Ever of national liberation, and the concepts of

Ever since the rise of terrorism, people around the world who have been affected by the terrible acts that are carried out by these groups have begun to ask why people join such horrific groups? This question is hard for psychologists to answer because there are many different forms of terrorism, making it hard to accurately define terrorism, to begin with; many terrorists believe they are doing the right thing to better their country. According to Ganor (2010), “A terrorist organization can also be a movement of national liberation, and the concepts of “terrorist” and “freedom fighter” are not mutually contradictory” (p.2). However, psychological studies have shown that many factors- extreme religion, mocking and alienation, and poverty- can lead to individuals joining terrorist groups, specifically Boko Haram. Boko Haram is the group known for kidnapping 276 teenage girls from a boarding school in 2014, bringing about the term “Bring Back Our Girls” and sparking global outrage. Since then, the Jihadist militant organization has not ceased their attacks in multiple cities in Nigeria, causing nothing but chaos and death. According to Alfred (2015), “Boko Haram killed more people — 6,644 — in terror attacks during 2014 than any other group” (p. 1). The terrorist group seems to target frustrated youths, high school and graduates students who are without a job, and children who live in poverty. Boko Haram obtains members through emphasizing the major economic differences and the weak government that attempts to control Nigeria (Asfura-Heim & McQuaid, 2015, p. 34). The group also receives income from other terrorist groups, robbing banks, having members pay a small fee, and residents who they have terrorized (Onuoha, 2014, p. 3). Researchers have set out to Northern Nigeria- this is where Boko Haram is strongest- to answer this question. These researchers found that one of the main reasons for youth to join Boko Haram was “initial ignorance of religious teaching is the leading factor influencing the adoption of extreme religious views, especially among youth” (Onuoha, 2014, p. 5). This shows that the more extreme people are when it comes to religion, the more likely the people are to take up arms to defend the beliefs that are taught. This explains why it is so hard to diminish the numbers that seem to follow terroristic values.Another reason a young person might join Boko Haram lies deeper in the environment around terrorism rather than in the individual. Cottee, a criminology professor at the University of Kent, said, “the roots of terrorism lie not in the individual, but in the wider circumstances in which terrorists live and act” (2015). What this means is that the reason for an individual to join terrorism is not because of the enjoyment of death and destruction, it is because of other individuals who pushed these people to do so: racists. Cottee later goes on to say that a good explanation for terrorism could be that the people who are involved feel “alienated” and, “that they do not belong in a secular world that often mocks and challenges their religion and identity” (Cottee, 2014) and several other psychologists back this statement up. However, Cottee later says that there is no real reason, there is no real answer, it just makes no sense. This year, two people held a survey in different parts of Nigeria, questioning each person on what was perceived by those individuals the most likely reason for youth to join Boko Haram. The results showed that “1,059 (65.90%) of the 1 607 respondents said that financial reasons were associated with the decision to join Boko Haram.” (Ewi & Salifu, 2017, p. 4). Later, it is stated that “(t)his seems to challenge a commonly held view that poverty has no direct causal effect on terrorism” (Ewi & Salifu, p.4). This shows that nobody really knows why people join terrorist groups and have begun to make assumptions when those assumptions are actually false. However, it is also stated that with other groups, such as Al Qaeda, there did not seem to be much of a correlation between poverty and terrorism. With this information, one will know that each terrorist group has a different reason for people wanting to join. With all of these factors in mind, psychologists are continually searching for a way to douse the wildfire of terrorism and hopefully bring peace to all parts of the world; by doing so, one might even find it easier to interact with individuals from around the globe, as the tensions between race and religion will also be diminished. Through further research, governments around the world will be able to recognize terrorist group easier and find quicker ways to remove them.  According to Ewi and Salifu (2017), if the Nigerian government were to take these studies by psychologists and other researchers and use the information to help undermine the need to join Boko Haram “could go a long way to resolving the complex issues surrounding the Boko Haram crisis” (p. 13). As stated by another study done in Nigeria, “Boko Haram has leveraged these vulnerabilities to deepen their process of recruitment and radicalization, especially in northern Nigeria.” (Onuoha, 2014, p. 9). This shows that through the information found and provided by research, the world could become one step closer to eliminating the threats of terrorism. However, the help cannot come from the outside only, instead, the Nigerian government needs to begin to take control and face these conflicts in order to reduce the threat of Boko Haram (Asfura-Heim & McQuaid, 2015, p.59). One can conclude that the only way to eliminate terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram, one must first cut the group off at the source; in this case, by mediating financial troubles, filling the void between races and religious groups, and educating youth more about radical religion and how to avoid it. The cure for terrorism resembles a quote by female activist Malala Yousafzai: “With guns, you can kill terrorists. With education, you can kill terrorism.”

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