Thursday, March 09, 2006

What Motivates The Terrorists?

Belmont Club has a great post today about the "deprogramming" of terrorist cell members in places like the UK and Australia. BC compares Australia's current efforts with those of Colonel Ed Landsdale, an American who worked in the Philippines counterinsurgency campaign in the 1950s.

I have been told that Landsdales efforts in the Philippines helped inspire the classic Novel The Ugly American.

The idea of terror as cult is an interesting one, and is often cited in media accounts of suicide bombers in places like Israel. In his book Dying to Win, however, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape argues strongly against the cult analogy. Based on his analysis, people employing terror (especially suicide terror tactics) are instead grassroots activists being harnessed by political groups to achieve strategic political effects. He cites the secular backgrounds of perpetrators of many of the most infamous suicide terror campaigns over the past three decades to support his argument.

Do a little reading on both schools of thought (ie don't be like Mr Bennish) if you want to get some interesting perspectives on what terrorism is all about, and what motivates suicide terrorists in particular.

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