Sociology Index

Terrorist Group Typologies

A cult leader totally dominates his terrorist group, like Abu Nidal or Shoko Asahara. These terrorist leaders give instructions to their lieutenants to hijack a jetliner while leaving operational details to their lieutenants. In Sociology of Terrorism, terrorist groups are categorised according to a typology like Religious Fundamentalist, New Religious, Right-wing Terrorists and Nationalist-separatist. Terrorist groups can belong to one of the following terrorist group typology: religious or fundamentalist, nationalist or separatist, and social revolutionary. Terrorist group typology can also be based on background and ideology. The general terrorist group typology is also important because terrorist campaigns are different, and the Terrorist Ideology And Religious Perception may be more in common than those in different categories.

Sociologists are interested in the social contexts of terrorist groups. Terrorist groups can be categorized by their background or ideology. People act differently when they are in a group than when they are alone, so the group behavior is unique leading to different terrorist group typologies. The Personal Pathway Model of Psychologist Eric D. Shaw includes early socialization processes, escalatory events, particularly confrontation with police, and narcissistic injuries.

The Process of Joining a Terrorist Group
Socially alienated individuals, often are unemployed, are the ones who become terrorists. Those  Youths in Algerian ghettos or the Gaza Strip, with little education, join a terrorist group out of boredom, a desire for adventure and a cause they regard as just. The educated youths may be motivated more by genuine political or religious convictions. A terrorist in Western countries is generally both an intellectual and idealistic. Violent encounters with security forces motivate an already socially alienated individual. Membership in a terrorist group, however selective. Recruits generally move in a gradual fashion toward full membership.

Terrorists with Suicide Approach
Altruistic suicide bombers like Tamil terrorists in Sri Lanka and southern India popped cyanide capsules when confronted by police investigators.

The Organizational Approach
Crenshaw contends that acts of terrorism are committed by groups through collective decisions based on commonly held beliefs. The organizational approach would seem to be more relevant to guerrilla organizations that are organized along traditional Marxist-Leninist lines. The Intifada radicalized many young Palestinians who joined terrorist organizations.

Introduction to Terrorism Typology, Targets and Organizations
Nadav Morag. According to Dr. Nadav Morag, “as with any other phenomenon, researchers and policy analysts who attempt to study terrorism are faced with the problem of defining the nature and boundaries of the phenomenon in question.” In this introduction to terrorism, Dr. Morag emphasizes the typology, targets, and organizations associated therein. He suggests that there are four basic methods to defining terrorism; based on the act itself, on those who carry it out, on the root cause for the violence perpetrated by the terrorists, or on the nature of the policy response to the terrorism.

Thugs or Terrorists? A Typology of Right-Wing Terrorism and Violence in Western Europe
Jacob Aasland Ravndal.

Abstract: Despite Western Europe’s extensive history of right-wing terrorism, a systematic categorization of key actors and events is lacking. This article aims to narrow this gap by proposing the first empirically derived typology of right-wing terrorism and violence in Western Europe.

The article begins by introducing a method for reviewing and developing typologies, informed by relevant social science literature. This method is first used to review Ehud Sprinzak’s seminal typology of right-wing terrorism. While Sprinzak merits recognition for having developed the only universal typology in the field, the review shows that his typology does not satisfy established criteria for typology building. Combining quantitative and qualitative post-WWII data, a new typology is therefore proposed, based on attack frequencies and differences in perpetrators’ strategy and organization. This new typology facilitates sharper distinctions, both between different types of perpetrators and between different forms of violence.

The Terrorist as Mentally Ill
The psychopathological orientation has dominated the psychological approach to the terrorist's personality. A common stereotype is that someone who commits acts as planting a bomb on an airliner or tossing a grenade into a crowded sidewalk café is abnormal. The terrorist is viewed either as mentally ill or as a fanatic.

According to Walter Laqueur (1977:125), "Terrorists are fanatics and fanaticism frequently makes for cruelty and sadism." Political terrorists have exhibited psychopathy. In April 1986 Nezar Hindawi sent his pregnant Irish girlfriend on a flight to Israel, promising to meet her and marry her. He however had hidden a bomb provided by the Abu Nidal Organization in a false bottom to her hand luggage. The bomb was discovered by Heathrow security personnel. Taylor regards Hindawi's behavior as that of a psychopath because of his willingness to sacrifice his fiancé and unborn child.