Comparative analysis of the known main drivers behind acts of terrorism across different countries

Equally to radicalization, there is no single driver or cause for terrorism. In fact, years of research have heralded a plethora of drivers and push and pull factors that have produced “false positives.” That is, what was important for a terrorist’s radicalization process was not important or was not even a factor for other terrorists. As a result, establishing profiles for terrorists has proven an almost impossible task.

Keeping this in mind, the aim of this paper is not to formulate unrealistic profiles of Western terrorists. Rather, it is to provide detailed case studies and biographies, looking for specific drivers that in that particular case were influential. In this process, we would like students to make use of open-source materials and elucidate divergences and commonalities among terrorists (any type of terrorist or terrorist group is welcome). If main trends/commonalities are spotted, we ask students to provide policy suggestions as to how to counter violent radicalization.

In addition to the information on how to write policy papers, here are a few suggestions on what to focus in this scenario:

  1. Definition: Radicalization / Terrorism
  2. Background: Biography of the person in question
  3. Organization’s main interest/objective: depending on the selected role, identify your organization’s main objective
  4. Pre-existing policies: was the person in question on the police’s radar? Does the government already have a plan to address people with the same characteristics?

 ©Michele Groppi, all rights reserved.