Terrorism: Causative Factors Essay

Terrorism: Causative Factors

            Terrorism has been variously defined as premeditated violence perpetrated by state or non state actors or groups to coerce governments for political or ideological reasons (Smelser, Mitchell, (U.S), Panel on Behavioral, & Terrorism, 2002, p - Terrorism: Causative Factors Essay introduction. 14). Terrorism does not constitute random acts of violence but has a logic and theoretical basis. Many radical leaders have propounded their theories on the methods and practice of terrorism to achieve stated aims. This essay examines the tenets of terrorism as propounded by Carlos Marighela, a Brazilian radical whose Mini-Manual of the Urban Guerrilla   is considered as a bible for terrorists across the world. The essay also outlines the causative factors for the rise of religious terrorism including the rise of the Palestine Liberation Organization in its struggle against Israel.

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Marighella captures the essence of urban guerrilla warfare when he states that “the primary task of the urban guerrilla is to distract, to wear down, to demoralize the military regime and its repressive forces” (Marighela, 1969, ¶ 4). Marighela captures the entire philosophy of Urban guerrilla warfare that was later modified and used by all practitioners of urban terrorism as “The urban guerrilla is not afraid to dismantle and destroy the present Brazilian economic, political and social system, for his aim is to aid the rural guerrillas and to help in the creation of a totally new and revolutionary social and political structure, with the armed population in power” (Marighela, ¶ 5).

There are different types of terrorism depending upon the cause that drives them. The most common form are; nationalist or religious terrorism. Nationalism based terrorism is caused when a group of people feel aggrieved that their legitimate demands for independence are being unjustly denied to them. An example of this kind of terrorism was the Irish terrorist fighting for national independence and freedom against England (Laquer, 2004, p. 12) . Religion based terrorism is another common type of terrorism. Factors that reinforce religious terrorist groups are, feeling of exclusivity, perceived or real injustice done to their religion, a feeling of oppression (Juergensmeyer, 2003, p. 12), the feeling that their religion is in danger, that their religion must dominate the world, that they are chosen ones by God, that violence is justified in the name of God and that all such action will earn them a place in heaven. Extreme poverty, unemployment and lack of secular education are other factors that contribute to the growth of religious terrorists. A typical example of such a terrorism is  Al Qaeda that wishes to establish a worldwide Caliphate. Then there are left wing terrorists and right wing terrorists. Left wing terrorists carry out acts of terror for ideological reasons such as the Naxalite movement in India that seeks to overthrow the government to establish a communist regime in India. Right wing groups such as the Ku Klux Klan used terror to propagate their white supremacist agenda.

The PLO came into existence in 1969 as a response to the inability of the world community to ensure the just demand for an independent Palestine in the lands occupied by Israel. In its early days, the PLO resorted to open acts of terrorism to pressurize the Israeli authorities to accept its case for an independent Palestinian homeland. Faced with resolute Israeli resistance the PLO realized the futility of its action and in 1988, the PLO officially recognized the two-state formula, of Jews and Palestinian Arabs living in the same region peacefully. Since then the PLO has given up terror as an instrument of policy and has become a mainstream political organization.

Works Cited
Juergensmeyer, M. (2003). Terror in the mind of God: the global rise of religious violence. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Laquer, W. (2004). No end to war: terrorism in the twenty-first century. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Marighela, C. (1969). MiniManual of the Urban Guerrilla. Retrieved May 24, 2009, from www.marxist.org: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marighella-carlos/1969/06/minimanual-urban-guerrilla/ch01.htm

Smelser, N. J., Mitchell, F., (U.S), N., Panel on Behavioral, S. a., & Terrorism, C. o. (2002). Terrorism: perspectives from the behavioral and social sciences. Washington DC: National Academies Press,.


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