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Why Do Terrorists Betray Their Own Religious Cause?

  • Author(s): Pearlson, Michael A
  • et al.
Abstract

Why do Islamic terrorist groups betray their original mission and religious ideology? In this paper, I assert that when Islamic terrorist organizations perceive a threat, their goals are likely to change from fulfilling their original mission and religious ideology to simply perpetuating their own organization. In other words, Islamic terrorist organizations emerge with a fixed mission (often times this involves serving a particular population) and religious ideology (a religious cause central to the group’s mission) and over time betray these causes because they feel threatened by entities outside the organization. These organizations can betray their original cause (hereafter, cause will refer to both mission and religious ideology) in two ways: by disregarding their religious ideology or by abandoning the original population or territory they wished to serve and protect. After this point, organizations specifically focus on perpetuating the organization itself. Throughout this change process, the Islamic terrorist organization reaches its terminus, in which it primarily serves its own interest, through three stages: (1) the organization is initiated with a fixed mission and religious ideology, (2) it perceives a threat to its survival and consequently abandons its original cause, and (3) it then perpetrates and takes actions that are, for the most part, for the financial benefit of the organization itself rather than the original cause that was the basis of the organization’s conception.

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