Abstract

This study is focusing on developing a system that can be
used to develop a way to properly profile a person capable of committing
terrorist attacks. There are various explanations that can be used to explain
the reasons for why people resort to terrorism, an explanation being terror
management and selective moral disengagement. There seems to be a correlation
between a person leaving a legacy behind and getting the message across as a
motivator for terrorism.

 

Keywords: Domestic terrorism, Profiling, motivations,

Domestic Terrorism:

          Profiling and Motivations

Terrorism has been a problem in many countries across the
globe for any years, some attacks more elaborate than others. In the United
States the problem of terrorism is a concept that people did not really pay any
attention to because it was a foreign concept to most of the population.
Although there were attacks they did not happen as often as they do currently.
After the incidents of September 11, 2001 people in the United States started taking
an interest in terrorism, and more research was made on the subject. There has
been an increase in research that is focused on transnational terrorism and how
to profile terrorist on international levels. There are more and more terrorist
attacks that are happening on a national level, attacks that are perpetrated by
people that are born and raised in the United States. The purpose of this
research is to gather information about terrorism that can potentially be used
to help those people that are potentially at risk of being influenced by
terrorism, by establishing a profile. In correctly developing a profile of a
person that can be used to cause the death of so many people, and if that can
be determined it can be used to narrow down a core motivation. “Terrorism is a
strategy of violence designed to promote desired outcomes by instilling fear in
the public at large. Public intimidation is a key element that distinguishes
terrorist violence from other forms of violence” (Bandura, 2004, pg. 122).

Literature Review

Key definitions

Terrorism has been a term
that does not have a definition that can be used universally to apply to all
situations. For the purposes of this research the definition for domestic
terrorism will be used, the one that is provided by the Federal Bureau of
Investigation which defines it as actions “Perpetrated by individuals
and/or groups inspired by or associated with primarily U.S.-based movements
that espouse extremist ideologies of a political, religious, social, racial, or
environmental nature” (FBI).When it comes
to home grown terrorist which can also be classified as extreme far-right crimes,
we will use the following classifications

“… two
criteria must be satisfied. First, behaviorally a violent act… must have been
committed inside the United States… Second, attitudinally at the time of the
incident at least one of the suspects who committed this act must have
subscribed to a far-right belief system” (Chermak, S. M., Freilich, J. D.,
Parkin, W. S., & Lynch, J. P., 2012, pg. 198).

The
research is based on the attacks that have happened on United States soil, it
is the most appropriate definition to use. As far as terrorist attacks far
right crimes are the ones that are common within the United States, most recent
examples are the incidents that happened in Charlottesville North Carolina, Las
Vegas Nevada and Sutherland Springs Texas just to name a few. Moving forward on this research that is the definition and
the categorization that will be used to classify crimes and individuals to
potentially develop a profile and determine motivations. Although these forms
of crimes are not new crimes, after September 11 some of these types of crimes
have been labeled terrorist attacks. It seems like since the label was put on
these crimes seem to be prevalent in the United States.

Members of society have
always managed to develop a way of profiling individuals they think can do them
harm. Some profile unconsciously based on a preexisting stereotype and others
are taught to view certain people with more suspicion than others.
Unfortunately, the Muslim communities have become the target of both types of
profiling (especially after the events of September 11), not only by members of
society but also by the government. Kydd (2011) according to some members of
the government a way to profile a terrorist is through a standard stereotypical
list; they must be men, of Muslim background, from the middle East or from
Northern African counties everyone else not in this category is subject to less
scrutiny. This of course would develop into a society based on racism and
against a nations core principle and the bases of society. As it was also
mentioned by Kydd (2011) this form of profiling “…would be easily
circumvented by terrorist groups switching to people not likely to get searched
under the profiling scheme” (pg. 459) which shows the ineffectiveness of
this way of profiling. According to a research that was conducted by Smith and
Morgan (1994) where it was seen that who most people view to be terrorist are
not really. A good percentage of people thought that terrorists were young
people from well-educated families which turned out not to be completely the case.
According to that study it seems that terrorists seem to be on the older side
when it comes to age. The study also highlighted that when it comes to domestic
terrorism the Muslim communities are less likely to commit these types of
crimes than other non-Muslim members of society.

Theories for
terrorism

 

There are various theories that can be used to explain the
reason why people resort to domestic terrorism as a way of getting their point
across. One of the theories that will be used to explain this is terror
management theory. Some people feel like that they need to accomplish something
worth-wild in their lives, a legacy that they need to leave behind before they
die. They have this idea that an extreme action would allow their names to be infamous
and show everyone that they are strong and worthy of being heard. Pyszczynski,
et al (2008) when a person feels like that they have been treated in a way they
consider to be beneath how they see themselves in society than the only option
that they see to solve the problem is to cause violence and destruction to
those that they feel have wronged them to settle the problem. By displaying the
violence on a large scale for many to see these people feel like they leave
something behind, something that people will talk about for a long time. Terror
management can be used to explain one aspect of the reasons a person commits
terrorist acts, it also seems like a good way to develop a profile and to find
the motivations of a person.

Another theory that can be used to explain the reason why
people resort to terrorism is moral disengagement, more precisely selective
moral disengagement. People can commit these acts because they have developed a
moral justification about what they are doing, or what they are going to do. In
other words, if the person can justify the reasons why they need to take the
lives of many than they can live with that decision, some justifications could
include religion, a social cause, or just something that needs to be done.
Bandura (2004) a person can be essentially socially modified to take lives and
find justification in these actions. No matter the reason that they are
fighting for the person can set good reasons and in their minds, they can be
completely justifiable in taking so many lives. A person that is prone to
fanaticism is a trait that terrorist can have, and the reason that moves their
actions. A person that is a fanatic on something can be easily manipulated into
doing certain things.

Research Design and Methods        

Research Question

 

What this research is attempting to answer is if there a is
a method that can be developed that can potentially correctly profile a person
that is a capable of committing terrorist acts on a national level. If a system
like this can be designed can it also lead to a way of correctly determining
the person’s motivations?

Methods and Data Collection

 

The methods that was used for
this research is the qualitative method of research, unfortunately there is no
way that a mathematical approach can be used to answer the question. The
research consisted of analyses of secondary literature that was written on the
subject, and various media outlets that have discussed this matter. There is
also an analysis of theories that can be used to best explain some of the
motivations that people have for perpetrating events that essentially kill
many.

Limitations

 

One of the limitations of this
research is that there is little research that has been done on the subject,
especially within the United States. The interest of research on terrorism
increased after the events of September 11. Considering the population that is
being studied it is difficult to get first-hand information on the matter, so
the data that is gathered from a secondary source may not be a clear reflection
on the subject. Since some of the data collected come from government sources
there is no way of confirming if the data shown is complete and a true
representation on the matter. A third limitation for this research is that
there is no one definition for terrorism that applies to all areas, which makes
it difficult for profiling and motivations. The results of this research are
not generalizable, since it is focused on the United States the information may
not apply other countries.

Analysis

Due to the nature of the subject
and the ever change in social structure and political environment it is
becoming a problem in trying to accurately profile and individual who can be
capable of terrorism. Unfortunately, at this moment in time a profile of a domestic
terrorist can essentially feel stereotypical. A way that an accurate profile
can be made is providing certain tests that people can take to narrow down if
the person has a likelihood of committing terrorist acts. These exams can be
given in various venues through social programs, schools and other social media
platforms. The results of these exams or questionnaire can then be used to
gather information to someday build a proper system. A common motivator seems
to be that the person feels like they need to be heard to make a point on the
whatever belief they feel is being ignored by the rest of the population.
Although it seems like religion plays a large role in the matter it seems that
social standing plays an even larger role. In the United States it seems like
the people who are committing these crimes want to essentially get back at a
person who did something wrong to them. If the person can emotionally and
mentally justify their actions this allows them to do what they feel needs to
be done, even if they must kill many in the process.

Conclusion

 There needs to be further research done on the
subject to properly develop a system that can be effective in finding those
people in our society that are at risk to terrorism.  Terrorism is a problem that is a global issue
even when we use the term domestic terrorism on some scale this also effects
people on a global level.  As mentioned
before further research on the subject matter would eventually help to clarify
the many questions that we have on the subject, and someday it may lead to
preemptively stopping attacks from happening. This may lead to people that need
help to get the help that they need before they kill many just to get a point
across.