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GNOSIS 2/2006
Terrorism and religion

Emmanuela C. DEL RE

God does not pardon those who kill in his name: It is a simple phrase which could interpreted almost as a tautology of the principles which are the subject of any religious faith, as a natural implication when one believes in the existence of a Being which is superior to terrestrial things and is not subject to the simple human sentiments. However one wishes to interpret it, the circumstance that no God could suggest an instrument like death to impose the faith, or punish the lack of faith, is a concept less evident than it appears, since it was necessary that a Pope, Benedetto XVI, should remind us of it, using the phrase indicated above. But the Pope’s admonition did not arrive by chance: this moment in time risks again to transform fear, uncertainty for the future, hostility towards those who are different from ourselves, into fanaticism and terror. Religious terrorism is a complex and variegated macrocosm, which only the news, in these last years, has accustomed us to file in the ‘desktop’ of our minds, under an icon which recalls an Islamic atmosphere. Instead, one cannot forget that violence is, and always has been, the dark side of every faith. The violence that terrorism suggests in the minds of those who comply with this distorted vision of existence, is the most dangerous kind because it transforms murder (and/or suicide) into a ‘just’ and convincing action, capable of opening all the doors of heaven with full merit. It is like saying that the terrestrial existence can be cancelled completely, in any case, its value is so fleeting. And it is possible that these men lost amidst the smoke of mystic delirium, have no need of God’s pardon: in their minds, it is more than sufficient to believe that they are blessed with unequivocal and absolute approval.

"New" Terrorism

Religious terrorism, Christian, Hebrew, Moslem, fall into a category which the scholars call “new terrorism”, with reference to the last decade of terrorist attacks.
“Christian” terrorist activities are typical of both the groups and the individuals who profess to be Christians.
Among examples of such activities, we can recall the bomb placed in a clinic where abortions were practiced. This happened in 1996 and was the work of Eric Robert Rudolph, who defined himself as a member of the extremist Christian movement, Christian Identity (1) . And again, the murder of Doctor Barnett Slepian, who was shot by James Charles Kopp in 1988, always due to the same cause of abortion practices. In the “Most Wanted” list drawn up by the FBI in 2001, three out of ten were anti-abortion terrorists.

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Other terrorist groups who use the label of “Christian” are the Christian Baptists of Northeast India, the (2) , which uses terrorist tactics to carry out mass conversions to Christianity. This group is also prevalently Baptist and is responsible for the killing of the catholic priest, Victor Crasta in July, 2000; it was on this occasion that the religious dimensions of their activities clearly emerged.
Terrorist groups or individuals in the area of Hebraism also exist. For example, the Kach and Kahane Chai groups (3) are included by the U.S. government in the list of terrorist groups.
However, concerning events which have happened in Israel, the definition of “terrorism”, referring to violent acts perpetrated by individuals acting alone or as members of a group, is a very delicate question and is often influenced by political convictions. As a case in point, the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin in 1995, is considered a terrorist act. Nevertheless, the debate as to how it should be interpreted is still very much alive today; whether it should be seen as the act of a single individual – Ygal Amin, the material executioner – or of a group, considering the fact that Amin was a member of Eyal (4) , a group derived from Kach, the racist group founded by Kahane. There are some who even deny the existence of Eyal, affirming that it was completed invented by a member of Shabak, the Israeli Internal Security Service, a claim supported by videos showing false swearing-in rituals, and stating that it is the result of a “conspiratorial” climate which was created after the assassination of Rabin.
Terrorist activities in the Islamic area are well-known and less well-known. Among these, Abu Sayyaf Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ansar al-Islam, Jemaah Islamiyah (5) and others.
Terrorist groups inspired by other religions also exist, as for example, Babbar Kahlsa (6) , a Sikh organization.
If one attempts to analyze the expression “New Terrorism”, it emerges that the word “terrorism” itself is disputable and gives rise to various definitions. In fact, it has to do with a concept which transcends the juridical sphere, and is influenced by many factors, from political to cultural, historical, and also ideological.
This is one of the definitions of the United States government, which is often referred to (7) : “Terrorism is the threat or the use of violence for political scopes by individuals or groups, whether they act in favour of or against the government authority, when these actions are understood to shock, disorientate or intimidate a reference group larger than the victim itself. Terrorism has involved groups which have sought to overthrow specific regimes, to alleviate what they conceive to be the sufferings of a nation or a group, or to undermine political order as an end in itself”. The sum of the most distinctive characteristics of terrorism is that it implies the calculated use of violence against civilians with the scope of intimidation, to induce fear, and often to kill in the name of religion, politics or other causes. Today, the violence-intimidation equation has reached the highest level ever known.
The question then, lies in the definition of religious terrorism as “New”. One could question the “newness” of such terrorism, considering that literature is full of lists of terrorist acts since the famous Zealots (8) . In fact, according to Hoffman (9) , only in the past centuries has religious terrorism been almost eclipsed by terrorist movements of an ethnic- nationalist/separatist or ideological nature. Categories which included: anti-colonial and nationalist movements, or Hebrew terrorist organizations during the pre-independent period of Israel; the National Liberation Front in Algeria, prevalently Moslem; the Catholic Irish Republican Army and the Protestant Ulster Freedom Fighters, the Ulster Volunteer Force, and the Red Hand Commandos in Ireland; the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine, Moslem. In these groups the religious component is very much in the shadow of political, ethnic-nationalist and irredentist movements.
Religious terrorism could, therefore, be defined as “new” because domestic and international terrorism decreased in the 1990’s with the end of the Cold War and so religious terrorism has acquired a newly animated dimension.
A purely quantitative evaluation to which the analysts often refer is exemplified in the following graph, which although finishing in the year 1996, analyzes a particularly interesting period.
As one can see, in 1968, out of the eleven active terrorist groups, there is not one which is identifiable as religious. Hoffman (10) sustains that this is explained by the political climate of those years, in the middle of the Cold War, when the major part of the terrorist groups was Right wing, revolutionary organizations permeated with the Marxist-Leninist ideology, or else ethnic-nationalist separatist groups typical of the post-colonial liberation movements of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. A significant amplification of the phenomenon is constituted by the Iran revolution in 1979, the effect of which includes the creation of the first “modern” (11) religious terrorist groups.

Yet, according to the graph, in the 1980’s, when the number of organizations rises to 64, only two out of the terrorist groups are motivated prevalently by religion (12) . One decade later, in 1992, the number increases from 2 to 11.
The religious terrorist groups are not only increased in number, but have also consolidated their structure, recruiting followers from all the principle world religions – not only Islam – and also from many minor religious groups. The period between 1992 and 1995 shows an increase in the number of the religious terrorist groups to 26, on a total of 56 identified active terrorist groups (46.4%). A decrease is visible in 1996, when only 13 of the 46 identifiable groups show a predominant religious component (28.2%). However, in that same year, groups which were partially or totally influenced by religious or teleological motivations committed 10 out of the 13 most deadly terrorist attacks (13) . This shows a tendency which is difficult to explain with only the quantitative analysis because even if the number decreases, the lethality increases, as we well know after the 11th of September, 2002.

Characteristics and objectives
of religious terrorism

If different religious terrorist groups are examined, it is clear that they present characteristics which could be classified in more than one way (14) . In fact, very often, religious terrorism is presented as:
a) mixed with the ethnic conflict (Indian sub-continent and a good part of Southern Asia);
b) the result of a mixture of nationalism and religion;
c) the result of a mixture of ideology and religion.
The mixture of political and religious elements, characteristic of religious terrorism, expresses itself in different forms. In some cases, one observes the application of “political” theories and methods to religious problems (in the form of terrorism). In other cases, the opposite happens: religious theories and methods – together with religious rhetoric - is applied to problems of a political nature (also here, in the form of terrorism). In both cases, politics or religion are used to justify the violence.
What is more, in both cases the groups can undergo transformations: the religious character can increase, with a consequent decrease of political character, and vice versa. This can lead the group to change their final objective. A group can increase or diminish the level of religiosity of its scope or the level of violence of its means. For example, according to some, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (or Islamic Party of Turkestan) (15) changed their mission from combating injustice at a national level – attempting to overthrow the government of the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov to replace it with an Islamic State – to the incitement of Islamic extremism on a global level, and with the invocation of a global jihad, it would have gained financial support from Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey (16) .
These changes are not always welcome among the supporters. To cite an example: it seems that strong disappointment spread among the militants of Kashmir due to what was seen as a transformation of a religious struggle into a fight undertaken in the interests of the State of Pakistan (17) .

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The ‘transformation’, therefore, is a characteristic of religious terrorist groups; a difficult characteristic to keep under control. The process for which groups cross secularity-religiosity borders, which many analysts consider a crucial step also in the definition of the objectives of the group and the dimensions these objectives acquire, is an enigmatic question. Close observation can lead to the identification of change tendencies in certain groups, which determine the tendency of these to become dangerous and violent. Close observation can also contribute to identify re-alignment of objectives and/or means, which, at times, can be almost imperceptible. For example, Al Qa'eda offer of truce to the European nations, following Spain’s announcement of withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, although being a long way from constituting a real and proper political dialogue, indicates, however, that the organization of Osama bin Laden is not opposed to negotiations or discussion as has been thought up to now (18) .
Religious terrorism also presents differences in its nature, according to the area in which it operates. In fact, some analysts tend to study the phenomenon applying variables which derive from the geopolitical area in which the group is active, (the Balkans, North Africa, Southern Asia etc.,).
One can also make a distinction by separating the “religious” characteristics from the “secular” ones of the religious terrorist groups. Religious terrorism and secular terrorism have different systems of values, different mechanisms for justifying their acts, different ways of conceiving morality. For the religious terrorist, violence is a divine duty. Such violence is at the same time morally justified and necessary. This point gives the go-ahead for a discussion concerning the opportuneness of describing certain groups as terrorists. Esposito (19) , for instance, suggests that a distinction can be made between Islamic terrorism and Islamic activism, when we are speaking about Hamas or Hezbollah.
We do not wish to indulge in the discussion at this particular time, but simply present different analytical approaches. What is important to underline is that for a religious terrorist, his actions are eminently rational, based as they are on the will of God (20) .
This is the reason why certain analysts affirm that to sustain that religious terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda are fighting the United States because they hate the liberty or the American way of life constitutes an extremely simplistic interpretation of the facts and that, besides, the fight against them has no sense, and indeed could be counter-productive (21) .
The characteristics of religious terrorism can be summarized as follows:
a) strong motivation: increase of religious motivation:
b) devotion: the adherents sincerely believe in their religion (not like a sect);
c) self-perception: there is an erroneous way of the adherents to perceive their role and identity: they do not consider themselves terrorists because they resort to violence to carry out a mandate which, according to them, has been neglected;
d) election: the individuals tend to think that they have been selected, the chosen, and this is emphasized through the promise of immediate and tangible celestial rewards, granted directly from God;
e) definition of the enemy: the enemy is well identified;
f) language: the use of a simple, metaphorical language which derives from a type off biblical imagery, particularly in the case of Ireland and the Hebraic organizations before the foundation of the State of Israel, and of Moslem organizations under OLP;
g) continuity: the motivation of these groups is found in history, a diachronic extension which guarantees strong roots and connections with the ancestors, the tradition.

To become a religious terrorist

Why do certain young people become terrorists, simply believing in their religion? Why and how do they pass the boundary?
Fukuyama affirmed that the return to religion is due to the impersonal and spiritual emptiness of the consumer society (22) . Is this one of the reasons? Is terrorism an answer to a greedy and superficial society?
If one analyzes the characteristics of religious terrorism stated above, we can certainly recognize how they can constitute factors of attraction and how they can transform terrorism into a seductive option for some individuals.
For instance, the fact that the language is simple and dense with metaphors take the individual back to archetypal myths and, furthermore, satisfies the need of the individual to be reassured through crystal clear images of the society, of destiny, of himself and the world, of friends and enemies, be they black, white, Manichaean, dichotomy. Remember the way in which Osama bin Laden described his dream which had inspired the plan to destroy the Twin Towers. He used a narrative scheme which can be found in all the fundamental religious sacred texts, especially in the myths of foundation.
Once more, the terrorist language is full of repetitive formulas and self-hypnotic meditations, which have the scope of reducing the critical capacity of the individual. It is interesting to quote part of a document which was found in the handcase of one of the protagonist terrorists of the 11th September attack, Muhammed Atta: “Read verses from the Koran held in your hands and then rub them on your luggage, on the knife and on all of your documents (….) check your weapons and keep God constantly in your mind while you travel to the airport. Have courage and remember the rewards that God has promised to the martyrs….” (23) .
Other characteristics mentioned above, such as devotion and being of the ‘chosen’ lead to fanaticism, exaltation, aspiration of being at the centre of attention (diffused messages after the attacks, the use of videos of executions and terrorist attacks), increased by the sense of secrecy and conspiracy, which emphasize the esoteric dimension.
Terrorism helps the terrorist to find his place in the world, to become conscious of what is expected of them, and to know that if they bring their task to a successful conclusion, they will be rewarded by God himself.
However, it is difficult to clearly define a terrorist. Nevertheless, two distinctive traits can be attributed to them with certainty:
a) lack of self-esteem;
b) inclination to risk.
The terrorists are recruited from among those who feel culturally, socially and politically alienated. They especially feel that they have no power to influence aspects of their society with negotiations or speeches (24) .
What is important to understand is the fact that through their ideas – political and moral – the terrorists are able to re-echo a message of fear to their victims, which derives from the fact that they themselves are frightened. This is why some analysts affirm that there is no rationality in the choice to become a terrorist. On the contrary, others feel that it is an absolutely rational choice because it gives the illusion of resolving all the existential problems of the individual: so rational that it can lead to fatalistic suicide; particularly dangerous because, in fact, it implies a concept of victory based on a defeat.
As we have said before, the religious terrorists do not consider themselves terrorists: they use violence to perform what they see as a “neglected duty” within the principal religion, and which is included, directly or indirectly, in the sacred texts.

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Strategies of religious terrorism

Rationality is, however, at the base of the strategy of religious terrorism, which is quantitatively and qualitatively implied by the aim of demonstrating the vulnerability of the enemy:
- qualitative connotation: to attack the cultural symbols of the enemy (those which represent values) like the capitalist system, in order to create crises with respect to the system of values;
- quantitative connotation: to cause many victims (in the past, the demonstrative effect was more important than the quantitative result) because the enemy got the message not only on a rational level, but on an emotional one, with the object of creating havoc at all levels; religious terrorists are less limited than all their predecessors in their methods of causing victims.
The inclination towards increasing the intensity of violence and the accurate choice of a target with the greatest impact on the population at all levels, are the reasons for which some people sustain that the phenomenon of religious terrorism can only grow.
The idea is sustained by the ever-increasing refinement in the technology of communication and access to weapons. Nevertheless, it is necessary to underline that there is not a real risk of apocalyptic destruction by Moslem religious terrorism, those thought to be the most dangerous, because it is still very difficult to acquire arms of mass destruction. In addition, the internal balance of the Moslem world, from a social and political viewpoint, seems to demonstrate that it is highly unlikely that total support of terrorism by Moslem countries and populations in general, could be verified.
A holy war, or Jihad, has no end, because it has a spiritual objective. No-one knows when God will be entirely satisfied and when the situation in Heaven will be in harmony with that on Earth. It is for this reason that some experts say that religious terrorism is not the most dangerous type in the world, but it is certainly the most unpredictable and that which has the highest level of individual devotion.
Certain experts sustain that the religious terrorists “want” to fail because if the enemy is destroyed, the aim of their mission would lose its foundation. They “want” to fail also because they adhere to a notion of martyrdom based on the image of themselves as “losers” in the world. This “ideology of the loser” manifests itself in the fatalistic suicide. This is why the religious terrorist does not fear to destroy himself or anyone else, in the process of using weapons (25) .
Besides, religious terrorism shows a strong inclination to rapid innovation, as well as the ability of adapting itself to new scenarios, which guarantees a flexible advantage.
Today, religious terrorism is, in fact, characterized by a larger global activity which:
- can rely on organizations arranged in networks: inter and intra-connected, not necessarily a hierarchical structure or, however, more structured, but they can better communicate and better diffuse their messages;
- has access to major resources, especially at a technological level, from communication to finance etc., which can also favour access to weapons, from the chemical ones to those of mass destruction.
According to Burgess, the idea that terrorism can be completely defeated is an illusion: it can only be monitored (26) . How can terrorists be identified? This can be done through studying their profiles and with the analysis of the propaganda, especially observing with attention if and how the groups are beginning to pass the secularity-religiosity border-line.
According to Burton (27) there are four warning signals which can lead a religious group to become dangerous:
a) the apocalyptic or eschatological thought, which speaks of the fact that the end of the world is imminent and that the true believers can enjoy unique rewards at the time ordained by God;
b) charismatic leadership where the leader dominates his followers spiritually, emotionally and/or sexually;
c) the paranoia and demonizing of the outsiders of a group, accompanied by an intentional isolation within a closed community;
d) preparation of a defensive nature, generally indicated by the construction of arms, poisons and/or weapons of mass destruction.
Many experts (28) consider the apocalyptic thought the most important sign of danger. The problem lies in what can be done of a concrete nature.

Strategies of opposition

Hoffman (29) sustains that religious terrorism cannot be opposed using the same criteria which fights other forms of terrorism. Neither military solutions nor diplomatic intervention works.
The United States’ strategies are based upon deterrence and weakening. The problem is that such strategy is based on the idea that to successfully fight religious terrorism, it is necessary to adopt the same language as terrorism. George W. Bush has held talks everywhere, in which the typical elements of religious discussion clearly emerge (30) .
The continual references made to moral concepts like justice and liberty – fundamental values – going as far as to define the fight against terrorism as a “crusade”, explicitly naming God himself, are a clear demonstration of this strategy.
The approach of the European Union to the fight against terrorism is different from that of the United States and, up to now, it has been based, principally, on:
- negotiation: in some cases of political terrorism, the States have negotiated with the terrorists themselves (31) ;
- financial disposition: tracing the funds destined to terrorism and taking;
- the necessary provisions;
- juridical instruments.
However, these provisions are insufficient because, up to the present time, they have not taken into account the moral component of the New Terrorism, as explained previously.
The European Union can and must propose alternative models to fight religious terrorism. The défaillance of the past has led the EU to recently review, in December, 2005, their anti-terrorism strategy, elaborating a plan of action centred on four fundamental points (32) .
1. forestall new recruitment for terrorism;
2. protect more efficiently the potential targets;
3. pursue and investigate terrorists beyond borders and on a world-wide scale;
4. respond to terrorist attacks in a well-organized and co-ordinated way, transforming police intervention from ad hoc to systematic.
Point number one, referring to the recruitment of terrorist groups, appears to the writer particularly important from the programmatic point of view because recruitment constitutes the most critical aspect and at the same time the most winning part of the process which leads to the realization of terrorist acts, a process where extremely refined techniques of persuasion are employed, especially within the area of religious terrorism where the aim is, precisely, the penetration and consequent destruction of the protective layers of the individual’s personality, the potential recruit.

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However, in this sense, the question is extremely delicate because it implies the eventual actuation of strategies of control which must not enter into contrast with the respect for individual liberty. In fact, in some cases, the anti-terrorism provisions which involved controls which were not relative to concrete facts, were accused of being more like political or ideological intrusions. An emblematic case was that of the task force VAAPCON (Violence Anti-Abortion Providers Conspiracy) in the USA, an initiative instituted in 1994, during the Clinton Administration, by the Minister of Justice, Janet Reno, to monitor the extremist Christian groups on the basis of the concept of “conspiracy” (33) . Part of the civilian society denounced the initiative as an intrusion on privacy, a way of spying on the citizens (34) . In fact, such instruments are dangerous and are revealed as arms with a double cutting edge. In the Italian legislation, clearly legally bound to the constitutional principle of liberty of thought and religion, propaganda, in order to assume the character of a crime, must assume the character of instigation (Art. 302 Criminal Code) or of an apologia of crimes against the personality of the State, among which is terrorism. Moreover, Articles 414 and 415 more generally, foresee as crimes the instigation to commit a crime and the instigation to disobey the law.
In some cases one could verify the hypothesis of aiding and abetting from the outside of the terrorist association by those subjects who, while still remaining on the outside, derive certain advantages. However, it is a concept with rather vague outlines and subject to various interpretations. It is a very delicate question, for example, in a democratic society, it is not admissible to arrest an Imam for his teachings, unless it can be demonstrated with unquestionable evidence that what the Imam had taught had contained an intentional subversive message.
Again, according to legislation, the criminal repressive intervention can also be actuated under Art. 305, which foresees ‘political conspiracy through association’, or even with Art. 306 ‘armed gangs’ and Art. 307 ‘assistance to the participants of conspiracies or armed gangs’. The rules relative to terrorism foresee as a crime, association with an end to terrorism (Art. 270 bis. Criminal Code), and the attack with and end to terrorism (Art. 280 Criminal Code). In this last case, since it deals with attacks, as we can see, it is not necessary to attain the prefixed event, the attempt is sufficient; that is, one commits and act which is unequivocally directed to damage the life or personal integrity of even one individual for terrorist ends. Actions with terrorist ends become a differential element when dealing with kidnapping (Art. 289 bis. Criminal Code) which, in addition, foresees a substantial decrease in punishment for disassociation, also when the criminal is not ‘reformed’.
A recent new law, definitively approved on 25th January, 2006 (Ddl S3538) re-formulates several articles of the Criminal Code in the spirit of a notion of terrorism which is tied to the objective of diminishing the independence or unity of the State (Art. 241 Criminal Code), the subversion with violence of the economic-social order and the violent suppression of the political and juridical order of the State (Art. 270 Criminal Code), the violent aggression against the free exercise of the attributions or prerogatives of the supreme bodies of the State (Art. 289 Criminal Code). Some rules modulate criminal conduct by providing for, to cite just one example, the increased punishment for whomsoever (“reconstitutes, also under a false name or simulated form, the subversive association for which the dissolution has been ordered” (Art. 270 Criminal Code).
The new laws pay particular attention to avoid religious pretexts or motives for terrorism and to this end modifies the title (IV°, Part II°) “Crimes against the religion of the State and admitted faiths” to read “Crimes against religious denominations”, correspondingly modifying Articles 402 and the following with reference to the religious denominations in general, and not only the Catholic faith or admitted faiths.
Half the fight against religious terrorism is the rule which constitutes, as a way of saying, a second barrier of criminal protection, which permits intervention in a warning signal phase. It is Article 3 (L. 654/1975 Mod. 25/1/2006), which punishes with prison or a fine, not only the propaganda of ideas on superiority or racial and ethnic hatred, but also “who instigates the committing or commits discriminatory acts for racial, ethnic, nationalistic or religious reasons”. Its very capacity of intervention in a warning phase makes this rule extremely complex and delicate, which brings us to the question of the definition of concepts such as instigation, conspiracy, outside concourse, especially, if it is tied to religious terrorism, and on these definitions we must be very certain, in order to react correctly and according to democratic and constitutional principles.
The problem remains: Can the terrorists win?
It is necessary to convince ourselves that there are new types of adversaries - “new” terrorists - and that the old strategies alone cannot work. The government, the military, the police and the security services must continue to concentrate on the search for appropriate instruments to identify terrorists, considering that the religious terrorist groups are often not structured and constitute a “shade” or a minimal part of other bigger and harmless groups.
The things which religious terrorists most oppose are, naturally, the things which can defeat them: for example, the positive aspects of secularism and capitalism. Here we refer to aspects of secularism such as the rights connected to the equality between men and women at all levels, which had led to the re-organization of some aspects of the historical religion, as it came about with Christianity. In addition, the social movements and the social mobility must be promoted; favouring discussion and the exchange of ideas; permitting the young to express their doubts and admitting a certain level of “personalization” of the religious belief. This would be in line with another strategy, which appears to the writer, important and efficacious (35) : oppose the granite-like certainties, break-down and reconstruct convictions, give space to interpretation, permit the existence of other viewpoints, flood the world with information: to potential terrorists, give access to all spaces in the society, in a figurative and geographical sense, access to information – also to the remote or peripheral areas – to allow them to know the alternatives. Not to limit the spaces, but render them infinite.
An accurate study must be conducted in order to understand the cause of the affiliation to terrorism by certain individuals. Such a study must be approached from the psychological, economic, social, nationality aspects, the social groups and age groups etc., bearing in mind that the affiliation is a consequence of alienation, social exclusion and ignorance. It is necessary to fight these negative conditions of individuals or groups in the society, creating new opportunities for social inclusion, to combat the alienation by adapting the proposals to the current expectations. This would allow the adoption of the most efficacious strategy, that of the interruption of the process of affirmation of religious terrorist groups at the recruitment stage.
Potential terrorists are often young people in crisis, crises of various types and levels (sometimes, just a change of residence to another city is sufficient to make them feel lost and, therefore, vulnerable to the enticement of aggregation).
They should be supported in order that they do not abandon themselves to the seduction offered by religious terrorism.
Efforts must be concentrated on knowing and understanding these people and by knowing how to make oneself known and understood.

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(1) Christian Identity is a movement which gathers together other ultra-conservative Christian movements, in which many analysts include also the Ku Klux Klan, as first historical example. The belief, characterized by a radical interpretation of the Bible, is based on the Anglo-Israelism, which sustains that Anglo-Saxons, Celts, Scandinavians, Germans and others associated to them are the direct descendents of the Tribe of Israel. Today, Christian Identity includes groups such as: American Nazi Party, Aryan Nation, The Order, White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and others. Such groups are suspected of being responsible for numerous terrorist acts. It is interesting to note that ramifications of this doctrine have reached as far as South Africa, where, since the fall of Apartheid 10 years ago, Christian groups have been founded for the supremacy of the Whites, as for example, Lewende Hoop ( hope is always alive), founded at the end of the 1990’s by Reverend Willie Smith, who interprets the passage of power into the hands of the Blacks as a divine punishment towards the Afrikaner
(2) National Liberation Front of Tripura National Liberation Front of Tripura: the NFLT, founded in 1989 in Tripura, has the creation of an independent Tripura as its objective, through an armed fight of liberation against the Indian imperialism and neo-colonialism. It has contacts with groups in Buthan and at Myanman , but also with the Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence Agency (ISI). The NFLT has been outlawed since 1997, according to the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
(3) Kach and Kahane Chai: Kach (acronym of Kahane alla Knesset) was a political party of the extreme Right founded in Israel by Rabbi Meir Kahane. After the assassination of the founder, the party split up, giving rise to the two movements Kach and Kahane Chai. The leadership of Kach was first assumed by Rabbi Avraham Toledano and then by Baruch Marzel. Kahanse Chai then passed into the hands of the son of Kahane who, however, died in one of the numerous Palestinian terrorist attacks in 2000. The two groups have been outlawed by Israel since 1994, according to the anti-terrorism laws. Many terrorist attacks are attributed to these groups, among which stands out that of the Israeli extremist, Baruch Goldstein, who machine-gunned Moslem worshippers as they were praying in the mosque of Ibrahimi of Hebron in 1994, killing 29 people.
(4) For example, cfr. Loflin, L., The Truth about “Jewish Terrorism”, on the site (consulted in March 2006).
(5) Abu Sayyaf (Islamic separatist group active in the Southern Islands of the Philippines); Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Egyptian Moslem militant group, considered terrorists by Egypt and the U.S.A, which has as its objective to overthrow the Egyptian government and replace it with an Islamic government): Egyptian Islamic Jihad (it originated in the 1970’s by the Moslem Brothers, also this last wants to overthrow the Egyptian State and replace it with an Islamic one. It has recently been decimated by numerous arrests in Yemen and Lebanon); Ansar al-Islam (a Sunnite Kurd organization, promotes a radical interpretation of Islam and the jihad. At the beginning of 2003, it controlled several villages on the border with Iraq; it is in conflict with other groups like the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan); Jemaah Islamiyah (Islamic militant terrorist organization which is fighting to install an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy in Southern Asia, in particular, in Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines).
(6) Babbar Khalsa: one of the most important and ancient of the Sikh organizations which aspire to form an independent Sikh State; particularly active in the 1980’s and 90’s. Sponsored, so it is said, by the British and Canadian Sikh diaspora, and is on the list of terrorist groups in the UK, Canada and the UE. According to the United States, it is responsible for the bombing of the Indian Airline flight l82.
(7) Long, D.E., The Anatomy of Terrorism, N.Y, Maxwell Macmillan International, 1990.
(8) The Zealots were a Hebrew millenaristic sect, which fought against the Roman occupation of what is now known as Israel, between 66 and 73 BC- The Zealots undertook a ruthless campaign of massacres and individual murders.
(9) See Hoffman, B. N.Y. Columbia Univ. Press, 1999; Hoffman, B, “Old Madness, New Methods: Revival of Religious Terrorism Begs for Broader U.S. Policy,” Rand Review, Winter, 1998-99; Hoffman, B., ”The Contrasting Ethical Foundations of Terrorism in the 1980’s”, Terrorism & Political Violence 1, no. 3 (1989) page 361, n.1.
(10) Hoffman, B., Inside Terrorism, N.Y. Columbia Univ. Press, 1999, page 90.
(11) Hoffman, B., work already cited, pg. 101.
(12) Hoffman, B., work already cited, pg. 95
(13) Burgess, M., Explaining Religious Terrorism. Part 1. The axis of Good and Evil, in: Centre for Defence Information, May 2004, (consulted in March, 2006); Burgess, M., Explaining Religious Terrorism .Part 1. Politics, Religion and the Suspension of the ethical., in: Centre for Defence In-formation, August 2004, (consulted in March, 2006)
(14) Here, we refer to cases such as the network of Al Qaeda, the Palestinian Sunnite organization, Hamas, the Lebanese Shiite group, Hezbollah, the radical Hebrew groups affiliated to the deceased Rabbi Meir Kahane, the Israeli extremist, Baruch Goldstein, (author of the massacre of Hebron in 1994) and Yigal Amir (who assassinated the then Prime-Minister, Yitzhak Rabin in 1995), some American militias for white supremacy, the Japanese apocalyptic cult, Aum Shinrikyo, and others.
(15) The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a pan-Islamic militant movement founded in 1999 in Uzbekistan, active in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, with military bases in Afghanistan: in 2001, it changed its name to the Islamic Party of Turkestan and has widened its objective to create an Islamic State in the whole of Central Asia. It is responsible for armed aggression, including car bombing and hostage taking.
(16) Stern, J., Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill, New York, Ecco, 2003, pg. 267.
(17) Stern, J., in the work cited, pgs. 134-137
(18) Stern, J., in the work cited. Pg. 106.
(19) Esposito, J., The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality? N.Y: Oxford Univ. Press, 1999
(20) Burgess, in the work cited.
(21) Burgess, in the work cited.
(22) Fukuyama, F., “The End of History?” The National Interest, Estate (1989), pg. 14.
(23) Roseln, P., Indoctrination and Self-deception or Free and Critical Thought?, Lewiston,Mellen Press, 2001.
(24) Rapoport, D. C., “Fear and Trembling: Terrorism in Three Religious Traditions, “American Political Science Review, 78, n.3, 1984.
(25) Juergensmeyer, M., Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 2001.
(26) Burgess, M., Explaining Religious Terrorism , Part 1. Politics, Religion and the Suspension of the ethical., in Centre for Defence Information, August, 2004, (Consulted in March, 2006).
(27) Burton, R., Religious Terrorism, on the web: (Consulted in March, 2006).
(28) Lewy, G., Religion and Revolution, NY, Oxford Univ. Press, 1974: White, J. Terrorism: An introduction, Belmont, CA,
(29) Hoffmann, B., Inside Terrorism, NY, Columbia Press, 1999.
(30) Inaugural Speech of the second term of G.W. Bush, held 20th January, 2005.
Zartman I. W. Negotiating with Terrorists, in: International Negotiations. A Journal of Theory and Practice, vol. 8, no.3, 2003.
(31) Zartman I. W. Negotiating with Terrorists, in: International Negotiations. A Journal of Theory and Practice, vol. 8, no.3, 2003.
(32) EU Anti-terrorism strategy, in:
(Consulted in March, 2006).
(33) According to the Department of Justice, the VAAPCON was given the task of “determining whether or not, there was a conspiracy in act, at a national level, to commit acts of violence against those people who furnished medical services connected to reproduction”.
(34) Ponte, L., “Is he a Christian Terrorist?”,, June 4th, 2003.
(35) See also: Stern, J., work already cited.