How would you explain the inspiration of both politics and religion upon individuals that choose to carry out terrorist actions?

Discussion Questions:

How would you explain the inspiration of both politics and religion upon individuals that choose to carry out terrorist actions? Make sure to address both religion and politics and provide an example of each type of terrorist inspiration. The required readings by Gerges, Hoffman and Tarlow describe religion and terrorism, while the U.S. Army Military Guide to Terrorism in the 21st Century describes the ideological, social, and political spectrum including left wing, right, wing and anarchist inspirations, as well as indigenous, domestic, international and transnational categories.


Arguably, most, if not all terrorism is caused because of political or religious beliefs. Both have fundamental differences, but they are also very similar in ways. Terrorists like to hide behind the guise of what they are doing is the right thing to do, whether it is because their holy book told them to, or the person who was going to take power was a “bad” guy. Which ever they use as an excuse for their terror, is what they hide behind when they have a difference in opinion, religion, or political views.”A terrorist operation will often have the goal of manipulating popular perceptions, and will achieve this by controlling or dictating media coverage”. (A Military Guide to Terrorism). Terrorists want to influence elections by causing fear into the opposite political parties. In Madrid, Spain, 2004, there were train bombings just three days prior to the national election, which caused fear and chaos, causing people to not want to take public transportation to cast their vote. This mid day, rush hour traffic bombing killed 190 people and injured 1800. It is believed that these bombings were to influence the election. There was a right wing Prime Minister at the time of the attacks, in the hopes that this would sway votes to the anti-war socialist left wing candidate who would pull troops out of Iraq. Which he did shortly after winning the elections.Religion is a massive cause for terrorism. A study showed that half of all identifiable and active terror groups were fueled and classified as motivated by religion. (Military Guide to Terrorism). Religion and faith gives terrorists a very easy fall back for their violent acts. Their skewed views and misinterpretation of their holy books gives them an easy justification for the actions. It is easier to cause harm to people when you are being told that what you are doing is what God wants you to do.In conclusion, Both political and religious beliefs are an easy excuse for terrorism. They hide under the blanket of God, or in the hopes of a better political climate.


How would you explain political individuals that choose to carry out terrorist actions?

The ideology of a political based terrorist is characterized on a want or need to change the political climate of the current government. Based on the Military Guide to Terrorism, “political ideologies are concerned with the structure and organization of the forms of government and communities” (DoD, 2007). Based off that premise, if the ideas and beliefs on how to manage a country do not align with a terrorist group, then they will try to overthrow that regime by any means necessary. Leaders within terrorist groups have their own narrative and simply paint that picture in a way that they can make others agree with their train of thought. The government in place could be the best thing that ever happened for that region, but there are always those that think it can improve, and that they are the ones that can spearhead change. In other cases, the political group could be horrible and change should be warranted, so terrorizing not only the government but also the region is a chosen method to delegitimize the governing party.

How would you explain religious individuals that choose to carry out terrorist actions?Religious based terrorist attacks continue to be the trend worldwide. As stated in the A Military Guide to Terrorism, “religiously-oriented organizations account for a disproportionately high percentage of attacks and casualties” (DoD, 2007). In today’s understanding, religion can act as a framework for social identity, especially in war environments, where insecurity runs high and cultivates group loyalty (Gerges, 2016). Groups like ISIS instill in their followers that there is only one way and if they do not believe in that one way then they must die. It is not just western cultures they attack either. If there is a Muslim community that does not believe their absolutist ideology, then they try to get rid of them. ISIS is known for manipulating others to follow them based on a skewed interpretation of religion. Some people fall into committing these actions from either guilt, a great belief in their religion, or a leader who conveys these ideologies in a way that makes it seem necessary to commit terrorist like behavior.

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