Despite the existence of a good deal of research about terrorism, there’s a gap between the common understanding of what leads terrorists to kill & what many experts believe to be true. Terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda are widely seen as being motivated by their radical theology. But according to Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, this view is too simplistic. Pape knows his subject; he & his colleagues have studied every suicide attack in the world since 1980. He says that religious fervor is not a motive unto itself. Rather, it serves as a tool for recruitment & a potent means of getting people to overcome their fear of death & natural aversion to killing innocents. But, there have been “many hundreds of secular suicide attackers,” which suggests that radical theology alone doesn’t explain terrorist attacks.
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Natylie Baldwin is the author of The View from Moscow: Understanding Russia and U.S.-Russia Relations, available at Amazon. Her writing has appeared in Consortium News, RT, OpEd News, The Globe Post, Antiwar.com, The New York Journal of Books, (more...)