Status Brief:

Developmental Milestones/Developments to Date:

Current Assessment/State of the Field:




Shane, Scott, “Radical U.S. Muslims Little Threat, Study Says,” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/us/radical-muslim-americans-pose-little-threat-study-says.html NYT, February 8, 2012, A10.

  1. “A feared wave of homegrown terrorism by radicalized Muslim Americans has not materialized, with plots and arrests dropping sharply over the two years since an unusual peak in 2009, according to a new study by a North Carolina research group.”
  2. “The study, to be released on Wednesday, found that 20 Muslim Americans were charged in violent plots or attacks in 2011, down from 26 in 2010 and a spike of 47 in 2009.”
  3. “Forty percent of those charged in 2011 were converts to Islam, Mr. Kurzman found, slightly higher than the 35 percent of those charged since the 2001 attacks. His new report is based on the continuation of research he conducted for a book he published last year, ‘The Missing Martyrs: Why There Are So Few Muslim Terrorists.’”
  4. “The upsurge in domestic plots two years ago prompted some scholars of violent extremism to question the conventional wisdom that Muslims in the United States, with higher levels of education and income than the average American, were not susceptible to the message of Al Qaeda.”
  5. “The string of cases fueled wide and often contentious discussion of the danger of radicalization among American Muslims, including Congressional hearings led by Representative Peter T. King, a Long Island Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.”
  6. “But the number of cases declined, returning to the rough average of about 20 Muslim Americans accused of extremist violence per year that has prevailed since the 2001 attacks, with 193 people in that category over the decade. By Mr. Kurzman’s count, 462 other Muslim Americans have been charged since 2001 for nonviolent crimes in support of terrorism, including financing and making false statements.”
  7. “‘Fortunately, very few of these people are competent and very few get to the stage of preparing an attack without coming to the attention of the authorities,’ Mr. Kurzman said.”

Terrorist/Offender, Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, al-Qaeda


Alvarez, Lizette, “Details Are Revealed in Brothers’ Terror Case,” NYT December 18, 2012 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/19/us/details-are-revealed-in-brothers-terror-case.html?src=recg Last checked December 22, 2012

  1. ” One of two brothers accused of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction traveled to New York City last month to scout targets for his plan to set off a bomb, a federal prosecutor said in court on Tuesday.”
  2. ”Raees Alam Qazi, 20, the younger brother, pedaled around New York City on a bicycle over Thanksgiving weekend trying to pick a site but never selected one, the prosecutor, Karen Gilbert, said.”
  3. ”Mr. Qazi and his brother were arrested on Nov. 29 because agents believed there was ‘an immediate threat,’ the prosecutor said. For this reason, he was questioned without being read his Miranda rights against self-incrimination. A federal agent said later in the hearing that no specific attack had been in the works.”
  4. ”Mr. Qazi and his brother, Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 30, also have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. Both men are naturalized United States citizens of Pakistani descent, and lived for years in Broward County. They have pleaded not guilty.”
  5. ”In arguing for his detention, Ms. Gilbert told the judge that Mr. Qazi ‘was reaching out to Al Qaeda,’ and ‘is a danger to this community.’”
  6. ”In their search of Mr. Qazi’s house, federal agents said, they found batteries taped together, stripped Christmas light wire and a magazine, Al Qaeda Inspire, with an article on how to make a detonator using Christmas lights. One article carried the headline ‘Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.’ … they found parts of a remote control car that Ms. Gilbert and an F.B.I. special agent said could be used to blow up a bomb remotely.”
  7. ”Agents also seized Mr. Qazi’s computer and found searches for PETN, … Agents said Mr. Qazi had told them that he tried to make a bomb at his home but did not succeed.” *”Mr. Ecarius {Mr. Qazi’s lawyer} also questioned whether there was truly a ‘specific attack.’ An F.B.I. special agent, Kristine Holden, responded in court that ‘he didn’t specifically plan one.’”
  8. “Federal agents offered up multiple recorded phone conversations between the defendants and two confidential informers. In one recorded conversation, Mr. Qazi’s brother described him as a ‘lone wolf.’ In another, Mr. Qazi’s sister-in-law complained about Mr. Qazi. … ‘it’s nice that he’s going to do jihad, but he still has to pay rent and help out.’”

Law, Pakistan, Terrorist/Offender, Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, al-Qaeda


Secret, Mosi, “Three Men Appear in Court in Mysterious Terror Case“, NYT, December 21, 2012 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/nyregion/3-men-accused-of-training-with-al-shabab-appear-in-new-york-court.html?hp&_r=0 Last checked 12/21/12

  1. ”Three men appeared in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Friday on charges that they had trained to be suicide bombers with a Somali terrorist group.”
  2. ”The defendants, Ali Yasin Ahmed, 27, Mahdi Hashi, 23, and Mohamed Yusuf, 29, were arrested in August by authorities in Africa while going to Yemen. They are accused of participating in weapons and explosives training with Al Shabab, a United States-designated terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda, during a four-year period beginning in 2008. Court documents show no connection between the alleged crimes and the United States.”
  3. ”For four months, the case remained under seal, and the court documents unsealed on Friday contained little elaboration on the crimes or any indication of why the case was brought in New York. Even the nationalities of the men were unclear. They appeared in court with the aid of a Swedish interpreter.”
  4. ”The case is not the first brought in New York involving foreigners accused of acts of terrorism abroad. In June, an Eritrean man, Mohamed Ibrahim Ahmed, pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Manhattan to conspiring to support Al Shabab. More than 30 defendants have been prosecuted in this country for supporting the group.
  5. ”American prosecutors have said the group worked closely with Al Qaeda in Yemen and Pakistan, harboring terrorists wanted for bombings of United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.”

Law, Information Policy, Law Enforcement, Developing Countries, al-Qaeda, Terrorist/Offender, Homeland Security

Violent Believers

A violent believer is a person who is extremely dedicated to an ideology and that the use of violence is needed to get the point across to others. These acts of violence don’t always have political intents.

Vaisman-Tzachor, ReubanProfiling TerroristsJournal of Police Crises Negotiations p27-61 January 1, 2007.

  1. “Others proposed that terrorism was an expression of a particular psychological makeup of “violent believers” of uncompromising ideologies and creeds” (Meloy, 2004; Meloy, Mohandie, Hempel & Shiva,2001; Hoffer, 1951)
  2. ”Thus, the psychological motives of the individual and the political motives of the terrorist group converge upon the common behaviors of outrageous violence and glorified mayhem” (Sageman, 2004)


Meloy, J.Indirect Personality Assessment of the Violent True Believer Journal of Personality Assessment p138-146 March 21, 2003

  1. “The violent true believer is an individual committed to an ideology or belief system which advances homicide and suicide as a legitimate means to further a particular goal.”
  2. “He cogently noted that history, including personal history, has to serve theology in the mind of the true believer: an assertion that we will see is central to understanding contemporary fundamentalist terrorism.”
  3. “Karl Menninger, in his 1938 book, Man Against Himself, noted three motives for martyrdom: the self-punitive, or suicidal motive; the aggressive, or homicidal motive; and the erotic, or sexual motive.”
  4. “Although Menninger inferred the aggressive motive in a martyr from his provocation of others to persecute him in order to obtain self-punitive or masochistic gratification, in our time martyrdom has taken on a much more directly aggressive aspect: the intentional killing of others as well as the self.”
  5. “The erotic, or sexual component was characterized by the martyr’s flight from his own mother, his renunciation of actual sexuality, and his moral masochism—the eagerness with which he would directly seek suffering and death.”
  6. “There appears to be a fourth aspect of the erotic or sexual component of martyrdom, and that is the idealization of sexuality in fantasy.”
  7. “Reik identified three factors in his understanding of the relationship between masochism and martyrdom: First, there is a fantasy factor in which there is collective preparation for the act of martyrdom and an identification with a divine figure; second, there is a suspense factor in which there is the anticipation of martyrdom.”
  8. “And third, there is a demonstrative factor in which the martyr erects his own memorial, strives for publicity, and his colleagues sing his praises after his death.”
  9. “He has a tactical understanding of suicide as a weapon of terrorism.”
  10. “He may have a strong envious impulse to damage or destroy the goodness that he sees in his enemy, since he cannot possess it himself.”
  11. “He attains a sense of omnipotence in the moments before his suicidal–homicidal act which overcomes other intolerable feelings and is the last sense of self while alive.”
  12. “He develops a sense of entitlement—the specific belief that he has a right to kill others, even civilians, to further his cause—which compensates for his sense of hopelessness and helplessness, at least in this life.”
  13. “He entertains grandiose fantasies suffused with expectations of pleasure, power, and knowledge in an afterlife.”
  14. “If psychopathy is severe in the violent true believer, he is not likely to sacrifice himself, but will prepare others to do so.”
  15. “He has a capacity for complete emotional detachment from himself and others, particularly in the hours prior to the terrorist act.”
  16. “His violence is predatory: planned, purposeful, and emotionless.”
  17. “He may be clinically paranoid in the sense that an irrational fear of imminent attack is psychologically present, or he has developed over the course of time a paranoid pseudo-community (e.g., infidels, Americans, unbelievers) upon which he can project blame for all the ills and misfortunes of his life.”
  18. “And finally, he has a sense of foreshortened future as the date of his attack approaches.”
  19. “Although their temperaments and characters are static factors which contributed to their violence risk, there were dynamic clinical and situational aspects to their lives which changed over time and when viewed retrospectively, provide a developmental line of approach to understanding the “pathways of ideas and behaviors that may lead to violent action.” (Borum, Fein, Vossekuil, & Berglund, 1999)


Gottschalk, M. “Authoritarianism and Pathological Hatred: A Social Psychological Profile of the Middle Eastern Terrorist.” American Sociologist, 35(2), 38-59. June 1, 2004

  1. “Non-state terrorism refers to the premeditated use, attempt to use, or threat to use violence by private individuals or members of non-state organizations against non-combating civilians who, although anonymous,share symbolic characteristics of (a) social group(s) which the perpetrators want to place in a state of chronic fear in order to serve aims they define as ideological and/or political” (Gottschalk and Lefebvre,1995).
  2. “Terrorist groups operating in the 1960s and 1970s often presented themselves as rational agents or organizations resorting to violence in order to achieve specific political goals.”
  3. “Rather than seeking to represent themselves to an audience as political agents struggling for a cause through unconventional means, they seem more interested to represent themselves through televised images of absolute and random violence.”
  4. “Inspired by a rigidly dichotomous view of a world populated by masters and slaves, oppressors and victims, strong and weak, terrorists believe that the Others are cunning and treacherous subhumans who can only understand the language of force and violence and who, in any case, must endure suffering for the sins of their parents, for their potential future ones, or for just being who they are.”
  5. “Having delegitimized the Other’s history, human rights, and legitimacy, terrorist constructions also darken the picture by emphasizing two kinds of violence: the one the Others have inflicted or could inflict upon “us,” and thus, the necessity of inflicting it upon them.”
  6. “Violence then does not only constitute a means of resolving conflicts but is an axial principle organizing the terrorist’s worldview, a supreme tool enforcing a rigid categorization between the strong and the weak, the winners and the losers, the true and the false.”

Diverse Profiles

Vaisman-Tzachor, ReubanProfiling TerroristsJournal of Police Crises Negotiations p27-61 January 1, 2007.

  1. “Contrary to popular belief, however, the terrorist population comprises numerous profiles which fit the various terrorist organizations and their respective nationalities of origin, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, religious affiliations, and their psychological makeup” (Anonymous, 2003;Zagorin & Duffy, 2005)
  2. “Consequently, one must conclude that there are probably numerous profiles for numerous terrorist targets, which vary along ideological lines, technical capacities, group affiliations, and so on.”
  3. “The international flight/domestic flight terrorist, the domestic public building attacker,the foreign U.S. facility attacker, the domestic or foreign chemical terrorist, the domestic or foreign nuclear terrorist, the attacker of national symbols and government agencies, etc., each possessing unique and distinct characteristics”
  4. “This is indeed because terrorists are not exclusive in the methods or targets that they select, and also because terrorists may change their orientations and group affiliations.”
  5. “The overlap in the list of profiles also accommodates variations in the working definitions of the categories offered by experts in the field.”
  6. “This definition illustrates the multifaceted nature of a terrorist, who can have malevolent and/or charismatic characteristics, who can be a follower and/or a believer of a creed or ideology, and who can be an antisocial criminal and/or a respected member of society.” (McDermott, 2005;Anonymous, 2003; Navarro, 2004;Meloy, 2000, 2004)

Intergroup variability

Vaisman-Tzachor, ReubanProfiling TerroristsJournal of Police Crises Negotiations p27-61 January 1, 2007.

  1. “There is even evidence of intergroup variability within international terrorist organizations which are known to span over most continents (such as Al-Qaeda), with terrorist cells recruited from many countries, different ethnic groups, and sometimes divergent religious affiliations.”
  2. “The internal pyramidal hierarchies of terrorist organizations and the respective levels of skills, knowledge, and commitment to the terrorist tasks at each level, as well as the behavioral characteristics and the behavioral manifestations at each level, mimic those seen in street-gangs and drug-trafficking organizations” (Lichtenwald,2003; Sageman, 2004; McDermott, 2005)
  3. “When these principles are applied to terrorism, it takes the form of maintaining a steady stream of lower level terrorism activity in Iraq in order to sufficiently distract Americans from developing a more coherent and complete domestic terrorism- prevention protocol in America proper, thereby buying Al-Qaeda time to regroup and launch another spectacular attack on U.S. soil” (Weldon, 2005)
  4. “The Mastermind, a “Career Terrorist” who is “Doing His Job,” remains comfortably in the background, engages mostly in planning, tends to be more inclined towards the exact sciences (Sageman, 2003), has relatively stronger ideological convictions, and possesses relatively lesser notoriety desires.”
  5. “The Ring Leader is a field officer whose terrorism career is somewhat shorter by a few years, with stronger notoriety needs, strong ideological convictions, tends to be more inclined towards the social sciences, and has good organizational and leadership characteristics.”
  6. “The Foot Soldier (who hijacks the airplane, or who is a suicide bomber) has a short terrorism career, with very strong notoriety needs,strong ideological or religious convictions, and a greater degree of social isolation, he tends to be most easily recruitable, trusts others in the organization, and is easily deceived (may not know he is flying onto his death)”
  7. “Heads of terrorist organizations are clearly notoriety- and fame-oriented, tending more toward the Histrionic side of the Cluster B spectrum.”
  8. “There is, however, an additional category of “Accidental Terrorists”who are unwittingly participating in a terrorist act after having been recruited to execute a crucial aspect of the attack without their prior knowledge or consent.”
  9. “The Pilot/Suicide Bomber (who flies the airplane into a building) has a short terrorism career, with very strong notoriety needs, strongest ideological or religious convictions, possesses some particular skill-set which is desirable or developed by the terrorist organization (usually in the technical arena), and has the greatest degree of social isolation, which enables this person to knowingly kill him or herself.”

Suicide Bomber

Lester D, Yang B, Lindsay M.Suicide Bombers: Are Psychological Profiles Possible?Studies In Conflict & Terrorism page 283-295 July 1, 2004

  1. “Recently too, older married men have become suicide bombers as well as some unmarried young women.”
  2. “The suicide bomber is overly integrated into his society and overly regulated.”
  3. “They predicted that the suicide terrorists from an altruistic suicide point of view would more often have a religious education (confirmed) and a religious rather than a nationalistic ideology (confirmed) and, from a fatalistic suicide point of view, be younger(not confirmed—they were older), unmarried (confirmed), and from a lower social class(confirmed).”
  4. “Israeli (1997) noted that suicide bombers do not appear to possess any of the risk factors commonly associated with suicide.”
  5. “They are instead the type of individuals who join cults or revolutionary groups—young with few life responsibilities, not particularly successful in life (work or interpersonal relationships), and with low self-esteem.”
  6. “The organization gives them recognition and acceptance, and they transform their frustration and failure into glory and victory.” *”Salib (2003) also suggested that the suicide bombers are experiencing anger and hopelessness, but he also hypothesized that they may be suffering from shared delusions, a psychiatric disorder that may be called folie à plusiers.”
  7. “Volkan (2002) suggested that potential suicide bombers have disturbed personal identities and are seeking some external agent to internalize so as to stabilize their internal world.”
  8. “He saw the suicide bombers as idealistic and immature (making them susceptible to a charismatic leader).”
  9. “Lachkar (2002) has suggested that suicide bombers have a borderline personality disorder, a personality type that she feels is characteristic of many Arabs in the Middle East (as compared to the narcissistic personality of many Israelis).”
  10. “Adorno and his colleagues (1950) read what had been written about those who participated in these atrocities, and they developed the concept of the authoritarian personality.”
  11. “The Middle Eastern terrorists and suicide bombers are typically raised in very strict fundamentalist Islamic sects whose teachings they accept.”
  12. “The society in which they live provides them with moral authorities, the religious and political leaders (who are often the same people), and they find more leaders at their schools and universities (where the teaching is imbued with Islamic studies).


Miller, L. “Terrorist Mind: I. A Psychological and Political Analysis.International Journal Of Offender Therapy And Comparative Criminology, 50(2), 121-138. April 2006

  1. “This is not reckless selfdestruction but a forthright noble act, the ultimate sacrifice—gift, even—that the suicide attacker can give for his cause and his people.”
  2. “Rather, these are typically young men in their late teens and early 20s who have been generally well-behaved youth in their communities,good students, and regarded as helpful and generous.”
  3. “But like many terrorists, at least part of their decision to sacrifice themselves comes from the rage and resentment at what they perceive to be an endless onslaught of unjust persecutions and humiliations at the hands of the out-group (Silke, 2003b).”
  4. “Thus, it is not depression and despair that fuels their self-sacrificial impulse but the assertive, energetic desire to fuse themselves with something greater and stronger, to become one with an eternal and omnipotent vindicating force.”
  5. “In addition to return on investment, suicide bombing is efficient in another way: It is relatively easy.”
  6. “In fact,the preparation, planning, and execution of a suicide attack has by now become almost a standard sequence of operations(Seger,2003).”
  7. “Accordingly, it makes sense that suicide attacks seem to spring most readily from cultures that condone and encourage self-sacrifice, especially in the context of longrunning conflicts that have endured extensive and repeated casualties on both sides(Silke, 2003b)”

Criminal background

Vaisman-Tzachor, ReubanProfiling TerroristsJournal of Police Crises Negotiations p27-61 January 1, 2007.

  1. “Foreign-born terrorism perpetrators who commit their acts of terrorism within the United States, almost without exception, tended to have immigration statuses that were more transitional and often illegal (visa overstay violations, immigrated illegally into the country, etc.)” (Tempest, Krikorian, & Romney, 2005; McDermott,2005; Weldon, 2005)
  2. “A few of the perpetrators had criminal backgrounds (Lewis, 2004; Navarro, 2004; Meloy, 2000, 2004) but for the most part, they were of lower rank in the terrorist organizations, presented lesser menace, and posed a relatively lesser challenge to prevention efforts, detection, or arrests.” (Richard Reid, Jose Padilla,etc.)
  3. “reports on the characteristic coercive recruiting efforts, using intimidation and violence, by the Northern Ireland loyalist terrorist organization (UDA) in the 1990s when faced with limited human resourcesand stiff competition from the IRA.” (Bruce,1992)Looking at a person’s criminal background, more specifically those who are Arab or Muslim are being used to profile potential terrorists and can result in the deportation of a person.


Bonikowski, BFlying while Arab (or was it Muslim? or Middle Eastern?): A theoretical analysis of racial profiling after september 11 Discourse of Sociological Practice 315-327 March 1, 2005.

  1. “In addition, they have expanded the list of crimes that can result in deportation to include such minor offenses as shoplifting, petty theft, drunk driving, and even low level drug violations which have been reclassified as aggravated felonies, a category that includes murder, rape, terrorism, and kidnapping” (Welch, 2003)

Psychological Profile

Vaisman-Tzachor, ReubanProfiling TerroristsJournal of Police Crises Negotiations p27-61 January 1, 2007.

  1. *“A psychological profile consistent with “Cluster B” personality configuration, with pathological narcissism scoring the highest, including psychopathy, paranoia, general unhappiness, etc., is a very significant determinant of a “Likely Terrorist” (Ghosh, 2005; McDermott, 2005; Meloy, 2000, 2004)
  2. “The emotional needs for affiliation thatmembership in terrorist organizations satisfy in the recruits are well-documented phenomena, known to the psychological community” (McDermott, 2005; Magnarelli, 2003; Meloy, 2000; Post, 1987)
  3. “The following conclusions are based on experiences and on the reviews by Silke (2003), Sageman (2003) and others that terrorists are Essentially Normal Individuals from a psychologicalperspective.”
  4. “For those more familiar with such technical definitions,terrorists display a character organization which is imbedded in “Cluster B” of personality disorders taxonomy (but not necessarily severelydisordered) as proposed in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition.” (APA, 1994)
  5. “Variants of such typology, which are proposed by others,include individuals who either can move more fluidly along the theoretical continuum of the cluster configuration (from Antisocial personality through Borderline Character and down to Narcissistic, and even sometimes Histrionic personality) and present with other characteristics, or persons who affiliate themselves with terrorist organizations because of their entrenched antisocial characters (also known as“Psychopathic” in the lay community).” (Meloy, 2004)
  6. “This entails the psychological development into an essentially emotionally self-sufficient individual”
  7. “This character development is heralded by the subjective “discovery” at an early age that one’s parents will not meet one’s emotional needs”
  8. “Following that “discovery,” there is a period of trial and error in which, gradually, the child develops an “independent” style of emotional gratification entailing the deployment of one’s talents for the fulfillment of emotional needs through “alternative” resources”
  9. “Concurrently, the development of a grandiose sense of self as “special” also emerges, primarily as a psychological defense from a subjective feeling that one is insignificant and unloved by one’s inadequate, insufficient, or unavailable parents”
  10. “Particularly crucial colorations to the nascent grandiose sense of self and narcissistic entitlement are the development of strong ideological, nationalistic, and/or religious convictions.”
  11. “Furthermore, persons organized around a narcissistic core, tend to exhibit the common sense of grandiose entitlement which fits perfectly into the emerging terrorist group’s belief that they are “special” in some fundamental way” (Ghosh, 2005; McDermott, 2005)
  12. “Other social psychological phenomena which are concurrently observed are the developments of increased group cohesion, increased alliance with the group mentality and the most well-studied “Groupthink,” entailing the exclusion of alternative perspectives, and the “Risky Shift” involving the tendency to assume greater personal risks when operating within a group.” (Sageman,2004; Shermer, 2006; Janis, 1971; Doise, 1969 Wallach, Kogan&Bem, 1962)
  13. “The Psychological Motives for Terrorism: “Specialness,” Notoriety, Social Approval, Ideological/Religious Convictions, Emotional Hunger, Strong Group Affiliations, and Social Isolation are all elements in the Psychological Profile of a Terrorist”


Bonikowski, B.Flying while Arab (or was it Muslim? or Middle Eastern?): A theoretical analysis of racial profiling after september 11Discourse of Sociological Practice 315-327 March 1, 2005.

  1. “terrorism is a reflection of unconscious feelings of hostility toward parents and […] this feeling is an outgrowth of childhood abuse or adolescent behavior.” (in Puar and Rai 2002)


Miller,L.Terrorist Mind: I. A Psychological and Political Analysis.” International Journal Of Offender Therapy And Comparative Criminology, 50(2), 121-138. April 2006

  1. “But identity is always personal, not just social, and a common factor in the history of many terrorists-to-be is the combination of frustrated social aspirations and individual humiliations (Ezekiel, 1995; Staub, 2003a).”
  2. “In one representative model, the evolution of the terrorist mind-set is divided into four stages (Borum,2003).”
  3. “Stage 1 (“It’s not right”) begins with an individual or group identifying some set of conditions in their life that is unpleasant, undesirable, or unacceptable.”
  4. “Stage 2 (“It’s not fair”) involves a basis of comparison.”
  5. “This leads to Stage 3 (“It’s your fault”), in which the cause of the injustice is projected onto a vilifiable out-group, alien culture, or corrupt regime.”
  6. “You’re evil” is the logical 4th stage of the process, in which the purported exploiters and tormenters are dehumanized and demonized.


Gottschalk, M. “Authoritarianism and Pathological Hatred: A Social Psychological Profile of the Middle Eastern Terrorist.” American Sociologist, 35(2), 38-59. June 1, 2004

  1. “First, regardless of their gender, political, religious, or ethnic affiliation, terrorists have significantly higher scores on MMPI-2 subscales measuring psychopathic deviate (Scale 4), paranoid (Scale 6), depressive (Scale 2), and hypomanic (Scale 9) tendencies.”
  2. “Second, regardless of their faith, terrorists belonging to fundamentalist groups are also more likely to obtain high scores on the schizophrenic scale (Scale 8).”
  3. “Third, comparisons between terrorists of different ethnic groups suggest higher levels of psychopathology among Israeli Jews (32.7 percent) than among Palestinians (31.1 percent).”
  4. “Fourth, comparisons of significant subscales among terrorists who belong to various ethnic groups suggest that schizophrenic tendencies (Scale 8) constitute one of the two highest clinical scales among 56 percent of Israeli Jews, and one of the three highest among them.”
  5. “Fifth, psychopathic deviate tendencies (Scale 4) constitute the highest clinical scale among 29 percent of Palestinian terrorists, and one among the three highest clinical scales among 40 percent of them.”
  6. “Sixth, finally, comparisons of terrorists claiming different types of ideological orientation (revolutionary,secular, fundamentalist) reveal important schizophrenic tendencies (Scale 8) among fundamentalists.”
  7. “Scores on the schizophrenic scale are significantly elevated beyond the significant pathological level among 47.7 percent of them and moderately elevated among 58 percent.”
  8. “Thus, regardless of their political, religious, ethnic affiliation or gender,terrorists are similar to each other and differ from their respective control groups on 19 “pathological hatred” subscales.”
  9. “On both these scales, therefore, we find that terrorist scores systematically point both to the maladaptive pole of the MMPI-2 scale and to the extreme pole of the “pathological hatred” scale.

Suicide Terrorists

Lankford, A. “Could Suicide Terrorists Actually Be Suicidal.” Studies In Conflict And Terrorism, 34(4), 337-366. April 1, 2011

  1. “There are also many reasons to think that both event-based and psychological risk factors for suicide may drive the behavior of suicide terrorists.”
  2. “Today, however, there is growing evidence that more than 75 individual suicide terrorists may have exhibited these classic suicidal traits.”
  3. “However, at the very least, the evidence that suicide bombers so often blow themselves up “prematurely” suggests that they do not really care about collective goals, such as the terrorist organization’s strategic mission or political cause, nearly as much as has been previously assumed.”
  4. “It has been well established that the vast majority of terrorists are not crazy or insane,and they do not suffer from serious pathologies, early childhood traumas, or personality disorders.”
  5. “It certainly seems possible that similar negative events are a factor in the decision making of at least some of these suicide terrorists.”
  6. “Another risk factor for suicide is the loss of security.”
  7. “Many full-fledged members of terrorist organizations are also faced with a loss of security.”
  8. “A serious illness or injury is another common risk factor for suicide.”
  9. “Community members living in conflict-ridden communities in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Chechnya may be particularly likely to suffer an illness or injury, and medical services in these regions are often limited.”
  10. “Seriously harming someone is another event-based risk factor for suicide.”
  11. “Much like soldiers who were initially eager to join a war effort, genuinely believe in their country’s mission, but nevertheless are overcome by the psychological costs of killing, at least some terrorists must struggle internally with the morality of their actions.”
  12. “In these cases, much like in other classic acts of murder-suicide, the terrorist would be simultaneously lashing out in rage against others and punishing him or herself.”
  13. “At the present time, there is no specific evidence that suicide terrorists have suffered traumatic brain injuries prior to blowing themselves up, but it is certainly possible that they have.”
  14. “Another risk factor for suicide that could affect at least a small percentage of suicide terrorists is a neurotransmitter imbalance within the brain.”
  15. “Ariel Merarai et al. recently found signs of depression among a significant percentage of thepreemptively arrested suicide bombers they studied,and there are reasons to think that this finding may be generalizable.”
  16. “The community members who volunteer for suicide attacks may be particularly apt to suffer from depression due to the stressful toll of living in particularly impoverished and conflict-ridden communities in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Chechnya.”
  17. “As one recruiter of suicide bombers explained,he specifically tried to find “sad guys” for suicide missions because regardless of the politics or ideologies involved, those individuals were more likely to blow themselves up.”
  18. “Although Al Qaeda does remain a serious threat, it seems likely that these crushed hopes and unforeseen losses would have caused some terrorists to become depressed and suicidal.”
  19. “In addition, some members of terrorist organizations may become depressed due to other organizational or combat strains, such as their prolonged “deployment,” their struggles with sleep deprivation, their isolation from loved ones, their loss of faith in the mission, or their loss of confidence in their leaders.”
  20. “Given the conflict-ridden nature of communities in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya from which volunteer suicide bombers often come, it would seem likely that some of these individuals had been suffering from PTSD when they decided to kill themselves.”
  21. “The PTSD experienced by some full-fledged members of terrorist organizations may be due to the psychological trauma they experience in conflict zones.”
  22. “In these precursors to death, they may be most likely to reveal feelings of guilt and shame.”
  23. “Like community members, their guilt or shame may arise from their violations of religious law, inability to prevent comrades from being harmed, survival while others have died, or development of socially stigmatized mental illnesses such as depression or PTSD.”
  24. “In other cases, they may become overwhelmed due to guilt or shame arising from having abandoned their family, having carried out morally questionable acts of terrorism, or having committed other mistakes or sins.”
  25. “Those who become volunteer suicide bombers have often sought to escape what they felt was a hopeless situation.”
  26. “Those terrorists who end up blowing themselves up in suicide attacks may be overwhelmed by their perceived inability to avoid capture or death at the hands of their enemies, withdraw from the terrorist organization and return to their previous life, recover from a personal crisis, or erase past sins or mistakes, such as irreligious personal behaviors or newly second-guessed, morally questionable acts of terrorism.”
  27. “Those who become volunteer suicide bombers often appear to develop feelings of rage against the targets of their violent attacks, such as Israelis, Americans, or Russians.”
  28. “However, at a deeper level, it seems likely that they also blame themselves, and thus feel justified in engaging in self-punishment and penance by blowing themselves up.”
  29. “For instance, some suicide terrorists have clearly attempted to kill themselves in their earlier lives, one of the most unambiguous risk factors for suicide.”
  30. “The assessments of the suicide bombers showed that 40% displayed suicidal tendencies, 20% suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder(which often leads to suicide), and 13% had made previous suicide attempts, unrelated to terrorism.”
  31. “Conversely, none of the regular terrorists or organizers of suicide attacks showed any of these symptoms of suicidality.”

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