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What Terrorists Are Really Angry About

February 26, 2015 in Economics

By John Mueller

John Mueller

We will not know for some time exactly why three men who were arrested on Wednesday in the United States wanted to join ISIS in Syria.

But what we do know is that it has become common, even routine, to argue that there exists a process by which potential terrorists become “radicalized.” The concept, which has become something of a buzzword, suggests that the central motivation for terrorist violence is ideological.

However, Islamist terrorists in the West have generally been set off not so much by anything theoretical but rather by intense outrage at American and Israeli actions in the Middle East and by a burning desire to seek revenge, to get back, to defend, and/or to make a violent statement expressing their hostility to what they see as a war on Islam.

Perhaps the most prominent motivating force is anger at U.S. foreign policy.”

This can be seen in the story of one of the shooters in the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. If he was “radicalized” by anything, it was by news about the way prisoners were being treated by the United States at Abu Ghraib in Iraq. He spent years trying to get to Iraq to fight the Americans there, finally finding a target closer to home.

The same observation arises when one looks over a collection of case studies of terrorists or would-be terrorists who have sought to do damage in the United States. The overwhelming driving force in these cases has been simmering, and more commonly boiling, outrage at American foreign policy.

It was not that the plotters in these cases were motivated solely by a coherent ideology or had a burning urge to spread Islam and Sharia law or to establish caliphates. Rather, it was the desire to protect their religion against what they perceived to be a concentrated war upon it in the Middle East by the United States government and military.

At the same time, these cases — from the shoe-bomber to the underwear bomber — show that there is remarkably little hostility to American culture or society. For example, the infamous Times Square bomber, a Pakistani-American who tried to blow up a car in New York, specifically mentioned U.S. drone strikes that killed civilians in Pakistan. The Boston Marathon bombers, similarly, explicitly cited the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as motivating factors. Almost none of the terrorists or would be …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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