Why Do Terrorists Commit Terrorism?

(New York Times) Peter Bergen - To try to figure out why terrorists do what they do, researchers at the think tank New America and I reviewed court records in more than 300 cases of people charged with jihadist terrorism in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001. I have also spoken to terrorists' families and friends and even to the terrorists themselves. The easy explanation - that jihadist terrorists in the U.S. are "mad" or "bad" - proved simply wrong. Around one in 10 had mental health problems, below the incidence in the general population. 12% had served time in prison, compared with 11% of the American male population. I found that the perpetrators were generally motivated by militant Islamist ideology; dislike of American foreign policy in the Muslim world; a need to attach themselves to an ideology or organization that gave them a sense of purpose; and a "cognitive opening" to militant Islam. For many, joining a jihadist group or carrying out an attack allowed them to become heroes of their own story. The writer is a vice president of New America, a professor at Arizona State University and CNN's national security analyst.

2016-06-16 00:00:00

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