Religious and Theologically Motivated Terrorism
Module 1. Anyone who has traveled, watched TV or listened to the radio in recent years knows that terrorism has radically impacted American society. Religious terrorism in particular has become an important national security issue, as many of the most recognizable terrorist attacks in the past 15 years seem to have been motivated by religion or theology. As members of the counterterrorism community, we must ask ourselves: has religious extremism become a serious, violent threat to the US? Or is the problem of religious terrorism not quite so simple? Many agree that religious terrorism is one of the most significant forms of political violence being practiced today, but few know what it actually is and how it differs from other motivations behind sub-national political violence – for example, the extreme right of left, or single-issue motivations. This module is part one of a 2-part series on the subject of religious terrorism and these modules build on the information presented in the Social Identity Theory lectures. Supplementing your theoretical understanding of terrorism with clarifying the correlation between developing social identities and religious and theologically motivated terrorism and terrorist groups, these modules address the role of religious and theological terrorism in contemporary society and demonstrate how it pertains to the counterterrorism field.
Module 2. This module builds on information presented in module 1 of this series and provides a more in-depth understanding of contemporary religious terrorist groups and their belief systems, including radical Islamic groups (al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and Hizbullah), Christian Identity groups, and Gush Emunim, a Jewish extremist group committed to establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Exploring various religious extremist groups from each of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), this final module in the series on Social Identity and religious terrorism will closely investigate how a social scientific perspective informs contemporary studies of the phenomenon we refer to as religious terrorism.