Defining and Distinguishing Secular and Religious Terrorism

Heather S. Gregg

Abstract


Religious terrorism is typically characterised as acts of unrestrained, irrational and indiscriminant violence, thus offering few if any policy options for counterterrorism measures. This assumption about religious terrorism stems from two challenges in the literature: disproportionate attention to apocalyptic terrorism, and a lack of distinction between religious terrorism and its secular counterpart. This article, therefore, aims to do four things: define and differentiate religiously motivated terrorism from traditional terrorism; investigate three goals of religious terrorism (fomenting the apocalypse, creating a religious government, and establishing a religiously pure state); consider the role of leadership and target selection of religious terrorists; and, finally, suggest a range of counterterrorism strategies based on these observations.



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ENHANCING SECURITY THROUGH COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH

Perspectives on Terrorism is  a journal of the Terrorism Research Initiative and the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies

ISSN  2334-3745 (Online)

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