Posted: June 18th, 2022
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1. In this week’s forum it discusses two pathways to terrorism explained by Professor Mohammed Hafez at a Congressional Forum on Islam. The first process that is most visible is the top-down process. Hafez describes that this process is utilized by centralized organizations in which they promote radical ideology by utilizing social services. The bottom-up process is when the individual person has some sort or trauma or grievance against someone or something and eventually seek out radical groups. Critical element of the top-down process allows these groups to indoctrinate youth at early ages with radicalization and indoctrination. As where the bottom-process is usually coming from the individuals with a past grievance and may have a problem with their identity. Hafez describes that in both paths it can be both a fast and slow process but is a step by step process that leads the individual to slowly cut their ties to the secular world. Usually there is some sort of friendship that can lead them to a radical group and then often cutting ties with other friends and family. I would have to say the one that would be easier to identify and interdict would be the bottom-up process. This process is what we are typically seeing with domestic and lone wolf terrorists, and although pose a threat they would be easier to stop the radicalization process. There are more models out there for the radicalization process. King describes five radicalization pathways including Borum’s Pathway in which a individual justifies terrorism through “it’s not right” (pg. 604). The other four models are the Wittorowiez’s Theory of Joining Extremist Groups, Modhaddam’s Staircase to Terrorism, and The NYPD’s Radicalization Process (pg. 607).
2. According to Professor Mohammed Hafez, terrorists are not motivated by one catalyst inspiring Muslim’s to commit to jihad (CSIS Forum 2007). Professor Hafez identifies three categories of radicals and two definitive paths to terrorism. The first path being the top-down process is described to be major organizations distributing ideas by the use of public welfare operations to promote extremist ideology (CSIS Forum 2007). Some of the critical elements in these models are demographics, history of violence, government deception, and tyranny from current government policies. People who feel as if there way of life are being threaten have the basic human instincts to fight for their survival (McClauley 2008). That is what I believe has been happening over the years in the Middle-east and Asia. Countries have resources that tend to benefit the elites and politics before it benefits the people. They see the US as the catalyst for these issues because of its wealth and global dominance. There is a competition for survival and right now the US is looking like the team that has all the resources its needs to stay on top.
The bottom up process is less public and stemming from a list of troublesome issues from government and history. There is a network of issues individuals use to motivate their cause to extreme violence, one of the biggest motivators is persecution (McClauley 2008). These same issues can be applied to any of us. If someone committed an act of violence and killed my family I would retaliate. This is common human emotion that can be targeted for recruiting of individuals. That and you add on the belief that a paradise is awaiting you if you successfully kill your enemies you may have a number of followers dedicated to this idea.
Some methods to interdict these paths are severe judicial punishment, the sense of security and the ability to disrupt funding (Berger 2010). Individuals may not tolerate the consequences of being affiliated with an organization that cannot protect its members nor have the funding to carry out their mission objectives. If the laws in a specific country are so severe to thus causing violence this may deter individuals because the cost may be their livelihood and that of their family members.
It may be difficult to assess what solution may be applied to interdict these paths. Specific countries and regions have different laws and regulation that may or may not make it easier to disrupt the pathway to terrorism. From the reading material I believe the bottom up process is easier to interdict because you can track what events that can spark retaliation of a group of individuals. The top-down process presents is obvious and requires detailed observation of what information is being shared. It can prove to be misleading since it is publicly announced and may throw analysts off the and prevent interruption of their operations.
I know there are other models out there leading to terrorism. There are a variety of issues at hand that may force a group of individuals to act against the government, such as politics, race, economy, and social injustices. In truth everyone just wants to ensure they have a future for their perceived way of life and do not want to be manipulated to believing that progress is what is will benefit them the most.
3. Ted Kaczynski driving factor isn’t very clear. Although he felt some sort of resentment. It’s unclear where the feeling came from. He clearly was upset at something dealing with his parents. Could it be his mental illness had some impact in his actions or maybe he legitimately had resentment towards his parents for a reason only he knew. And his parents had forgotten. Maybe it could have been an issue that occurred within his life. Anyone is capable of committing acts of terrorism. Mental issues as we read in the past lessons are not a sole personality. Therefore radicalization should really be viewed as a complex process comprised of behavioral, psychological, economic, social, and political and personal factors that can lead to extremism. In regards of what path seems to best describe it is the Staircase to Terrorism by Moghaddam’s. The following five steps are perceived opinions to fight unfair treatment, displacement of aggression, moral engagement, solidification of categorical thinking and the perceived legitimacy of the terrorist organization, and finally the terrorist act.
Tim McVeigh driving factors consisted of the events that took place in Ruby Ridge and Waco. Those events fueled his feelings of anger and oppression from the government. Although, it originally began with him being discharged from the army. Radicalization specialist often point out the following mixtures of factors that come together to produce extremism: grievance, networks, ideologies, and enabling environments and support structures. In regards of what radicalization process, I think it’s follows Borum’s four stage model into terrorist mindset 2003. The main theoretical underpinning of the model was to demonstrate how grievances can be turned into hatred against a particular group.
4. Ted Kaczynski was an interesting case of homegrown extremism because it is a rare case of a truly independent terrorist. Every model that we have studied points towards a connection with an organization, an inspiration by the rhetoric of an extremist group, or an inspiration caused by a religious teacher. Kaczynski did not fit this profile. Within the case studies, the only reference made to an outside connection with other likeminded believers was extreme left-wing books in Kaczynski’s cabin.
Kaczynski was inspired to violence by what he perceived as a technologically driven world that was controlling its citizens. He believed that people had become robots or slaves to technology. This hatred of technology is what led him to moving to a secluded, wilderness home. The technological injects into that world, such as timber workers and overhead aircraft, became the targets of his violence. “Borum’s Pathway” is the closest radicalization process to explain Ted Kaczynski’s path to violence. He viewed the technological world as the perpetrator and the agrarian world as the victim and more ideal end state. This mimics Borum’s first two steps of judging your situation as unfair and another situation as ideal. Steps three and four are to develop someone to blame and then to vilify that person or persons. Kaczynski blamed technology companies, educational centers, and even the airlines for imposing this world on people (King & Taylor, 2011).
Timothy McVeigh is a dramatically different case because he appears to be a lonewolf terrorist but is actually part of a group. McVeigh’s primary grievance was what he viewed as oppression of American citizens by the federal government. The cases of Ruby Ridge and Waco made McVeigh believe that the government was unjustifiably killing its own citizens. These killings were the result of those citizens exercising their rites to gun ownership, which was an important rite to McVeigh.
The best model to explain McVeigh’s radicalization is “Sageman’s Four Prongs.” Sageman uses three cognitive factors and one physical factor that will lead to violence (King & Taylor, 2011). The cognitive factors existed for McVeigh. The first factor is “moral outrage”. McVeigh was outraged that the federal government would use violence to do acts that he considered to be oppression. The second factor is a “frame to interpret the world”. McVeigh believed that he was a soldier to fight oppression. The third is “personal experience”. The defining experience for McVeigh was joining the Army and then failing out of Special Forces. This created an internal rift between him and the government. The physical factor is “mobilization through networks.” McVeigh met likeminded people in the Army who would eventually become his accomplices. He was also heavily inspired by the book The Turner Diaries. The Diaries is an extreme right-wing book that describes a bombing of a governmental building (Counter Extremism Project).
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