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What are the Motives of Terrorism?

Updated on December 15, 2010


Good Question


The motivation of terrorists are quite various depending on what they hope to accomplish.  What sets terrorism apart from random acts of violence in the usually political objective that are pursued through threats and coercion which are often backed by violence.  It may seem indiscriminate in that it targets locations where civilians gather rather than military targets as conventional forces would.  For example targeting election polling sites would discourage people from voting.  Targeting a government building would discourage citizens from working for or with the government as it puts them at risk.  Many times the terrorist is more concerned with getting attention for their cause which our news networks readily provide without realizing that The Media Supports Terrorism and enemies of the USA by giving attention to their cause. 


People often confuse insurgency with terrorism because insurgents often resort to terrorist tactics such as bombings and kidnappings.  The difference is that insurgency intends to overthrow or replace an existing government while terrorism intends to affect the government’s actions, perhaps a change in policy, better treatment of a minority group (think Black Panther Movement).  The Boston Tea Party was an act of financial terrorism targeting the revenue the English were generating from the taxes they imposed.  This particular act was actually carried out by fledgling insurgents while the entire revolutionary war was fought by American insurgents utilizing guerilla warfare tactics.  Today the Taliban are attempting to regain control of Afghanistan which they previously had under the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.  They are actually insurgents utilizing terrorist tactics to embarrass and demonstrate the incompetence of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.  They are actually among a dozen or so militant and insurgent organizations operating in the area, but most Americans don’t know the difference between Al Qaeda, Taliban and Haqqani.  Nor do they know the difference between those organizations and regular Muslims who are among the most peaceful people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my life.  The truth is Good Muslisms = Bad Terrorists


In any case, we can’t terrorize terrorists, beheading Bin Laden on Youtube just wouldn’t be good PR for the good ol’ U.S. of A.  but that’s another rant. 


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    • profile image

      Johnk689 3 years ago

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    • Lance Crowe profile image

      Lance Crowe 5 years ago


      You're absolutely right. The atomic bomb was a military measure that worked not by decimating the Japanese army, but rather by scaring them. The funny thing is that their attack on Pearl Harbor was intended to be such a devastating blow that the US would would cringe at the thought of going to war with them. They were actually trying to keep us out of the Western Pacific. They incorrectly how the US would respond to such a scenario. They were victims of something called "mirror imaging" wherein the analyst expects the enemy to do something that they would do because this is the only scenario that makes sense to them.

    • binwaayeel profile image

      binwaayeel 5 years ago from kenya

      first,we must define what means terrorism.

      second, if you kill 250000 japanese civilians you are warior, but if you kill 2 american civilians you are terrorist....fair...

    • Lance Crowe profile image

      Lance Crowe 7 years ago


      Nice to see someone who knows the difference well enough to recognise it for what it is and thinks for themselves rather than getting all spun up by what the media tells everyone to think.

    • GavNugent profile image

      Gavin Nugent 7 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      Very good article! Nice to see someone who knows what terrorism is, outside the media sensationalist bull! Check out my article on State Terror if you like!