Exploring Psychological Processes of Jihadi Radicalization

A holy warrior is an individual who fights for beliefs and convictions about his or her religion. The individuals are willing to fight at whatever cost and ready to accept death in return. So what drives an individual to spread terror in the name of religious beliefs? The article written by Andrew Silke aims to provide the psychology the people who get radicalized and join terrorism and terrorism-based groups. The author attempts to uncover what motivate people to engage in terror activities. The author uses Al-Qaeda terror group and its affiliates as his basis of study and seeks to find what can make an individual participate in the activities that are promoted by the group. Silke review and evaluates the quality of the psychological studies that have been conducted concerning the jihadi radicalization around the world. He depicts jihad as a complex term that is often misunderstood as holy war.

The author argues that there is a lack of primary research on the jihadi radicalization. Instead, people and institutions are relying on newspaper reports and information about radicalization.

Silke has adopted the perception that radicalization process occurs gradually over a period. He argues that a person does not become an Islamist insurgent overnight, instead an interaction with the extremists who initiate them into terror groups while instilling into their minds the ideologies and perceived values to for which they should fight at whatever costs. The terrorists thus in groups in which they are provided with support. The groups are organized to engage in violent campaigns of mass killing and spreading of terror in the society in the name of spreading their ideologies or protecting their interests. The author argues that the terrorists often lead stressful and isolated lives.

ome of the intermeshing factors that the author identified as present in the backgrounds of the terrorists include career and marriage, age and gender, education, identity, discrimination and marginalization, perceived injustices, opportunity and recruitment as well as rewards and status. The above factors are seen to contribute to an individual deciding to join a terror group. It is expected that a person will join a terror group after being influenced by a set of other factors that may include psychological issues.

A struggle for identity and recognition may make individual to participate in a group that makes them feel wanted as well as giving them a perceived social status. Silke concludes that the above factors go against a common belief that terrorists are mentally ill. He argues that radicalization can occur within a small group of like-minded people who may choose to fight for or against a common radical cause. As such, Silke asserts that psychologists who are attempting to understand the psychological motive should focus on small group dynamics and other mental processes.

The article presents a logical perception on the terrorist psychology. It provides an assessment of the quality of the research evidence about terror-related and what motivates individuals to be radicalized. I believe that Silke presents a brilliant take on terrorism psychology and the reason why terrorists act in the manner they do. Understanding the psychology can help stem out radicalization of individuals. The article, however, fails to propose ways through which the individuals that have been radicalized can be made to stop pursuing radical ideologies.