Terrorist Group Typologies
Books on Sociology of Terrorism,
Sociology of Terrorism
A cult leader totally dominates
his terrorist group, like Abu Nidal or Shoko Asahara. These terrorist leaders give
instructions to their lieutenants to hijack a jetliner while leaving operational details
to their lieutenants. Terrorist groups can be categorised according to a typology like Religious fundamentalist, New religious, Social
revolutionary or idealist, Right-wing terrorists and Nationalist-separatist.
interested in the social contexts of terrorist groups. Terrorist groups can be categorized
by their political background or ideology. People act differently when they are in a group
than when they are alone, so the group behavior is unique. The
Personal Pathway Model of Psychologist Eric D. Shaw includes early socialization processes, escalatory events, particularly
confrontation with police and narcissistic injuries.
The Organizational Approach
Crenshaw contends that acts of terrorism are committed by groups through collective
decisions based on commonly held beliefs. The organizational approach would seem to be
more relevant to guerrilla organizations that are organized along traditional
Marxist-Leninist lines. The Intifada radicalized many young Palestinians who joined
The Process of Joining a Terrorist Group
Socially alienated individuals, often are unemployed, are the ones who become terrorists.
Those Youths in Algerian ghettos or the Gaza Strip, with little education, join a
terrorist group out of boredom, a desire for adventure and a cause they regard as just.
The educated youths may be motivated more by genuine political or religious convictions. A
terrorist in Western countries is generally both an intellectual and idealistic. Violent
encounters with security forces motivate an already socially alienated individual.
Membership in a terrorist group, however selective. Recruits generally move in a gradual
fashion toward full membership.
For an individual becomes a terrorist would have to be
motivated to do so. An individual who drops out of society can just as well become a monk
instead of a terrorist. Having the proper motivation is not enough, the opportunity to
join a terrorist group is necessary and would have to be acceptable to the terrorist group
which is an exclusive group. Personality that would allow them to fit into the group plus
also a certain skill such as weapons or communications skills is necessary for membership
in a terrorist group.
The psychology of joining a terrorist group depends on the typology of the group. Joining
an anarchistic terrorist group would not be able to count on any social support, whereas
someone joining an ethnic separatist group like IRA would enjoy social support and respect
within ethnic enclaves.
The personal pathway model suggests that terrorists come
from a at risk population who have suffered from early damage to their self-esteem. Family
political philosophies and economic and political tensions inherent throughout modern
society may also be a reason.
During the 1980s and 1990s thousands of Muslim volunteers
(14,000, according to Jane's Intelligence Review) angry, young, and zealous from around
the world, aged between 17 to 35 flocked to training camps in Afghanistan and the
Pakistan-Afghan border area to training. Only some had university education, but most were
unemployed uneducated youths without any future prospects.
Deborah M. Galvin notes that the entry of female terrorists is belief
in a political cause. Half the Intifada protesters were young girls. Some were recruited
into terrorist organizations by boyfriends. A significant feature of the involvement of
the female terrorist is that the lover recruits the female into the group.
Two of the PFLP hijackers Therese Halsa, 19, and Rima Tannous, 21, who hijacked Sabena
Flight 517 from Brussels to Tel Aviv on May 8, 1972, had altogether different characters.
Therese was a nursing student when she was recruited into Fatah was well regarded in the
organization. Rima became the mistress of a doctor who introduced her to drugs and
recruited her into Fatah. Totally dependent on Fatah members who subjected her to physical
and psychological abuse.
Various terrorist groups recruit members from lawful organizations. ETA personnel members
of Egizan, Act Woman!, a feminist movement of ETA's political wing the Henri Batasuna
The Terrorist as Mentally Ill
The psychopathological orientation has dominated the psychological approach to the
terrorist's personality. A common stereotype is that someone who commits acts as planting
a bomb on an airliner or tossing a grenade into a crowded sidewalk café is abnormal. The
terrorist is viewed either as mentally ill or as a fanatic. According to Walter Laqueur
(1977:125), "Terrorists are fanatics and fanaticism frequently makes for cruelty and
Mentally unbalanced individuals have been attracted to airplane hijacking. David G.
Hubbard (1971) conducted a psychiatric study of airplane hijackers. He concluded that
skyjacking is used by psychiatrically ill patients as an expression of illness. Skyjackers
shared several common traits such a violent father or poor achievement or financial
Political terrorists have exhibited psychopathy. In April 1986 Nezar Hindawi sent his
pregnant Irish girlfriend on a flight to Israel, promising to meet her and marry her. He
however had hidden a bomb provided by the Abu Nidal Organization in a false bottom to her
hand luggage. The bomb was discovered by Heathrow security personnel. Taylor regards
Hindawi's behavior as psychopathic because of his willingness to sacrifice his fiancé and
Altruistic suicide bombers like Tamil terrorists in
Sri Lanka and southern India popped cyanide capsules when confronted by police