Homework Questions

Discussion Questions: Based on the required readings this week from Reicher, Haslam and Silke, what do they have to say about these fundamental factors that lead individuals toward terrorism? Also, the U.S. Army Military Guide to Terrorism in the 21st Century describes individual behaviors and lifestyle attractions that you may find useful in answering this question.

Articles for weekly assignment:

Fueling Terror: How Extremists Are Made https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fueling…

A Military Guide to Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century (Pages 2-11 to 2-14) Attached below

Investigating Terrorism : Current Political, Legal and Psychological Issues http://apus.intelluslearning.com/v3/course-widget/…

Instructions: Fully utilize the materials that have been provided to you in order to support your response. Your initial post should be at least 350 words. Please respond to at least two other students. Responses should be a minimum of 150 words and include direct questions. You may challenge, support or supplement another student’s answer using the terms, concepts and theories from the required readings. Also, do not be afraid to respectfully disagree where you feel appropriate; as this should be part of your analysis process at this academic level.

Student #1 Jacop

The required readings for this week, Fueling Terror: How Extremists Are Made and Understanding suicide terrorism: Insights from psychology, lessons from history, intriguingly discuss what fuels extremism and terrorism. Both works share a common message that terrorists are typically of sound mind and there is no “one size fits all” type of profile for terrorists; “The lesson from psychology is that there is no obvious suicide terrorist personality” (Silke, 2015, pg. 12). Reicher and Haslam conclude the elements of racialization include aspiration to belong, misrecognition, disengagement and disidentification while Silke relays similar conclusions (2016, para. 24).

The four components of belonging, misrecognition, disengagement, and disidentification are considered psychological steps that has the potential to create extremism. A sense of belonging is an extremely valuable tool for terrorist organizations as human beings instinctively need to be accepted by others. This need is fulfilled by terrorists through shared identity and group identity. Misrecognition is a form of alienation where authorities or a majority population perceive a minority population or a specific group as enemies or non-desirable members of society. “Having others misperceive or deny a valued identity—an experience we describe as misrecognition—systematically provokes anger and cynicism toward authorities” (Reicher, Haslam, 2016, para. 1). Finally, disengagement and disidentification involves actively disengaging from society and establishing a new persona. These psychological factors are exploited by radical leaders through propaganda.

Radical minority leaders use violence and hate to provoke majority authorities to institute a culture of surveillance against minority group members. This culture stokes misrecognition, which drives up disidentification and disengagement from the mainstream. And this distancing can make the arguments of the radicals harder to dismiss. Our point is that radical minority voices are not enough to radicalize someone, nor are the individual’s own experiences. What is potent, though, is the mix of the two and their ability to reinforce and amplify each other (Reicher, Haslam, 2016, para. 24).

These elements of radicalization are essentially the ingredients of a radicalization process without the narrative detailing a specific sequence of steps. Belonging, misrecognition, disengagement, and disidentification are essentially the rudimental components of terrorism consisting of grievances, the inability to better one’s situation, and a target group to project one’s anger towards. These three components are common in all extremists and terrorists. Interesting enough, these traits are also common in ordinary people who do not resort to terrorism.



Reicher, S., and Haslam, A. (2016). Fueling Terror: How Extremists Are Made. Retrieved fromhttps://apus.intelluslearning.com/lti/#/document/156376786/1/85c6e1fdfd0cf92cdf1a8d07350c2972/6cd7e48dec638a23859df8a7fb2f88d2/browse_published_content/11516/51712/92109/1/lesson/lesson?hideClose=false&tagId=58886&external_course_id=377211&external_course_name=HLSS154%20B003%20Fall%2018.

Silke, A. (2015) ‘Understanding suicide terrorism: Insights from psychology, lessons from history’, in Pearse, John (ed.) Investigating Terrorism: Current Political, Legal and Psychological Issues. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 169-179. Retrieved fromhttp://roar.uel.ac.uk/4819/1/Understanding%20suicide%20terrorism.pdf.

Student #2 Joshua

This weeks reading was very interesting and fully brought to light for me how one could become radicalized. This weeks reading also challenged me to look past the preconceived notions that I formulated myself, and really think about the issue. When you break it down, such as they did, it completely makes sense that an individual could become radicalized, and really not think that they are. In their mind, they are doing what they feel is in the best interest of their beliefs or way of life.

According to the reading, one of the major factors is having a strong leader for people to follow. The leader in terrorist organizations is not so much the trigger puller or master mind behind the attacks that occur, but rather a figure in which they follow. The article talks about how this leader can assimilate the individual’s experiences to unify groups of individuals and create a purpose and an identity for the group. Because the leader is creating a group, this can give an individual a sense of acceptance and belonging that may have not been present prior to. A leader’s influence can become so “powerful” that the individual never has to see the person, physically, but his message is heard and felt, and therefore the individual begins to fall in line in his teaching. This creates a big problem for the United States, as lone wolf attacks are on the rise in our country. A great example of this can be seen with Osama bin Laden, who was the leader of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who the United States has been at a steady war for seventeen years now. He inspired people to create and execute attacks, and many that his organization conducted he had no knowledge of but took credit for.

Propaganda is also a big way that these organizations recruit to join. It would not be hard for an organization to take quotes that were said by the U.S. government, and spin them into a manner in which it makes people believe that the United States is completely against them, and their way of life. As I sit in Afghanistan today, this becomes easier for me to understand, because I also understand the fact that many of the Afghani people are not educated to the same degree that we are in the United States, and further many of them do not have access to internet, television, and the media in the manner at which we do. When someone comes in and speaks of all of these horrible things that Americans are saying and doing, it would be easy for them to believe, because of lack of information. We as Americans have to be careful with our actions and our words, because just as much “ammo” as they are giving us with their actions, we are giving them with our response.

We see this on our own streets in America all of the time with gangs. These gang organizations target young people, who do not have much. They bring them into their gang and create a “family”. You have to show your commitment to them through running guns, selling drugs, fighting, murder, etc. Gang organizations are able to justify their actions because of poverty and the belief that no one is looking out for them. By breaking it down in that manner, and looking at it from that perspective, it made it easier for me to understand. My big question, and one that I hope this class will be able to give me a better understanding of is how do we defeat it? How do we really defeat an ideology?

I wish you all the best of luck as we start out this course, and I look forward to working with you all throughout.


Reicher, S. and Haslam, A. (2016). Fueling Terror: How Extremists Are Made. Retrieved on: 01 October 2018. Retrieved from:https://apus.intelluslearning.com/lti/#/document/156376786/1/19537b5943605d0c7c86b5e574e6486e/4acff20621ef925b28c5f9a20a951648/browse_published_content/11516/51712/92109/1/lesson/lesson?hideClose=false&tagId=58886&external_course_id=377211&external_course_name=HLSS154%20B003%20Fall%2018

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