natural for us to feel for the sufferings of others, and to respond with a desire to alleviate their suffering. To become a terrorist means disengaging this natural empathy, so that a person can treat certain other human beings – the members of the groups he feels he is fighting against – as objects and kills them without remorse. It means seeing members of those groups as fundamentally “other” and refusing to connect with them. It is only a complete lack of empathy which makes it possible for one human being to behead another.

It is very significant that most terrorists are young men, usually adolescents. Adolescence can be a psychologically difficult period, during which a person becomes aware of themselves as a separate individual, with a sense of vulnerability and fragility. As a result, there is a strong need for identity and belonging. This is why adolescents often join gangs, and become followers of fashion or of pop groups. Belonging to a group helps to alleviate their sense of separateness and strengthens their identity.

But it’s also why adolescents are vulnerable to extremism. Belonging to a religion, and to a terrorist group within that religion, provides a like-minded community, supporting beliefs and possibly a family-like structure. It also provides status for people who may have little or none in a normal context.

However, perhaps the attraction of extremism to some young men points to a deeper problem. Below the shiny surface of the modern world, there is a crisis of meaning and purpose. Our social and economic systems encourage us to think of well-being in terms of shallow greediness. From the moment we enter the knowledge system in capitalist setting, we’re taught that the purpose of life is to be successful and wealthy. We’re encouraged to achieve and consume. If life has any meaning, it means “doing well for ourselves”.

The sense of identity and of meaning and purpose can be so intoxicating that it may make a person subconsciously prepared to disengage their empathy. And encouraged by their leaders and other members, terrorists use a number of techniques to do this. They de-humanize members of other groups, seeing them as a collective rather than individuals, and viewing each member of the group as responsible for the crimes of others. Morality is withdrawn from the other groups, and their suffering is minimized. The terrorists’ behavior is “neutralized” with the belief that the magnitude of their cause makes individual acts of brutality necessary and insignificant.

In going back to the OSLO meeting a main accomplishment of the experts was to invalidate several widely held ideas about what causes terrorism. There was broad agreement that there is only a weak and indirect relationship between poverty and terrorism. At the individual level, terrorists are generally not drawn from the poorest segments of their societies. Typically, they are at average or above average levels in terms of education and socio-economic background. Poor people are more likely to take part in simpler forms of political violence than terrorism, such as riots. The level of terrorism is not particularly high in the poorest countries of the world. Terrorism is more commonly associated with countries with a medium level of economic development, often emerging in societies characterized by rapid modernization and transition.

On the other hand, poverty has frequently been used as justification for social revolutionary terrorists who may claim to represent the poor and marginalized without being poor themselves. Although not a root cause of terrorism, poverty is a social evil that should be fought for its own reasons.

Another assertion is that State sponsorship is not a root cause of terrorism. Used as an instrument in their foreign policies, some states have capitalized on pre-existing terrorist groups rather than creating them. Terrorist groups have often been the initiators of these relationships, at times courting several potential state sponsors in order to enhance their own independence. State sponsorship is clearly an enabling factor of terrorism, giving terrorist groups a far greater capacity and lethality than they would have had on their own. States have exercised varying degrees of control over the groups they have sponsored, ranging from using terrorists as “guns for hire” to having virtually no influence at all over their operations. Tight state control is rare. Also Western democratic governments have occasionally supported terrorist organizations as a foreign policy means.


Terrorism and Religion

More over this Oslo meeting explicated that Suicide terrorism is not caused by religion (or more specifically Islam) as such. Many suicide terrorists around the world are secular, or belong to other religions than Islam. Suicide terrorists are motivated mainly by political goals usually to end foreign occupation or domestic domination by a different ethnic group. Their “martyrdom” is, however, frequently legitimized and glorified with reference to religious ideas and values.

An additional assertion is that terrorists are not insane or irrational actors. Symptoms of psychopathology are not common among terrorists. Neither do suicide terrorists, as individuals, possess the typical risk factors of suicide. There is no common personality profile that characterizes most terrorists, who appear to be relatively normal individuals. Terrorists may follow their own rationalities based on extremist ideologies or particular terrorist logics, but they are not irrational. By stating what terrorism is not we are left with the question of what causes terrorism.

The notion of terrorism is applied to a great diversity of groups with different origins and goals. Terrorism occurs in wealthy countries as well as in poor countries, in democracies as well as in authoritarian states. Thus, there exists no single root cause of terrorism, or even a common set of causes. There are, however, a number of preconditions and precipitants for the emergence of various forms of terrorism.

One limitation of the “root cause” approach is the underlying idea that terrorists are just passive pawns of the social, economic and psychological forces around them doing what these “causes” compel them to do. It is more useful to see terrorists as rational and intentional actors who develop deliberate strategies to achieve political objectives. They make their choices between different options and tactics, on the basis of the limitations and possibilities of the situation. Terrorism is better understood as emerging from a process of interaction between different parties, than as a mechanical cause-and-effect relationship.

With these reservations in mind, it is nevertheless useful to try to identify some conditions and circumstances that give rise to terrorism, or that at least provide a fertile ground for radical groups wanting to use terrorist methods to achieve their objectives. One can distinguish between preconditions and precipitants as two ends of a continuum.

Preconditions set the stage for terrorism in the long run. They are of a relatively general and structural nature, producing a wide range of social outcomes of which terrorism is only one.

Preconditions alone are not sufficient to cause the outbreak of terrorism. Precipitants are much more directly affecting the emergence of terrorism. These are the specific events or situations that immediately precede, motivate or trigger the outbreak of terrorism. The first set of causes listed below have more character of being preconditions, whereas the latter causes are closer to precipitants. (The following list is not all-inclusive.)

Lack of democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law is a precondition for many forms of domestic terrorism. The relationship between government coercion and political violence is essentially shaped like an inverted U; the most democratic and the most totalitarian societies have the lowest levels of oppositional violence. Moderate levels of coercive violence from the government tend to fuel the fire of dissent, while dissident activities can be brought down by governments willing to resort to extreme forces of coercive brutality. Such draconian force is beyond the limits of what democratic nations are willing to use and rightfully so.

Failed or weak states lack the capacity or will to exercise territorial control and maintain a monopoly of violence. This leaves a power vacuum that terrorist organizations may exploit to maintain safe havens, training facilities and bases for launching terrorist operations. On the other hand, terrorists may also find safe havens and carry out support functions in strong and stable democracies, due to the greater liberties that residents enjoy there.

Rapid modernization in the form of high economic growth has also been found to correlate strongly with the emergence of ideological terrorism, but not with ethno-nationalist terrorism. This may be particularly important in countries where sudden wealth (e.g. from oil) has precipitated a change from tribal to high-tech societies in one generation or less. When traditional norms and social patterns crumble or are made to seem irrelevant, new radical ideologies (sometimes based on religion and/or nostalgia for a glorious past) may become attractive to certain segments of society.

Modern society also facilitates terrorism by providing access to rapid transportation and communication, news media, weapons, etc.

Extremist ideologies of a secular or religious nature are at least an intermediate cause of terrorism, although people usually adopt such extremist ideologies as a consequence of more fundamental political or personal reasons. When these worldviews are adopted and applied in order to interpret situations and guide action, they tend to take on a dynamics of their own, and may serve to dehumanize the enemy and justify atrocities.

Historical antecedents of political violence, civil wars, revolutions, dictatorships or occupation may lower the threshold for acceptance of political violence and terrorism, and impede the development of non-violent norms among all segments of society. The victim role as well as longstanding historical injustices and grievances may be constructed to serve as justifications for terrorism. When young children are socialized into cultural value systems that celebrate martyrdom, revenge and hatred of other ethnic or national groups, this is likely to increase their readiness to support or commit violent atrocities when they grow up.

The experience of discrimination on the basis of ethnic or religious origin is the chief root cause of ethno-nationalist terrorism. When sizeable minorities are systematically deprived of their rights to equal social and economic opportunities, obstructed from expressing their cultural identities (e.g. forbidden to use their language or practice their religion), or excluded from political influence, this can give rise to secessionist movements that may turn to terrorism or other forms of violent struggle.

Ethnic nationalisms are more likely to give rise to (and justify) terrorism than are moderate and inclusive civic nationalisms.

Factors sustaining terrorism: Terrorism is often sustained for reasons other than those which gave birth to it in the first place. It is therefore not certain that terrorism will end even if the grievances that gave rise to it, or the root causes, are somehow dealt with. Terrorist groups may change purpose, goals and motivation over time.



Political scientists and intellectual observers are at times highly critical of psychologists’ contributions to terrorism research; they suggest two potential avenues for a more productive inquiry: “A, In-depth studies of the specific terrorist groups, describing ideology, motivations, structure, decision-making processes, demographic and personality characteristics.

B, Problem oriented studies cutting across time and places. These are basically comparative studies looking into issues such as conditions leading to escalation in the level of terrorist violence.

The study of terrorism should go beyond a concentration on current events or speculation about the future to develop systematic analysis of the development of the phenomenon over time. First, little is known about why the users of terrorism would abandon the strategy. Research should try to identify the psychological incentives for giving up violence. A second area for fruitful research concerns the development of strategies of terrorism. In particular, what leads to innovation in terrorist behavior, such as hostage-taking or the resort to weapons of mass destruction? Another research area that has been neglected is the study of decision-making in the area of counter terrorism.

What is needed is an investigation of the effects of different policies on a range of groups with different motivations, organizational structures, and social relationships. An additional research concern is the public reaction to terrorism. Last, the study of psychological motivations for terrorism, as well as for ending terrorism, should continue to be based on a model that integrates the individual, the group and society.

Future research ought to be designed and conducted to answer key questions of operational interest to professionals who work to prevent and counter terrorism. As indicated at the start of this article, in academic circles, the nature and extent of partnerships between researchers and government counter terrorism agencies is a matter of some debate. While there are reasonable scientific and professional arguments on both sides of the issue, the concern of this article has less to do with advancing the scientific study of the social phenomenon of terrorism than it does with the desire to understand the reality of things and work in the direction of prevention.

As a final note, there is the suggestion of making the study of terrorism maintain a behavior-based focus. When exploring the realm of terrorism, or other violent behavior, it may seem intriguing or even tempting to speculate about the personality or internal dynamics of the actors. These questions may have some theoretical or even scientific merit, but they are unlikely to produce operationally-relevant findings.

It is important to mention at the end of this article that information was taken from the below references:

1. Abdullah, S. (2002). The soul of terrorist. C. E. Stout (Ed), The psychology of terrorism: A public understanding (Vol. 1pp. 129-141). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

2. Adigun Lawal, C. (2002). Social-Psychological considerations in the emergence and growth of terrorism. C. E. Stout (Ed), the psychology of terrorism: Programs and practices in response and prevention. Westport, CT: Prager Publishers.

3. Akhtar, S. (1999). The Psychodynamic Dimension of Terrorism. Psychiatric Annals, 29(6), 350-355.

4. Al Khattar, A. M. (2003). Religion and terrorism: An interfaith perspective. New York: Prager Publishers.

5. Alexander, Y., & Gleason, J. M. (1981). Behavioral and Quantitative Perspectives on Terrorism. New York: Pergamon.

7. Ardila, R. (2002). The psychology of the terrorist: Behavioral perspectives. C. E. Stout (Ed), the psychology

of terrorism: A public understanding psychological dimensions to war and peace (Vol. 1pp. 9-15). Westport, CT: Prager Publishers/Greenwood Publishing Group.

8. Atran, S. (2003). Genesis of suicide terrorism. Science, 299(5612), 1534-1539.


End notes

1. Bellah, Madsen, Sullivan, Swidler and Tipton. Individualism and Commitment. McGuire, Terrorism: The Social Context. Allport, The Individual and his Terrorism. Allport and Ross, Personal Fundamentalism Orientation and Prejudice. Berger and Luckmann, The social construction of reality. Bergin, Psychotherapy and Fundamentalism Values. Bergin, and Jensen, Religiosity of Psychotherapists. Beutler, Values, Beliefs, Terrorism and the Persuasive Influence of Psychotherapy.

2. Freud, S., Totem and Taboo.

3. Freud, S., Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego.

4. Freud, S., The Future of an Illusion.

5. Freud, S. , Civilization and Its Discontents.

6. Ibid., 85.

7. BeitHallahmi and Argyle, The Psychology of Fundamentalism Behavior. Hexham and Poewe, New Terrorism as Global Cultures. Bruce, Terrorism and Modernization. Burke, Terrorism and Secularisation. Chaves, Secularization as Declining Fundamentalism Authority.

8. Freud, S., Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis.

9. Ibid., 234.

10. Ibid., 233.

11. Ibid., 234.

12. Ferenczi, Stages in the Development. Ferenczi and Jones, Contributions to Psychoanalysis. Freud, S., Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.

13. Ibid., 186.

14. Ibid., 190.

15. Ibid., Ferenczi, 1. 83.

16. Freud, S. , Notes Upon a Case of Obsessional Neurosis, 234.

17. Freud, S., Totem and Taboo, 91.


Bibliographies and other Resources

Andrusyszyn, Greta H. (2009, December): Domestic. In: Terrorism: A Selected Bibliography. Carlisle: U.S. Army War College Library, 17-18. URL:

EurActiv (2015, February): From 9/11 to Charlie Hebdo: The EU’s Response to Terrorism. URL:

EUROPOL (2008, April-): EU Terrorism Situation & Trend Reports (TE-SAT). URL:

Fairchild, Halford H. (2015, Fall): An Annotated Bibliography on Domestic Terrorism. URL:

King’s College London (2015): Homegrown Radicalisation and Counter-Radicalisation in Western Europe and North America. (7SSWM053 Reading List). URL:

Stone, Amie (2014, July): Homeland Security: A Selected Bibliography. (U.S. Army War College Library Bibliography). URL:

TSEC: The Terrorism and Security Experts of Canada Network (2014, May-): URL:

U.S. Department of State (2015): Country Reports on Terrorism 2014. URL:


Books and Edited Volumes

Argomaniz, Javier; Bures, Oldrich; Kaunert, Christian (Eds.) (2015): EU Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence: A Critical Assessment. Abingdon: Routledge.

Associated Press, The (2015): The Boston Marathon Bombing: The Long Run from Terror to Renewal. New York: Author.

Clarke, James W. (2012): Defining Danger: American Assassins and the New Domestic Terrorists. (New ed.). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

Coolsaet, Rik (Ed.) (2011): Jihadi Terrorism and the Radicalisation Challenge: European and American Experiences. (2nd ed.). Farnham: Ashgate.

de Koning, Martijn; Wagemakers, Joas; Becker, Carmen (2014): Salafisme: Utopische idealen in een weerbarstige praktijk. Almere: Parthenon.

Emerson, Steven; Investigative Project on Terrorism, The (2006): Jihad Incorporated: A Guide to Militant Islam in the US. New York: Prometheus Books.

Foley, Frank (2013): Countering Terrorism in Britain and France: Institutions, Norms and the Shadow of the Past. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Forest, James J. F. (Ed.) (2015): Essentials of Counterterrorism. (Praeger Security International Textbooks). Santa Barbara: Praeger Security International.

Forest, James J. F.; Howard, Russell D.; Moore, Joanne C. (2013): Homeland Security and Terrorism: Readings and Interpretations. (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Gage, Beverly (2009): The Day Wall Street Exploded: A Story of America in its First Age of Terror. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

التعصّب والإرهاب وغياب الاستقرار السياسي مقاربة اجتماعيّة – نفسيّة

ناقش المؤتمر الدولي للخبراء والذي عُقد في أوسلو العام 2013، بتنظيم من المؤسسة النروجيّة للشؤون الدوليّة، الأسباب الأساسيّة للإرهاب، وقد توصّل الخبراء خلال المؤتمر إلى ملاحظات قيّمة ومفيدة، واستعان الباحثون المهتمّون كلّهم بهذا الموضوع بالملاحظات التي تمّ التوصّل إليها في أوسلو كأساس لدراساتهم وتحليلاتهم.

وقد استبعد اللقاء في أوسلو بشكل فوري المزاعم التقليديّة حول أسباب الإرهاب والتي أدلى بها رئيس الوزراء البريطاني دايفد كاميرون حين شرح مشكلة الإرهاب الإسلامي على أنّها أفكار مسمومة ومتطرّفة يتمّ دسّها في عقول الشبّان. إلاّ أنّ هذا الشرح يبقى شرحًا سطحيًا للمشكلة.

أمّا السؤال المطروح هنا فهو: ما الذي يجعل الشبان عرضةً لهذه الأفكار؟ ولمَ ينجذبون إلى هذه الأفكار ولمَ يسمحون لها بالتحكّم بهم إلى حدّ أنّهم يفقدون كل حسّ إنساني وأخلاقي؟

من الخطأ تصنيف الإرهاب بكل بساطة على أنّه "شرّ زائل"، في الواقع لقد وجد الأطباء النفسيّون الذين درسوا المجموعات الإرهابيّة بأنّ الإرهابيين يميلون إلى أن يكونوا أشخاصًا مستقرّين نفسيًّا ولا يعانون جنون الإرتياب أو الهذيان. من الواضح بأنّ ما يجعل الإرهابيين أشخاصًا مختلفين عن غيرهم هو قدرتهم على "إضفاء" حس التعاطف لديهم خدمةً لمعتقداتهم وأهدافهم.

من المرجح أن تؤدي القوميّات الإتنيّة إلى بروز الإرهاب وتبريره بشكل أكبر مقارنة مع القوميّات المدنيّة الشاملة.

إنّ الأحداث المتفجّرة هي الأسباب المباشرة التي تؤدّي إلى الأعمال الإرهابية وهذه الأحداث يمكن أن تكون أعمالًا مروّعة يرتكبها العدو أو نتيجة لخسارة حروب أو لوقوع مجازر أو لانتخابات خلافيّة أو لوحشيّة الشرطة أو لأي استفزازات تستدعي أعمالًا انتقاميّة.

ومن المسلّم به أنّ محادثات السلام قد تؤدّي إلى حصول أعمال إرهابيّة ترتكبها أطراف متضرّرة من كلا الجانبين.

وينضمّ الأفراد إلى المجموعات الإرهابيّة لاسباب متعدّدة. البعض من هؤلاء هم مؤمنون فعليًا بقضايا هذه المجموعات وتحفّزه الأهداف السياسيّة والأيديولوجيّات، في حين أنّ البعض الآخر ينضمّ إلى ارضاء مصالحه الأنانيّة أو لأنّ الإنضمام إلى مجموعة قويّة مفيد لهويته.

دورات الانتقام: ردًا على الأعمال الإرهابيّة الشنيعة تشيع عادة الأعمال الانتقاميّة لدى أطراف واسعة من المجتمع.

إلاّ أنّ الأعمال الإنتقاميّة تنتشر عادة لدى الطرفين اللذين يحاولان غالبًا التفوّق على بعضهما البعض بالانتقام لإرضاء مكوناتهما. إنّ أعمال الرّدع لا تنجح عادة ضدّ المجموعات الإرهابيّة غير التابعة إلى دول معيّنة وقد تؤدّي الأعمال الانتقاميّة إلى نتيجة معاكسة بالنسبة إلى الرّدع لأنّ العديد من المجموعات الإرهابيّة يريد التسبّب بردّات فعل مبالغ بها.

قد تصبح سياسات الانتقام العسكريّة بمواجهة الأعمال الإرهابيّة حافزًا لارتكاب المزيد من هذه الأعمال إذ يسعى المتطرّفون إلى تقويض الاعتدال والتسويات السياسيّة.