Table of Contents
Introduction to Ideologies
The second module, Ideologies and Motivations identifies four major categories of ideology:
- Extremist religious
- Special interest
Ideology is identified as the driving force behind all terrorist groups and movements (Bolton, 2015) and affecting the type of terrorism, the selection of targets for attack and recruitment. A few definitions are provided:
- Ideology – “A systematic body of concepts or beliefs”
- Extremism – “Quality or state of being extreme”
- Fundamentalism – “Stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles”
Left-wing terrorism involves movements like communism (Marxist/Leninist, Trotskyist, Maoist, Castroite/Guevarist), and Anarchists. The goal of Communist terrorism is to produce a classless political system, at least in theory. At the very least, the desire is to overthrow the US government (Seger, 2001) while the goal of anarchist terrorism is simply to produce a world revolution.
Right-wing terrorism emerged in the 1980s and 1990s with the Oklahoma City Bombing being a quintessential example: Timothy McVeigh, a Christian (Prescott, 2010) who hoped to usher in a race war (Knickerbocker, 2015), detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995.
Also included in this group are neo-nazi groups (Daily Record, 2016) and fascism.
This is the most common type of terrorism thought of in modern times. Included in this group is the Christian Identity Movement. The beliefs of this movement include (ADL, 2005):
- Whites/Europeans are God’s chosen people
- Jews are the devil
- Non-whites are “mud people”, worthless
Islamic extremism includes a variety of movements that wish for a version of Islamic law to be applied across the world (Mauro, 2016) The goal is to convert individuals to Islam or to destroy them instead. There is no tolerance for other versions of Islam. Among this list, the most famous is perhaps Al Qaeda, though ISIS/ISIL has become famous in the aftermath of the Iraq War.
Special interest terrorism focuses on issues like the environment or animal rights. Similar to other movements, these groups have engaged in action ranging from letter writing and civil disobedience up to murder and bombings. (Vohryzek-Bolden et. al., 2001)
Other acts of terrorism may be motivated by a desire for fame, by those struggling with mental health issues, or by those fighting for other aims such as separatists or insurgents in an occupied territory.