Theories and Ideologies of Terrorism

In Hudson (1999), it is explained that the types of personalities that engage in terrorism are too diverse and too general for terrorists to be properly identified through that criteria. Likewise, Hudson (1999) rules out pathological characteristics as a norm among terrorists and even substantiates that the contrary is more believable. However, the article does relate terrorism to some psychological factors such as delusions about religious beliefs that drive terrorists to their deeds. This is supported as one of the ideological explanations in Beiner (2006).

In Beiner (2006), religious motivation is but one of the factors albeit one of the most dangerous factors that can motivate a person to become a terrorist. Religious motivation is deeply related to taking vengeance for past crimes of a certain society against another. There are also other notable explanations about terrorism in Beiner (2006) such as economic and anarchic theories. In the economic perspective, Beiner (2006) explains that people who engage in terrorism reach a point where the cost of not doing the act of terrorism is already greater than doing it, or the benefit in doing the act exceeds that of not doing it.

In the anarchic explanation, it is elaborated that anarchy like terrorism espouses violence as a means towards an end. The explanation of the lack of pathological and personality-based grounding for terrorist seems sound. Terrorist leaders seem to very rational in their justification of their actions, and their non-violent followers are very approving of their actions. When the 9/11 occurred for example, millions of people celebrated the gruesome act (Tolson, 2008). All of those people could not have all been insane.

Surely, the terrorist leaders gave rational explanations that made such people rejoice the death of so many. This would mean that the motivation of terrorism tilts more towards rational justifications than irrational ones. However, what both articles agree upon about religion being a foremost cause behind terrorism seems sound as well. Historically, oppressive acts have been performed time and time again in the name of religion. If the extremist Muslim faithful are lashing out now, it should be remembered that the Christian crusaders have behaved in far less civilized ways against the Arabs during their holy wars.

It is therefore not unlikely that at core of the main vehicle of violence today which is terrorism are also religious ideals. The economic theoretical perspective is also quite acceptable. In terrorist groups like Al Queda, suicide bombers are promised that they would go to heaven in order to satisfy their religious needs and convince them to perform the act of terrorism, but at the same time they are also assured that their families will be well taken cared of by the organization which motivates them in an economic perspective.

If the prospective suicide bomber is someone who is desperate and who just simply cannot take care of his or her loved ones through legitimate means, then terrorism even at the cost of his or her own life can be a reasonable option that can help in solving personal and financial problems. In conclusion, it is reasonable to believe that terrorists are not generally insane or depraved. Most of them are rational individuals who are driven by political, religious or economic reasons to do what they believe is right or at least what they believe is best for them and for those that they care about.


Beiner, R. (2006). Theories and Ideologies of Terrorism Gunaratna, R. (2003). Inside Al Qaeda: Global Network of Terror. Berkley Trade. Hudson, R. (1999). The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism: Who Becomes a Terrorist and Why? Library of Congress Tolson, J. (2008). Why Did So Many Muslims Seem to Celebrate 9/11? Retrieved November 12, 2008 from: http://www. usnews. com/articles/news/religion/2008/04/07/why-did-so-many-muslims-seem-to-celebrate-911. html