As I continue learning about terrorists, a discouraging picture is emerging. Terrorism has existed throughout history and likely will continue as long as people feel that violence is the means to enact revenge, achieve glory and/or elicit a reaction that will right a deep wrong. Because terrorists believe they are behaving selflessly, standing up for the victimized, they come to believe that their actions are justified. With the media and amateur bloggers continually feeding images of atrocities to people around the world, the Internet and other digital communications have increased the threat of terrorism.
However, one event or one cause doesn’t underlie all terrorist activities. Terrorists have multiple motives and terrorism is complex.
The more I read, the more I learn, the clearer my American terrorist comes into focus. He is emerging as an intelligent graduate student in the sciences with a strong moral code. Something he sees either in person or in the media will so appall him, he will become radicalized. He will connect with like-minded people, who will encourage him to act. Although his motivation might shift over time, I don’t know yet what drives him.