War on Terrorism

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  • Topic: Terrorism, Aum Shinrikyo, Irregular military
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THE SOCIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY OF TERRORISM: WHO BECOMES A TERRORIST AND WHY?

A Report Prepared under an Interagency Agreement by the Federal Research Division, Library of Congress

September 1999

Author: Rex A. Hudson Editor: Marilyn Majeska Project Managers: Andrea M. Savada Helen C. Metz Federal Research Division Library of Congress Washington, D.C. 20540–4840 Tel: 202–707–3900 Fax: 202–707–3920 E-Mail: frds@loc.gov Homepage: http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd/

Dear Reader: This product was prepared by the staff of the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under an Interagency Agreement with the sponsoring United States Government agency. The Federal Research Division is the Library of Congress's primary fee-for-service research unit and has served United States Government agencies since 1948. At the request of Executive and Judicial branch agencies, and on a cost-recovery basis, the Division prepares customized studies and reports, chronologies, bibliographies, foreign-language abstracts, databases, and other directed-research products in hardcopy and electronic media. The research includes a broad spectrum of social sciences, physical sciences, and humanities topics using the collections of the Library of Congress and other information sources world-wide. For additional information on obtaining the research and analytical services of the Federal Research Division, please call 202–707–3909, fax 202–707–3920), via E-mail frds@loc.gov, or write to: Marketing Coordinator, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540–4840. The Division's World Wide Web Homepage can be viewed at http://www.loc.gov/rr/frd.

Robert L. Worden, Ph.D. Chief Federal Research Division Library of Congress 101 Independence Ave SE Washington, DC 20540–4840 E-mail: rwor@loc.gov

PREFACE The purpose of this study is to focus attention on the types of individuals and groups that are prone to terrorism (see Glossary) in an effort to help improve U.S. counterterrorist methods and policies. The emergence of amorphous and largely unknown terrorist individuals and groups operating independently (freelancers) and the new recruitment patterns of some groups, such as recruiting suicide commandos, female and child terrorists, and scientists capable of developing weapons of mass destruction, provide a measure of urgency to increasing our understanding of the psychological and sociological dynamics of terrorist groups and individuals. The approach used in this study is twofold. First, the study examines the relevant literature and assesses the current knowledge of the subject. Second, the study seeks to develop psychological and sociological profiles of foreign terrorist individuals and selected groups to use as case studies in assessing trends, motivations, likely behavior, and actions that might deter such behavior, as well as reveal vulnerabilities that would aid in combating terrorist groups and individuals. Because this survey is concerned not only with assessing the extensive literature on sociopsychological aspects of terrorism but also providing case studies of about a dozen terrorist groups, it is limited by time constraints and data availability in the amount of attention that it can give to the individual groups, let alone individual leaders or other members. Thus, analysis of the groups and leaders will necessarily be incomplete. A longer study, for example, would allow for the collection and study of the literature produced by each group in the form of autobiographies of former members, group communiqués and manifestos, news media interviews, and other resources. Much information about the terrorist mindset (see Glossary) and decision-making process can be gleaned from such sources. Moreover, there is a language barrier to an examination of the untranslated literature of most of the groups included as case studies herein. Terrorism databases that profile groups and leaders quickly become outdated, and this...
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