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Terrorists’ Justifications for Their Actions Essay


Terrorists commit horrible acts of violence. They justify their actions with a wide range of reasons why the actions they carry out are “right.” Most terrorist organizations must convince themselves that the opponent is “evil.” Some commit terrorist acts against others in the name of their religion. An outcast believes that being an outcast in itself is his justification for joining a terrorist organization. There are many justifications for the actions and behavior of terrorists in their minds, but that is only in their minds; one person’s justification is called a “bad excuse” from someone else’s point of view.

Terrorists’ Justifications for Their Actions

Terrorists are human beings that commit terrible acts that in their own minds are justified. Their justifications vary from religion to their economical status to simply finding, “where they belong” within a terrorist organization. These justifications may not be accepted by the public eye; however, to a terrorist, the most important thing is to be able to justify his/her actions whether or not the reason for why they do what they do is accepted by others.

In the Name of Religion

Globalization is the world getting smaller. One of the things that make people and countries smaller, for example, is the internet. The internet is accessible to anyone who has a computer, a cell phone, or an internet cafe. Western values, including religious ideas and concepts, are thrust upon people in other cultures who did not know this even existed. The information posted by the internet is the initiation of “social and cultural changes…that constitute a dominant theme throughout human history,” (Alcorta, Phillips, and Sosis, 2012). Religious organizations have taken notice of the rapid cultural change. They grow to be most displeased of the changes and mockery for their religious traditions. In an effort to uphold their traditions, they become violent toward those who have spread the “infection” of values and interests that differ from their own.

For instance, according to the authors of a book, Sacrifice and Sacred Values: Evolutionary Perspectives on Religious Terrorism, “Western values, including democracy, are viewed by some as inferior to Muslim values that, it is believed, derive from Allah. Muslim law, sharia, must be protected and prevented from being subjugated to human law,” (Alcorta, Phillips, and Sosis, 2012). In other words, sharia, which is pure, must be protected from the “infection” of conversion from its values. Religion, in some cases, is a cover for political struggles. By casing disputes in religious instead of political expressions, they can inspire others to surrender themselves for the cause. They convince themselves and others that they are partaking in events “of divine significance that transcends individual self-interest,” (Alcorta, Phillips, and Sosis, 2012).

Socio – Economic Status

In CJ 101, Introduction to Criminal Justice, we discussed two authors (Sykes and Matza) of the book, Techniques of Neutralization. These authors talked about those who neutralize their involvement in crime by shedding feelings of guilt and responsibility. At least three of the five ways people do this are common among terrorists (Sykes & Matza, 1957). They are: 1. Denial of victim meaning the enemy deserved to be harmed. 2. Condemnation of condemners meaning the enemy is the “the bad guy”. 3. Appeal to higher authorities meaning God prefers the terrorists’ ideals. Terrorists seek to have the same status quo in the economy and social order as everyone else in the world.

They long to be equals with the highest of norms in the economical and social world. Being as this is denied to most beings who engage in terrorist organizations from the beginning, this is why they seek to find their equals in their current status and then become, as a group, the new high of the socio-eco quo. They must first neutralize the enemy; for example, the United States in the eyes of most Muslim organizations is the enemy. After they neutralize the enemy, they would then seek to be superior to them. In most cases, achieving this is difficult when trying to neutralize an enemy with so many alliances and resources.

This is why terrorists justify their behavior, because in their minds, they try to be equal, and the “enemy” does not allow for this to be possible. Terrorists want not only equality, but power and status. One person enraged about the economy is less dangerous than an entire angry culture; particularly, when that culture believes it is acceptable to use violence to achieve equality. According to our textbook, Terrorism & Homeland Security, there is less opportunity for terrorists to work, live, and function in countries or civilizations that enjoys a high economy and status in the world (White, 2011).


The variation of justifications for terrorist behavior and actions is endless. The most common justification is that they do not have what they want or what they believe is “rightfully theirs.” Many people in this world have endured unsteady lives and have not become terrorists. You do not have to become a terrorist to triumph in this world. Therefore, as many justifications as they may have, invent, or discover, there will never be a reason, explanation, motivation, or whatever they will call it, good enough to justify the violent acts and behavior exemplified by terrorists and their organizations.

Sosis, R., Phillips, E. J., & Alcorta, C. S. (2012). Sacrifice and sacred values: Evolutionary perspectives on religious terrorism. (pp. 233-253).

Sykes, G., & Matza, D. (1957). Techniques of neutralization: A theory of delinquency. (Vol. 22, pp. 664-670). American Sociological Review.

White, J. R. (2011). Terrorism and homeland security. (7th ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Pub Co.

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