Terrorists are individuals who choose to express their beliefs through violence, which often result in the deaths of innocent individuals. The motivation behind acts of terror lies behind the ideologies the terrorists carry. Some acts of terror target people of given religions while others target political figures; either way, innocent people are usually trapped and harmed during these acts. It is essential to analyze the differences in their ideologies, to aid the war against terrorism. Terrorists do not fear death; some choose to die during the attack, considering themselves as martyrs. There, however, is a question whether terrorists are martyrs and not. It, therefore, is important to establish whether what terrorists do fits the description of martyrdom and if martyrdom acts are insane and rational or rational and sane.
Differences in ideologies that might force individuals to commit terroristic acts
Terrorism is an extreme and atrocious form of expression; this act devalues democracy, humanity, and civilization. A difference in ideologies is the cause of terrorism; it is through these thoughts that terror acquires credibility in the mind of an individual (Ahmad, 2001). Such ideologies include religious differences, social differences, and the lack of faith in the law systems. The motivation behind a terrorist’s ideology influences their operations, especially the outcome in regards to the number of casualties. Terrorists whose ideologies lie behind their religious affiliations attempt to involve as many victims as possible. Their minds are set, and they believe that the loss of lives, especially those of a different religion from theirs are irrelevant. Such terrorists believe that their religion is superior to others and will attempt to punish those of a different opinion through acts of terror. This, they consider their moral and religious duty.
Terrorists with non-religious and secular ideologies often commit their acts of violence selectively; they are usually motivated to achieve a specified social or political goal. They usually limit their act and try to minimize the number of victims involved; they are usually careful not to jeopardize economic and political support. The aim of terrorists with this ideology is to air their grievances while avoiding a backlash that may damage their reputation. These terrorists do not believe in the law yet claim to be aggrieved by the systems of governance (Adams, Balfour, & Reed, 2006). They believe that violence attracts the attention of the political systems; their ideology is that acts of terrorism resolve conflicts when in reality they create new differences.
Target selection among terrorists is a reflection of motivation and ideology behind a given attack. Terrorist groups with political motivations, for example, will have targets that symbolism a form of authority. Such targets may include embassies, government buildings, multinational corporations, or national airlines. Their attacks are usually directed to people they believe exploit them economically or those oppress them politically (Ahmad, 2001). Terrorists with religious motivations, in contrast, target places such as religious centers, or a place where people of various religious backgrounds are likely to gather such as trade centers. Such terrorists commit these acts especially on days when their enemies are likely to feel a significant impact. An example of such is when worship centers conduct their activities or on weekends when most people visit trade centers.
Terrorists and martyrdom
A martyr is defined as a person willing to give up life to satisfy their beliefs. The term martyr also refers to a person whose death shows the truth about a given belief. A martyr, through their death, intends to crown innocence and bring glory upon martyrdom. Terrorists are individuals with different ideologies, which motivate their actions; these ideologies are selfish and psycho-motivated. These beliefs, besides, lead to mass destruction and the murder of innocent people. Terrorists, therefore, are not martyrs; their actions cause more harm than good. A terrorist also believe that their death is a crucial part of their act contrary to the belief that it is an incidental cost (Guss, Tuason, & Teixeira, 2007).
An example of a group of terrorists who die for beliefs is suicide bombers. These terrorists carry bombs around their bodies and are sent to a selected target to carry out an attack. This case presents an individual well aware that they will die during such an operation but are inconsiderate of the idea.
Acts of terrorism create massacres hence terrorists cannot be viewed as martyrdom. Massacre results in the deaths of many individuals regardless of their gender or age. Children are also usually caught up in the acts of terror. These acts defy the definition of a martyr; martyrs die for a worthy cause but do not cause the deaths of people. Terrorists such as suicide bombers, usually make videos or photographs, especially before an attack, to mock the gift of life. They kill people with premeditated cruelty; hence are not martyrs.
Terrorists rationalize death in the face of an enemy as a praiseworthy act and a legitimate tactic in punishing the foes. Additionally, terrorists view themselves as freedom fighters; they argue that sometimes, freedom requires the exercise of a level of violence (Fiala, 2007). Their attacks are passion-driven and calculated. The preparation of a terrorist attack requires a lot of time and resources; thus, they view their death as a sacrifice for their belief. Muslim terrorists, for example, celebrate their death, as they believe it connects them to Allah, a significant figure in this religion.
Terrorists are not martyrs because they fight for a different cause; their actions are aimed at giving a lasting impression to their enemies. Acts of terror are condemnable as they discourage democracy and civilization. Their acts are deliberate and inflict fear among people to strengthen their cause (Nathanson, 2004). Martyrdom acts, in contrast, do not result in the deaths of people; instead, a martyr chooses to die so that a majority of people is freed from a given form of oppression.
Are martyrs sane and rational or insane and irrational?
People who choose to die for what they believe in are sane and rational. Sanity and rationality entails making sacrifices; martyrs are individuals who make sacrifices and suffer or die so that something they believe in is implemented. An example of a martyr is John Brown who died so that slaves would be freed; although he committed some extreme and atrocious acts, his belief was based on a worthy cause. The choice to make a sacrifice for people is rational and promotes fairness and justice among individuals.
A rational and sane being believes in justice and democracy; if they view some systems especially in governance as unjust, their sanity directs them to act. They push for their beliefs to give justice to the oppressed and undermined individuals in the society (Ahmad, 2001). When the bodies responsible for the injustices neglect their calls for action, a little violence may be involved to strengthen their cause. These actions may lead to their execution; this demonstrates their martyrdom in fighting for the rights of many individuals.
Adams, G., Balfour, D., & Reed, G. (2006). Abu Ghraib, administrative evil, andmoral inversion: The value of "putting cruelty first." Public AdministrativeReview, 66(5), 680–693.
Fiala, A. (2007). Crusades, just wars, and the Bush doctrine. Peace Review: AJournal of Social Justice, 19(2), 165–172.
Guss, C. D., Tuason, M. T., & Teixeira, V. B. (2007). A cultural–psychologicaltheory of contemporary Islamic martyrdom. Journal for the Theory ofSocial Behavior, 37(4), 415–445.
Ahmad, E. (2001). Terrorism: Theirs & Ours. NY: Seven Stories Press.
Nathanson, S. (2004). "Prerequisites for Morally Credible Condemnations of Terrorism." Pp. 3-34 in W. Crotty (ed.) The Politics of Terror. Boston: Northeastern Univ. Press.