TERROR PSYCHOLOGY: MINDSET OF A JIHADI

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Exclusive: Gina Loudon examines personality factors that contribute to

The attacks in Paris changed the game of terror because ISIS has proven its ability to recruit from local populations to achieve its goals. No longer can a country stay safe by careful scanning of foreign entries. Social media and mass communication have changed all of that. Today, American mothers are shocked to learn that their wayward child has joined ISIS. But who is at risk, and what is the psychology of the recruiting process?

Surprisingly, the Black Lives Matter group, and college protests of everything from 9/11 celebrations to safe spaces, lend some precious insight to the vulnerable. These seemingly hapless acts of those with underdeveloped brains on college campuses illuminate a truth that is well documented in research on terror. The psychology of such tribalistic activities parallels the tribal behavior that Islam uses to recruit, and it thrives for two simple reasons – collectivism and globalism.

No newscaster will admit this, but research proves it out.

Experts offer a number of answers, including that terrorists prey on those who feel disenfranchised, who see themselves as victims or who have the desire to take action and believe in violence.

One thing is certain: For terrorism to have impact, terrorists must find a regular supply of recruits.

Jerrold M. Post of George Washington University suggests Islam, like communism, uses collectivism to convince victims to sacrifice.

He said the recipe for terror includes a combination of the following:

  • a strong sense of victimization,
  • fear of group extinction,
  • a feeling of a higher moral condition than the lives of the enemy, and lack of political power to make the wanted change.

“Being part of a collectivist cause has always been a hallmark of people willing to undergo personal sacrifices,” said Arie Kruglanski, co-director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, or START.

Kruglanski surveyed thousands of Arabs and people from other cultures, and he found that those most likely to support terrorist activities against Americans are indeed those with the strongest collectivist mentality. Kruglanski said the findings suggest that joining terrorist groups may confer a sense of security and meaning that people do not feel as individuals.

Georgetown University’s Fathali Moghaddam suggests globalism and a fear of cultural annihilation has also contributed to the terrorist mentality.

He writes that globalization has forced on many cultures a large-scale neurotic drive to survive. Moghaddam says Islamic terror is a reaction to the fear that the fundamentalist Islamic way of life is under attack.

Moghaddam’s explanation seems to excuse Islam’s use of terror and implies that they are defending themselves and only trying to survive. Perhaps Moghaddam should research the Quran’s teachings on violence and jihad.

Kruganski and others have come up with ideas on how to convince terrorists that they should not use violence.

They are exploring the use of tactics like using moderate Muslim clerics to teach imprisoned detainees about the Quran’s “true teachings” on violence and jihad.

They also suggested showing concern for the families for terror detainees such as funding their children’s education or offering professional training for their wives.