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NCJ Number: 200064 Find in a Library
Title: Defining Religious Terrorism: A Causal and Anthological Profile
Journal: Studies in Conflict & Terrorism  Volume:26  Issue:2  Dated:March-April 2003  Pages:105-134
Author(s): Ayla Schbley
Date Published: March 2003
Page Count: 30
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article proposes a unifying definition of religious terrorism that is useful for the global assessment and understanding of the phenomenon while being conducive to international military and law enforcement cooperation.
Abstract: The research underlying the formulation of the definition of religious terrorism has focused on illuminating some of the defining attributes of a Shi'i religious terrorist profile by triangulating a review of the literature, the analyses of 15 taped interviews with suicide bombers who have committed self-immolation, and the outcomes of the convergence of four research questions. The outcome of the research was the development of a profile of Lebanese Shi'i Muslim terrorists. Some 32 traits of such religious terrorists are outlined. The profile concludes that Shi'i religious terrorism is a method of forcefully communicating a perceived divine message/command, and Shi'i religious terrorism is performed by elements with strong ethno-religious identity. Most Shi'i terrorist cells are composed of four to eight members interconnected through cells' stem elements only. A Shi'i religious terrorist is recruited by and from the concentric circles of the family, friendship, or fellowship of its stem element, who is the first among equals. In most cases, cell members themselves choose the symbolic target for their terrorism in order to maintain cell security and operational integrity. The stem elements secure operational provisions, funds, and technical and intelligence support. Each cell member is under the constant observation of other cell members, in order to restrict and discourage unchaperoned contact with outsiders. This is done in order to sustain indoctrination and maintain commitment. Most religious terrorists who are not from poor families or refugee camps are the byproducts of the migration of middle/lower-middle class college-bound high achievers into economically stagnant urban slums. Shi'i religious terrorism is mostly executed to fulfill personal perceptions of salvation usually formed through the directives of charismatic religious leadership. Terrorism provides some Shi'i zealots with profound spiritual satisfaction and fulfillment. Such terrorism is perceived as a measurable indicator of dedication, the upper limit of which is the extent of their willingness to commit self-immolation. Disengaging characteristics and personality disorders, when aggravated by dogma-induced critical/psychotic depression, may be causal factors in the transition from zealotry to terrorism and self-immolation. Their killing of infidels has Allah's blessing and is not viewed in any way as being unethical or immoral, let alone criminal. This study is viewed by the author as an impetus for future theory-building research that can lead to a consensus in defining religious terrorism and a religious terrorist. 6 tables, 35 notes, 24 references and appended questionnaire used with fundamentalist Shi'i Muslims committed to self-immolation
Main Term(s): Domestic Preparedness
Index Term(s): Arab terrorist groups; Islamic law; Lebanon; Religiously motivated violence; Terrorism causes; Terrorist ideologies; Terrorist profiles
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