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What Motivates Jihadi Terrorism?

Today, Jihadi terrorism is one of the major threats to the global security. Terror attacks that have occurred in the course of the last decade have revealed the fact that not a single country can stay secure in face of Jihadi terrorism. Moreover, today, it is possible to trace a strong trend to the increase of the number of terror attacks, whereas many clandestine organizations view terrorism, including Jihadi terrorism and other forms of suicidal terrorism, as the main method of struggle to reach their goals. At the same time, the world community headed by the US has launched the war on terror, while governments confronting terrorism at the local level, such as Israel, Afghanistan and others attempt to solve the problem of suicidal and Jihadi terrorism as well. However, in spite of almost ten years of the war on terror and the struggle against Jihadi terrorism specifically, there are a few positive results and, what is more, the question concerning causes and motives of Jihadi terrorism still remain unanswered, at least for the public. In such a context, it is extremely important to analyze in details major motives of Jihadi terrorism to explain this phenomenon because understanding motives will help to understand causes and way of thinking of Jihadi terrorists that will help to prevent Jihadi terrorism and elaborate an effective strategy that can help to eliminate causes of Jihadi terrorism and make potential terrorist unmotivated to commit acts of Jihadi terrorism.

Specificities of the cultural background of Jihadi terrorists

In fact, judging from the name and essence of Jihadi terrorism, this terrorist movement is inherently Islamic and, therefore, it is mainly Muslim countries that generate Jihadi terrorism or countries, where there are Muslim communities. At the same time, it is obvious that today Jihadi terrorism is spread worldwide. Therefore, it is impossible to limit Jihadi terrorism to Muslim countries or communities alone. Nevertheless, it is still important to understand the cultural background of Jihadi terorirsm because cultural norms and traditions have a considerable impact on individuals and terrorist can hardly be an exception. Therefore, to understand motives of Jihadi terrorism, it is necessary to briefly dwell upon the cultural background of Jihadi terrorists, their cultural norms and traditions, which shape their personal philosophy, which admits committing suicide terror attacks.First of all, the impact of Islam is very significant in Jihadi terrorism (DiGiovanni, 199). In fact, it is Islam that lays the ideological ground to Jihadi terrorism or, at least, provides terrorist organizations with fundamental ideas to interpret Islamic norms to explain and justify Jihadi terrorism. Jihad is an Islamic term, which is a religious duty of Muslims. Literally, Jihad means struggle, which implies the struggle of Muslims against infidels as one of the major duties of Muslims. In such a way, Islam is a teaching, which promotes the struggle against infidel and promises rewards for Jihad terrorists in the afterlife in terms of Jihad. However, Islam fails to lay the clear ground for Jihadi terrorism as a form of suicide terrorism. What is meant here is the fact that Islam does not contain direct implications to commit suicide attacks to carry on the struggle of Muslims against infidel.

In actuality, Jihadi terrorism is the interpretation of basic Islamic norms and rules by terrorist organizations to justify their methods of struggle. In fact, many terrorist organizations attempt to present terrorist attacks as one of the tools, which serves to interests of Islam and what is more many organizations present Jihad as the struggle that involves self-sacrifice of Muslims, including suicide terror attacks. In such a way, terrorist organizations tend to radicalize traditional Islamic norms and rules, including Jihad, which include basic duties of Muslims, to organize terrorist struggle, which involves suicide terror attacks.

In such a way, Jihadi terrorism emerges in the context of Islam but it is not promoted by Islam but Islam rather serves as the ideological basis on the ground of which terrorist organizations suggest their interpretations of Jihad to motivate their followers to conduct terror attacks. Jihadi terrorists are, as a rule, believers of Islam, who follow Islamic religious norms and rules and they view Jihad as a part of their lifestyle. Therefore, Jihadi terrorism becomes the movement, which takes basic ideas from Islam but interprets them and adapts to its own needs to reach goals set by terrorist organizations.

Jihadi terrorism as the manifestation of suicide terrorism

At the same time, in spite of socio-cultural specificities of Jihadi terrorism, it is still one of the movements within the framework of suicide terrorism. Terrorist organizations developing the concept of Jihadi terrorism stand on the ground of Islam but they still focus on the concept of suicide terrorism as the core method of terrorist struggle. In fact, Jihadi terrorist organizations promote the idea of suicide terror attacks as one of the major methods of Jihadi terrorism but, as a rule, they aim Jihadi terror attacks against infidels and forces that support infidels. Nevertheless, Jihadi terrorist organizations still have to use the same motivators as other terrorist organizations conducting and promoting suicide terror attacks.

Therefore, Jihadi terrorism still has a common ground with other manifestations of suicide terrorism. Jihadi terrorists come prepared to sacrifice their life for the sake of goals promoted by their terrorist organizations. Naturally, Jihadi terrorists believe sincerely in goals and ideas promoted by their terrorist organizations. However, they still have to be motivated strongly by their terrorist organizations. Otherwise, they would be unable to commit suicide terror attack as the major tool of Jihadi terrorism.

Motive of individual self-sacrifice and martyrdom

Taking into consideration the background of Jihadi terrorism, including its Islamic roots and suicide terrorism framework, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that one of the major motives of Jihadi terrorism is the individual self-sacrifice and martyrdom. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that individuals are motivated to commit suicide terror attacks because they are willing to become martyrs. In fact, Jihadi terrorism justifies suicide terrorism by the idea of scarifying one’s life for the sake of Muslims, their country, people, family, and other meaningful people. In such a way, committing a Jihadi terrorist act becomes the great honor for terrorists because Muslims traditionally feel the great respect in relation to martyrs and becoming a martyr is the greatest honor for a Muslim. Therefore, terrorist organizations promote the idea of martyrdom to attract terrorists, who can commit suicide terror attacks in terms of Jihadi terrorism.

In this regard, many people need self-sacrifice. As a rule, this need originates from the socio-cultural background of individuals. For instance, many oriental cultures are consistently less individualistic then western ones. As a result, the idea of self-sacrifice of an individual for the sake of his or her community is a strong motivator for them. Hence, many Jihadi terrorists originate from oriental countries or communities. In such a way, they take self-sacrifice for granted and, what is more, this is the great honor for them to die for their people. If such self-sacrifice opens the way to martyrdom, Jihadi terrorists become highly motivated to commit suicide terror attacks. In such a way, Jihadi terrorism uses the readiness of individuals to self-sacrifice and martyrdom as the motivator to commit suicide terror attacks.

Personal motives

Along with the impact of terrorist organizations, their ideology and motivators they use to make their followers and members to commit a suicide terror attack, it is necessary to take into consideration personal motives. In fact, specialists (Beverly, 109) argue that without personal motivation, terrorist organizations could hardly be successful in Jihadi terrorism. Obviously, individuals cannot always commit a suicide terror attack, if they are personally unmotivated or have no personal reasons to commit a deadly terror attack. In this regard, specialists (Juergensmeyer, 105) point out that Jihadi terrorists commit terror attacks having strong personal motives. For instance, the revenge on the death of family members, friends, and other meaningful people may be a strong personal reason to commit a terror attack. Many people have lost their relatives in the result of military actions, or repressions from the part of the government, or other actions. In such a situation, individuals are overwhelmed with grief and anger and their primary desire is to revenge on those, whom they blame of the death of their relatives. As a result, they readily join terror organizations to commit suicide terror attacks. They view Jihadi terrorism as the tool to revenge. Therefore, they come prepared to commit suicide, when they join Jihadi terrorist organizations.

In fact, personal motives are very important for the development of Jihadi terrorism because they encourage people to commit suicide terror attacks. Personal motives may vary consistently but they are very strong and effective. In such a way, Jihadi terrorist organizations recruit individuals, who have strong personal motives to commit suicide terror attacks. Jihadi terrorism progresses in regions, where military or political conflicts affect consistently the life of people. For instance, many Jihadi terrorists originate from countries, where wars take place. At the same time, many immigrants, who escaped from war in their countries also joined many terrorist organizations and committed Jihadi terrorist attacks. In such a way, they suffer from negative effects of military actions on their psychology and personal philosophy. Specialists (Gerges, 98) stress the negative impact of military experience or involvement of individuals in violent actions may provoke serious psychological problems that may motivate people to participate in Jihadi terrorism.

Ideological motives

Furthermore, ideology plays an important part in the emergence of Jihadi terrorism. In fact, the development of Jihadi terrorism is impossible without the ideological ground because ideology contributes to the strong motivation of terrorists. What is meant here is the fact that Jihadi terrorists need some justification of their actions. In this regard, they need to have clear goals, reasons and motivation to justify their struggle. In such a way, ideology helps Jihadi terrorist organization to create the clear concept on the ground of which they can unite people and encourage their followers and members to commit terror attacks. Therefore, ideology is essential for the motivation of Jihadi terrorists.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that the idea of the struggle against infidel is one of the fundamental ideas of Jihadi terrorism. To put it more precisely, Jihadi terrorism focuses on the struggle against infidel because Jihadi terrorist organizations stand on the ground of Islam. At any rate, they attempt to justify their terrorist actions by Islamic norms and concepts. Hence, they use Jihad as the ground for their terrorist ideology. Jihadi terrorist organizations present Jihadi terrorism as a part of Jihad. Therefore, members and followers of Jihadi terrorist organizations view terrorist actions as a part of Jihad, i.e. as a part of their duties as Muslims. In such a way, the ideology of Jihadi terrorism is closely intertwined with Islam and religious roots are strong motivators for Jihadi terrorists, who are religious people. In fact, being religious, Jihadi terrorists cannot disobey to what they believe to be their duty as Muslims and they view terrorism as a just method of their struggle, whereas they percieve Jihadi terrorist attacks as the way to martyrdom.

At the same time, Jihadi terrorism is a particularly strong ideological ground in regions vulnerable to military actions, involving local military and national forces of oriental countries and the western coalition headed by the US. In this regard, it is possible to refer to the case of Iraq or Afghanistan, where the US and its allies are perceived as occupants. In such a context, the liberation of the sacred land from foreign occupation becomes a strong motivator and one of the fundamental concepts of Jihadi terrorism. In fact, the foreign occupation justifies Jihadi terrorism as the effective tool of the struggle of Muslims against infidels to liberate their motherland and sacred lands.

Moreover, the struggle against westernization of the society has become one of the fundamental concepts in the ideology of Jihadi terrorism because many oriental countries, where Islam is deep-rooted, western influences grow stronger and Jihadi terrorist organizations either attempt to change the policy conducted by the local government or to liberate their country from the domination of a western power, such as the US, for instance. In actuality, the idea of the struggle against westernization is growing more and more popular in many countries, especially where Islam holds a strong position because Islamic culture is totally different from western one. The process of globalization contributes to the fast spread of western culture and western lifestyle worldwide. In such a situation, Muslim countries attempt to resist to the fast westernization because western culture and lifestyle is different from the traditional lifestyle and culture. As a result, Islamic countries face the conflict between traditional lifestyle and cultural norms and the growing impact of western culture and lifestyle. In such a situation, Muslim countries cannot always resist to the growing impact of western culture. In response to the growing westernization of Muslim societies, Jihadi terrorist organizations unite their efforts in the struggle against westernization. To put it more precisely, they make the struggle against westernization of the society making this struggle a core of the ideology of these organizations. In addition, they use traditional Islamic norms and principles to create the ideological ground for their terrorist activities. Remarkably, Jihadi terrorist organizations find considerable support in Islamic countries due to the desire of considerable part of the population to maintain the traditional lifestyle, whereas westernization is offensive for the conservative part of the society. As a result, Jihadi terrorist organizations develop the ideology of the struggle against westernization, whereas they unite their members on the ground of the idea that Jihadi terrorism is the shield against westernization. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that many people support the idea of the protection of Islamic culture against westernization and Jihadi terrorism supplying Jihadi terrorist organizations with new members, who are highly motivated believing they are protectors of Islam.

Political motives

Along with ideological motives, Jihad terrorism has the political ground as well. In actuality, Jihad terrorism has political roots, although it seems to have religious background. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that Jihadi terrorism raises political slogans and defines political demands as a part of their struggle.

In actuality, Jihadi terrorism becomes a tool of the political struggle. What is meant here is the fact that Jihadi terrorist organizations set political goals to reach, whereas political goals imply the development of the political program, which Jihadi terrorist organizations attempt to reach in their struggle. At the same time, terrorist political goals and political programs of Jihadi terrorist organizations derive from the environment, in which terrorist organizations operate. In other words, Jihadi terrorist organizations resist to the government that holds the political control or struggle against any political power that contradicts to their political goals and principles. In this regard, political programs and goals of Jihadi terrorist organizations often match political expectations of many people, some of whom can join Jihadi terrorist organizations of political reasons. For instance, people may believe that Jihadi terrorist organizations can reach their political goals and bring better life to the society. At this point, specialists (DiGiovanni, 185) argue that often Jihadi terrorist organizations often use populist ideas to attract a possibly larger number of people. They set political goals, which attract people. However, it is obvious that populist ideas can attract people but it is also obvious that they are not enough to make people die for these goals. At this point, it is necessary to take into consideration the environment, in which people supporting Jihadi terrorist organizations. Often, members of Jihadi terrorist organizations live in the tensed political environment, in which people cannot afford living in the political regime, which make the life of average people unbearable. For instance, there may be repressive regimes, which do not just oppress basic rights and liberties of people but also execute opponents of the regimes. In such a situation, people are ready to sacrifice their own life for the sake of overthrowing such regimes and they join readily Jihadi terrorist organizations for they believe that Jihadi terrorist acts can improve consistently the political situation and the life of their people, if Jihadi terrorist organizations reach their political goals.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that many Jihad terrorist organizations have their political wings and they use the threat of Jihad terrorism in their political struggle. Terrorist organizations develop their political parties and start political struggle as a part of their activities. In such a way, they combine the formal political struggle, which they back up with Jihadi terrorist activities. In such a situation, the involvement of Jihadi terrorist organizations give them legal ground for their struggle and motivate their members to commit Jihadi terrorist act, if they are eager supporters of political goals of their terrorist organizations and their ideology. Therefore, political goals and struggle of Jihadi terrorist organizations come hand in hand with their ideology and other motivators, which encourage their members to commit Jihadi terror attacks.

As it has been already mentioned above, Jihadi terrorism may have political goals. These goals may include such goals as the government change or wider representation of certain religious or ethnic groups in the political life of the society. At this point, specialists (Hamblen, 149) stress the fact that Jihadi terrorist organizations always struggle against a government. The government they struggle against may vary. For instance, they may struggle against the government in their country or they may struggle against the government they consider to be hostile and dangerous for their country. The struggle against the government is the core of Jihadi terrorism because terrorists want to raise people against the government and, thus, they can reach their goals. In such a situation, Jihadi terrorist organizations choose goals which are strong enough to motivate people to commit Jihadi terror attacks. As a rule, they promise wealth and prosperity to nations of Jihadi terrorists and promise them that they will be heroes for their people, as they commit Jihadi terror attacks.

In terms of the political struggle, Jihadi terrorism takes inspiration from the prospect to avenge perceived injustices in order to maintain internal loyalty and cohesion as well as popular support. What is meant here is the fact that Jihadi terrorist organizations present themselves as organizations struggling against injustices. Their followers commit Jihadi terror attacks because they believe they reestablish justice in their country and help other people. They believe sincerely that their goal is right that motivates them to commit terror attacks.

At the same time, terrorists have learned that their terror attacks pay, i.e. they bring positive effects and help terrorist organizations to reach their goals (Pape, 2003). Pape (2003) refers to cases of suicide terror attacks in Israeli-Palestinian conflict and draws other examples of positive effects of suicide terror attacks, which encourage Jihadi terrorists to commit their terror attacks. Jihadi terrorism is a strategy of coercion, a means to compel a target government to change the policy (Pape, 2003). Through terror attacks, Jihadi terrorists either force the government to change the policy or raise the public against the government to change the policy. In such a way, Jihadi terrorist organizations persuade their followers that suicide terror attacks will contribute to positive changes in their country and their people will live better that naturally motivates terrorists strongly to sacrifice their life for the sake of their people.

Jihadi terrorism as response to West-East juxtaposition

Today, Jihadi terrorism enters at the international level as the process of globalization affects consistently Muslim countries, where Jihad actually originates. Globalization is accompanied by westernization of Muslim societies and Muslims believe that Jihadi terrorism is a part of Jihad, i.e. their duty as Muslims. In case of the struggle with westernization, Jihad terrorism becomes an effective tool to the US as the only superpower in the world. Jihadi terrorism shapes the US and western countries as evil and followers of Jihadi terrorist organizations believe they struggle against evil as they commit their terror attacks.

In actuality, the US is the only superpower that applies its political, economic and military power to oppress and destroy any disloyal regime. In such a situation, Jihadi terrorists believe they oppose to the superpower using means that are available to them and, what is more, terrorism is the only tool they can use effectively. They cannot launch the open military struggle against the US because they will definitely lose. Hence, any individual, who is ready and eager to fight against foreign oppression, chooses Jihadi terrorism because it is the only means they can use. Therefore, the struggle against the US becomes the sacred struggle against the evil.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that national interests of the US may interfere in the internal affairs of Muslim countries provoking Jihad terrorism. People start resisting to westernization and Jihad terrorism becomes the main tool they can use effectively to stop the US expansion because Muslim countries, as well as other countries of the world, cannot resist to the US in the open political, economic or military struggle. Instead, Jihad terrorism is an effective tool that makes the US extremely vulnerable to terror attacks and raises the public opinion in the US to take into consideration the position of terrorist. Recent examples in Iraq or Afghanistan reveal the full extent to which people are motivated to struggle against the US and its allies to maintain the traditional lifestyle and Jihadi terrorists are motivated to struggle because they believe they are struggling against evil that threatens to their people and traditional lifestyle.

Provocation of government over-reaction

At the same time, specialists (Stern, 188) point out that Jihadi terrorists may have more pragmatic motivation for the main point of Jihadi terrorism is to make the government to change its policies and to change the situation in the country, where terrorist organizations operate in. In this regard, provoking the government over-reaction is one of the main goals and motivators of Jihadi terrorism. The government over-reaction can raise the public against the government and, thus, Jihadi terrorists reach their goals launching the large scale struggle against the government or other forces they are struggling again. Therefore, Jihadi terror attack is a sparkle that starts the fire of the large-scale struggle of the society against the government or other forces.

Socioeconomic factors

Finally, socioeconomic factors are strong motivators contributing to the emergence of Jihadi terrorism. Poor countries and people living in poverty are the main source of Jihadi terrorists. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the fact that people live in poverty and their position is desperate that makes them capable to commit desperate acts, including suicide terror attacks. People have nothing to lose, therefore, they can join Jihadi terror organizations and sacrifice their life for the sake of their people, families, and children because they believe they can change the life of their people for better.

On the other hand, Jihadi terrorist expect high rewards for their death being paid off to their family members. Therefore, Jihadi terror attacks are the means to provide for their families for the rest of their life as they expect. They believe the self-sacrifice will help to improve socioeconomic situation in their country. In such a way, they expect for positive changes for their families and their people that are strong motivators for their success.

Conclusion

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that Jihadi terrorism emerges because people supporting Jihadi terrorism have high motivation. In this regard, it is worth mentioning political, ideological, socio-cultural, socioeconomic and other motivators that contribute to the readiness of Jihadi terrorists to sacrifice their life. In addition, Jihadi terrorism motivates its followers to commit terror attacks because terrorists believe they will become martyrs. In such a way, Jihadi terrorists are eager to become martyrs and they are ready for self-sacrifice.

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