Exploring the roots of terrorism
CHERYL E. EASLEY AND CAROL EASLEY ALLEN
Since any discussion of the roots of terrorism runs the significant risk of being misunderstood as a justification for terrorist acts, we feel that we must begin with a disclaimer and a caveat. As a disclaimer, we assert that there is no justification for terrorism in any form or by any person or group—reasons for terrorist acts do not provide moral bases or excuses for them. As a caveat, we assert that the context in which terrorism is conceived and perpetrated cannot be ignored—to do so could lead to an endless cycle of terrorism, which some people and groups view as the only available response to intolerable conditions in the face of overwhelming power.
For us, as U.S. citizens, to understand the roots of terrorism, we must be willing to examine critically our often-idealized perception of our country's policies and actions. The events of September 11 did not occur in a contextual vacuum. In trying to understand these events, we may view them as either the aberrant, random, and unexplainable acts of an extremist minority, or as acts reflecting, to some extent, shared anger and frustration of many other people in their countries or cultures.
People become terrorists for various reasons: many become terrorists because of strongly held philosophical, ideological, or religious beliefs. Some become terrorists because of perceived oppression or economic deprivation. Other terrorists are simply criminals or mercenaries for hire. U.S. foreign pol335