Religion based terrorism is defined as a group whose motivations have a predominant religious influence or goal. In the last 30 years there has been an increase in terrorist activity motivated by religious beliefs. The different forms of religious terrorism are communal, genocidal, nihilistic, or revolutionary. Religious terrorism can be committed by a person, large movements, organizations, or governments. Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher was quoted in 1980 as saying “that terrorist acts in the name of religion and ethnicity have become one of the most important security challenges we face in the wake of the Cold War.”. Religious terrorism is considered one of the most dangerous forms because ever since early history people have used religion to motivate people to fight and die for their beliefs. The world’s religions all have both peaceful and violent messages from which believers can choose. Religious terrorists and extremists use their interpretation of religion to justify their violence. This can even be seen back hundreds of years ago, during Christian Crusades in the Middle Ages, where Pope Urban II promised martyrdom for anyone who fought and died for the cross. The purpose of the Crusades was to take “the holy land” back from the Muslims; the church used their believer’s loyalty to the Christian religion to help them accomplish their own set goal. Religious terrorist groups glorify any persons willingness to sacrifice themselves in the name of their religious belief will make them a martyr. This helps the terrorist group accomplish their goals by embedding in their followers head the belief that they are actually acting on behalf of their faith. Committing suicide and self-sacrifice for your religious beliefs have been a proven way of terrorist organizations to deliver maximum damage onto their enemy with little or no cost associated with it. The pure shock of a suicide bombing gives the terrorist group all the free media it needs to get their message out. The media inadvertently helps these organizations by broadcasting their terrorist acts on their television shows and on the news. By providing all this free media for the terrorist group it gives them a doorway to explain to the world what exactly their message/grievance is and what their ideologies are. The loss of the follower, who committed suicide, becomes inconsequential because it helped the group to achieve its overall mission. With today’s technological advances it provides media in the form of television, internet, and printed media. This helps spread the terrorist group’s propaganda message and it provides the group with help in recruiting new followers. They end up recruiting sympathetic like minded people. The effect religion has as a motivator for these terrorism groups in getting people to do what they want. The promise of martyrdom and the preaching of great rewards in the afterlife prove to be more motivational then money or power. These organizations are responsible for inspiring people to move half across the world to join these radical groups. According to Sheehan (2000) “a number of these terrorist groups have portrayed themselves as the victims and they pray on peoples spiritual needs. The terrorist groups recruit these followers and train them to believe violence is the only way to protect their religious ways. This is often just a transparent tactic designed to conceal the group’s political goals thus generating popular support with an ever silent opposition.” What makes religious terrorism one of the most dangerous forms is their ability to get their follower’s to sacrifice not only the lives of innocent victims, but their own lives also. Juergensmeyer (2004) states “religion is not innocent. But it does not ordinarily lead to violence. That happens only with the coalescence of a peculiar set of circumstances - political, social, and ideological when religion becomes fused with violent...
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