Multidimensional Analysis of Religious Extremism

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Radical Extremism1Radical ExtremismBy (Student’s Name)Name of the courseInstructor’s NameInstitutional AffiliationDepartmentDate
Radical Extremism2Radical ExtremismExtremism is a term that refers to religious or political fanaticism. Extremists holdradical views when it comes to politics or religion. Terrorism is a term that lacks a universaldefinition. It could be generally referred as the unlawful use of violence or threats especiallyto the civilians. Terrorists usually target and harm the civilians in pursuit of certain politicalor religious ideologies. In the contemporary world, terrorism has become a matter of concernin all areas of the globe. Countries are working together to end terrorism. Although there areseveral measures that put to end terrorism, it has become a challenge to eliminate itcompletely. This is because of the very nature of terrorism and the new characteristics that ittends to gain with time. It would be simple to end terrorism if it followed similar patterns.Terrorists of the modern day have devised ways of ensuring that they succeed. They seem tohave devised very advanced method of carrying out attacks such that it becomes difficult forthe police and other law enforcement forces to thwart their plans before it is too late. Tounderstand and deal with the problem of terrorism, it is important to understand the meaningof terrorism. As noted above, there is no single definition of terrorism that has beenuniversally accepted. Most scholars doubt that one will ever be developed. The definition thatseems to attract most acceptance is on Crenshaw in 1992 who defined terrorism as unlawfulattack of small groups of individuals in order to have a wider influence.Looking terrorism at practical terms, we realize that it involves small organizationswho are determined to use unlawful force so that they can bring about political or socialchange. Terrorist tend to live a life that is not only stressful but isolated. An example of anextremist group is the Al Qaeda and other jihadist groups that are affiliated to it. One may askthemselves what motivates individuals to become terrorists. Most terrorists, especially thejihadists are not afraid to die in the process (Silke 2008). In fact, they may aim to die bybeing suicide bombers. It appears that these individuals are ready to do almost anything forthe ideology the group that they are affiliated to be achieved. The modern nature of terrorismis not only advanced but also complicated. One can never determine who is likely to be aterrorist and who is not. Terrorist groups are recruiting people from almost any nationality ofthe world. Their techniques have become so advanced that one can no longer be able to tellwhat the nature of terrorism is like. In a nutshell, terrorism is dynamic. Radical extremismrefers to the process through which one is ‘programmed’ to be a terrorist. The process ofradicalisation us almost like that of programming. Just like a device will behave like it isprogrammed, terrorist devote themselves to whatever the will of the terrorists’ group is. The
Radical Extremism3reasons why people are involved in radical extremism is going to be the principle focus ofthis paper. Various researches will be critiqued to help understand this.Psychological Reasons for ExtremismWhen we look at the nature of terrorism, it is hard to consider individuals who carryout search acts as rational. Most people would be tempted to think that the terrorists are notfunctioning well mentally. The society teaches us that harming or killing others both wrongand immoral. Social norms call for peaceful coexistence among human beings. Therefore,individuals who seem to be gaining joy from the suffering of others may be considered to bementally unwell. Some of the terrorists, especially the jihadists believe that they are doing theright thing by killing innocent people. This may add to the question of the wellbeing of themind. It is not only the general members of the public who feel this way. Extensive researchhas been carried out to determine the mental wellbeing of radical extremists. Most of thisresearch has found out that these persons suffer from certain psychological conditions. Theseare mainly psychopathic and paranoid personality disorders. Most of the research that hasbeen carried out concerning the mental wellbeing of radical extremists has been borrowedfrom the activities of the past. Acts of aggression terrorist characteristic were observed evenin the previous centuries. Let us take an example of an activity of the past that modernpsychologists borrow from in an attempt to understand the nature of terrorism. After thesecond world war, some members of the Nazi regime were arrested. While awaiting to becharged, they were assessed by a professional psychologist. The assessment revealed thatmost of these convicts were power hungry individuals who did not have any human feeling.When analysing radical extremist, one may ask themselves what happens until aperson no longer has any human feeling. It is only such a person who would comfortablybutter people who have not wronged him/her in any way. It is only the discipline ofpsychology that can best answer this question. Attribution theory helps understand thechanges that occur in a person for them to become radical extremists. The theory argues thathuman beings have a tendency of viewing their behaviour as arising from environmental andsocietal influences while they tend to view the behaviour of others as stemming from internalforces (Jamieson and Flint 2015). Internal forces include personality. When trying tounderstand the process of terrorism and radical extremism, it is good to start by appreciatingthat terrorists are psychologically different from the normal population. Although they arepsychologically different, there exists numerous researches to show that most terrorists do not
Radical Extremism4have any psychological abnormality. An act of violence or radical extremism cannot be usedto conclude that an individual is psychologically abnormal. On the centrally, psychologistargue that most of individuals who are terrorists are stable psychologically (Ragazzi 2017). Ifthey were not stable, then it would be challenging for them to coordinate terrorist activities.There are several instances where psychologists have interacted with terrorists on aface to face accounts. Most of these psychologists have concluded that they found nopsychological abnormalities in these individuals. Although this is the case, this is not to meanthat every radical extremist enjoys good mental health. There are some terrorists who havevarious psychological abnormalities. Even in cases where these are found in a terrorist group,they are outliers. In other words, these are just an exception rather than the norm/ rule. It isworth noting that people who engage in terrorism come from very different racial, economicand cultural backgrounds. Due to this, there are different reasons that may influence a personto become a terrorist. This means that the factors that made an individual join a radicalextremist group may or may not influence the reasons why another person joins. Despite thedifferent background and nature of terrorists, research carried out in the last four decadeshave shown some common relativity in the background of radical extremists. It is worthnoting that becoming a terrorist is a gradual process. In addition, going through the differentstages of radical extremism occurs over a long duration of time. However, considering thecommon factors found by research in the last four decades would help to better understandthe nature of terrorism and radical extremism. It is not all of the factors that would benecessary conspicuous in the journey of every radical extremist. However, most these factorswill appear in every terrorist in varying degrees. The next section will focus on these factors.They will help understand the why some people become involved in radical extremism.Gender and AgeThere exists no scientific evidence to show that genetics may predispose someone tobecoming a radical extremist. The biological approaches that have attempted to explain whysome individuals and not others become radical extremists appears to be very flawed. Themost significant factors to consider when analysing why some people and not others becomeradical extremists are age and gender. There exist some important relationships between thesetwo factors and radical extremist recruits of many terrorist groups. When considering thesetwo factors, there is a very important finding that has been made. This is that most of themembers who are involved in radical extremist are young. The term young is here to refer to
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