Comparing Role-Specific Terrorist Profiles
36 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2011
Date Written: March 16, 2011
While research on who and why individuals engage in terrorism has moved a long way since psychopathological and psychoanalytical approaches dominated, there remain gaps and shortcomings in our knowledge and approaches to understanding who is likely to engage in this form of political violence. Conventional wisdom posits that terrorists are typically male, uneducated, impoverished and between the ages of 18 and 23. Studies and emerging patterns over the past decade have refuted many of these stereotypes. Of the existing empirical research in the literature, single-case studies dominate. Although highly informative, they are also context-specific and thus their findings may not easily translate to other conflict areas. To address these shortcomings, the socio-demographic and role profiles of 219 Palestinian suicide bombers are compared with 510 terrorists indicted within the United States. These cases allow us to simultaneously compare the profiles of two very different contexts. More importantly, we are able to evaluate and compare the profiles of suicide bombers with more conventional terrorists.
Keywords: Terrorists, Suicide Bombers, Roles in Terrorist Organizations, Terrorist Profiles
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation