Ideological Justification of Terrorism as a Political Tool

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-1-47-52

I. Khokhlov (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation 

Abstract. This article continues the topic of the article published in the World Economy and International Relations Journal, no. 5 (2015) “Some Approaches to Interpretation of Terrorism Phenomenon”, which detailed specific aspects of what motivates the lower and mid-level members of terrorist networks to get involved in terrorist activities. For decades, psychologists, political scientists and sociologists have been studying the phenomenon of terrorist activity and the motivation that makes young and often socially successful men and women join terrorist networks. Most experts believe that any explanation of terrorist activity has to be viewed in the social context of terrorists’ beliefs and ideology. These have to be viewed in unique cultural, historical and political contexts. The article shows how the scientific approach toward the issue changed in the second half of the 20th century, and how it has evolved into modern understanding of the phenomenon. In the first part of the article, works of the most “prominent” terrorists – Juan-Carlos Marighella, Ernesto Che Guevara and Osama bin Laden – are analyzed. They were the first to use an organized vilolence to oppose government institutions. Modern terrorists use terror attacks to invoke public protests in societies already strained with political, social and economic conflicts. Such tactics is especially effective against authoritarian regimes that face multiple challenges in domestic and foreign policy. A cumulative effect of terrorist attacks is investigated in the context of modern media. Visual media, including TV and Internet, have contributed greatly to the degree of violent attacks’ influence on public opinion. The article includes the most recent data from the hot spots where terrorist networks have grown after the fall of authoritarian regimes (from Egypt, Tunisia), or where large terrorist organizations have managed to get control over a large portion of territory, thus limiting the power of central government (Syria). The author argues that terrorism is a systemic phenomenon rooted in a set of interdependent and mutually reinforcing factors. In this new article, different elements of this system are analyzed, the ideology of terrorism as seen by experts and the perpetrators themselves is examined. Also the strategy and tactics used, the goals pursued by extremists, the application of new technologies to spread fear are investigated.

Keywords: terrorism, ideology, extremist strategy and tactics 


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For citation:
Khokhlov I. Ideological Justification of Terrorism as a Political Tool. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2017, vol. 61, no. 1, pp. 47-52.

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