Terrorism is the threat or use of violence against civilians to draw attention to an issue. Those searching for the causes of terrorism -why this tactic would be selected, and in what circumstances- approach the phenomenon in different ways. Some see it as an independent phenomenon, while others view it as one tactic in a larger strategy. Some seek to understand what makes an individual choose terrorism, while others look at it at the level of a group. Political
Terrorism was originally theorized in the context of insurgency and guerrilla warfare, a form of organized political violence by a non-state army or group. Individuals, abortion clinic bombers, or groups, like the Vietcong in the 1960s, can be understood as choosing terrorism because they don't like the current organization of society and they want to change it. Strategic
Saying that a group has a strategic cause for using terrorism is another way of saying that terrorism isn't a random or crazy choice, but is chosen as a tactic in service of a larger goal. Hamas, for example, uses terrorist tactics, but not out of a random desire to fire rockets at Israeli Jewish civilians. Instead, they seek to leverage violence (and cease fires) in order to gain specific concessions related to their goals vis-a-vis Israel and Fatah. Terrorism is typically described as a strategy of the weak seeking to gain advantge against stronger armies or political powers. Psychological (Individual)
Research into the psychological causes that take the individual as their focus began in the 1970s. It had its roots in the 19th century, when criminologists began to look for the psychological causes of criminals. Although this area of inquiry is couched in academically neutral terms, it can disguise the pre-existing view that terrorists are "deviants." There is a substantial body of theory that now concludes that individual terrorists are no more or less likely to have abnormal pathology. Group Psychology / Sociological...
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