In this 21st century, people are living in a well secure environment; the only fear to people is the threat of terrorism. According to the official FBI definition, terrorism is: "the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives." The objective of terrorism may be to gain publicity for some cause, or the desire to obtain concessions or bring about social change. As Long (1990) has pointed out, however, there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism.
Terrorism may be motivated by political, religious, or ideological objectives. In a sense, terrorist goals are always political, as extremists driven by religious or ideological beliefs usually seek political power to compel society to conform to their views. Psychological motivation for terrorism derives from the terrorist's personal dissatisfaction with his life and accomplishments.
Although no clear psychopathy is found among terrorists, there is a nearly universal element in them that can be described as the "true believer". Terrorists do not even consider that they may be wrong and that others' views may have some merit. Terrorists tend to project their own antisocial motivations onto others, creating a polarized "we versus they" outlook. They attribute only evil motives to anyone outside their own group. This enables the terrorists to dehumanize their victims and removes any sense of ambiguity from their minds. The other common characteristic of the psychologically motivated terrorist is the pronounced need to belong to a group. With some terrorists, group acceptance is a stronger motivator than the stated political objectives of the organization. Such individuals define their social statues by group acceptance.
Before exploring psychological approaches to the specific problem of terrorist violence, it may be helpful first to...