The future of terrorist violence

One final bleak thought from the religion and violence seminars – also something of a grim prediction.

James W Jones argued that it is wrong to think of suicide bombers as brainwashed. Neither has psychopathology been a good indicator of who is a risk, to date: psychopaths aren’t good with groups and so will not join terrorist organisations. Those who deploy lethal violence have justified their actions with all manner of reasons and to understand their actions requires multiple causes.

However, there is an unhappy synchronicity that the spectacular events of 9/11 coincided, more or less, with the globalisation of the internet. The security response has been pretty successful at homing in on groups. But the internet means that disparate networks and individuals barely linked to organisations like al-Qaeda, though inspired by them, have thrived.

In other words, the future of terrorism is with individuals. Recent events in Norway may be a case in point. Moreover, and although the mental state of Anders Behring Breivik is moot, individual actors are more likely to show psychopathology as they perform such actions in an imitative way.