I’ve just about wrapped up my terrorism research. I’ve learned about some of the commonalities of terrorism across time and cultures, as well as about domestic terrorism, especially trends over the last 50 years. I wasn’t surprised to discover that both left- and right-wing extremists usually had ideological motives. However, contemporary terrorism seems increasingly more personal. Although the individuals might be part of larger organizations with political or
social goals, U.S. terrorists, in particular, tend to act on their own either to seek revenge, get attention or just to gain financially.
In The Roots of Terrorism: Domestic Terrorism, Jack Levin argues that terrorism in the U.S. is symptomatic of the lack of respect and trust for traditional institutions. He points to the esteem (or lack thereof) that people hold the branches of the federal government, media and big business, to name a few. He also believes that the sense of community is eroding, due in part by our mobile society. He certainly doesn’t assert these are the causes, just that these factors help make people’s decisions to engage in terrorist acts easier.
Now that I have the general profile for my terrorist protagonist, he needs a cause. So, this week, I’ll wrap up my general research and begin delving into his – or her – motive.