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SUNY ONEONTA “ANALYSIS OF TERROR”. Wednesday - October 3, 7:30 PM Moderator Dr. Alexander Thomas: Sociology PANELISTS Dr. Leslie Downing: Psychology Dr. Robert Compton: Political Science Dr. Fida Mohammad: Sociology Dr. Joshua Rosenthal, History . September 11, 2001 (10:15am).

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Suny oneonta analysis of terror

SUNY ONEONTA“ANALYSIS OF TERROR”

Wednesday - October 3, 7:30 PM

Moderator

Dr. Alexander Thomas: Sociology

PANELISTS

Dr. Leslie Downing: Psychology

Dr. Robert Compton: Political Science

Dr. Fida Mohammad: Sociology

Dr. Joshua Rosenthal, History


September 11, 2001 (10:15am)

My personal reaction at

witnessing of the

WORLD TRADE CENTER

destruction on TV.


  • WHY?

  • HOW COULD THIS BE HAPPENING?

  • HOW COULD ANYONE BELIEVE THAT DOING THIS HORRIBLE THING MIGHT BE RIGHT OR NECESSARY?

  • THEN IT DAWNED ON ME!!

  • IF ANYONE COULD UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE COULD GET TO THE POINT WHERE THEY BELIEVED THIS WAS WARRANTED, IT OUGHT TO BE ME!!


  • WHAT I AM NOT:

  • Terrorism Expert

  • Religious Scholar

  • Geopolitical Analyst


  • Experimental Social Psychologist

  • Expert in Attitude and Belief Change

  • Researcher in Group Dynamics

  • Knowledgeable about Conversion and Commitment in Cults and Other Powerful Groups.


    • "Apparently, one can assume what was done was done by people out of a genuine and sincere belief that they were helping bring about the will of God.

    • And that, in turn, may be the most frightening thing about it."

    • (Jane I. Smith, a professor at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and author of "Islam in America" (Columbia, 1999), describing the excerpts from a handwritten note, copies of which were found in the effects of at least three of the terrorist groups.)


    • How could anyone out of a genuine and sincere belief that they were helping bring about the will of God.sincerely believe this act was the will of God?

    • Is this unprecedented?

    • An aberration of human nature?

    • Were these people Evil?

    • Were they Insane?


    • Unprecedented? (NO); out of a genuine and sincere belief that they were helping bring about the will of God.

    • History is full of equally disturbing acts of reprehensible, or self-destructive behavior.


    • EVIL? out of a genuine and sincere belief that they were helping bring about the will of God.

    • Horrific, reprehensible, extremely bad, of course, but evil? Not if evil conveys a meaning of supernatural forces, or forces beyond possibility of understanding or control. To characterize such behavior as evil diminishes our resolve to try to do something about it, and it distorts our understanding of what types of interventionsmight be useful in preventing a reoccurrence.


    • INSANE? (NO)!! out of a genuine and sincere belief that they were helping bring about the will of God.

      • NOT A PATHOLOGY OF INDIVIDUALS:

      • Psychological diagnoses of members of cults who have come to accept extreme or fanciful interpretations of reality have routinely shown them to not be mentally ill, or psychologically disturbed.

      • POSSIBLY A PATHOLOGY OF GROUP DYNAMICS:

      • They have come to accept an alternative interpretation of reality, which differs greatly from that of the larger culture in which they are embedded. If there is pathology here, it is not a pathology of individual psychological functioning, but of group dynamics.


    • CONSIDER THESE HISTORICAL EXAMPLES: out of a genuine and sincere belief that they were helping bring about the will of God.

    • The People’s Temple: Murdered their own babies!

    • Heaven’s Gate:Killed and discarded their own physical bodies!

    • Japanese kamikaze pilots: Died flying planes into enemy ships!


    THE ROLE OF IDEOLOGY: WHAT DID THE TERRORISTS BELIEVE? out of a genuine and sincere belief that they were helping bring about the will of God.

    Excerpts from a speech by Osama bin Laden in 1996:

    Billed as a Declaration of War against the United States.

    “ Our youths believe in paradise after death. They believe that taking part in fighting will not bring their day nearer; and staying behind will not postpone their day either.”

    “Pen lifted, papers dried, it is fixed. Nothing in these truths can be changed"

    “Our youths took note of the meaning of the poetic verse: If death is a predetermined must, then it is a shame to die cowardly."


    "A martyr will not feel the pain of death except like how you feel when you are pinched"...

    "Martyr privileges are guaranteed by Allah; forgiveness with the first gush of his blood, he will be shown his seat in paradise, he will be decorated with the jewels of belief, married off to the beautiful ones, protected from the test in the grave, assured security in the day of judgement, crowned with the crown of dignity, a ruby of which is better than this whole world and its' entire content, wedded to seventy two of the beautiful ones of Paradise, and his intercession on the behalf of seventy of his relatives will be accepted"


    you feel when you are pinched"...Those youths know that their rewards in fighting you, the USA, are double their rewards in fighting someone else......

    They have no intention except to enter paradise by killing you.

    An infidel, and enemy of God like you, cannot be in the same hell with his righteous executioner.”


    THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY OF IDEOLOGICAL CONVERSION AND COMMITMENT:

    IDEOLOGICAL CONVERSION: How might some individuals be persuaded to believe in an ideological view, (one divergent from that of the larger culture in which they are embedded), that justifies behaviors such as the World Trade Center attacks?

    IDEOLOGICAL COMMITMENT: How and when does behavior, even behavior that seems incompatible with basis human values or with one’s own self-interest, actually occur as a result of accepting such ideological beliefs?


    • IDEOLOGICAL CONVERSION COMMITMENT:: (From “Fragile Realities: Conversion and Commitment in Cults and Other Powerful Groups.” Downing, L. L. - Unpublished manuscript).

    • A SIX-COMPONENT MODEL

    • 1. Threat: Failure of one’s initial beliefs to adequately fulfill necessary functions.

      • 2. Weak Internal Resources: Inability to find sufficient personal resources to cope with the experienced deficiencies of the initial system.

      • 3. Weak External Resources: Insufficiency of old social support, such as would help one to sustain initial beliefs in the face of threat.

      • 4. New Social Support: Access to new social support, such as will eventually provide the context in which new ideological beliefs can be accepted.

      • 5. Provision of Ideology: Exposure to a new ideology, the acceptance of which will eventually be required for inclusion in the new group.

      • 6. Consolidation: Conditions promoting consolidation of and commitment to the new ideology


    IDEOLOGICAL COMMITMENT COMMITMENT:: (From “Fragile Realities: Conversion and Commitment in Cults and Other Powerful Groups.” Downing, L. L. - Unpublished manuscript).

    A NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF COMMITMENT MECHANISMS

    1. Voluntary and Public Endorsement

    2. Irreversible Behavioral Commitment

    3. Personal Sacrifice and Investment

    4. Burned Bridges

    5. Side-bets

    6. Narrow Attentional Focus


    CONCLUSION: COMMITMENT: Conversion and Commitment of individuals to a terrorist ideology and subsequent terrorist activity can be best understood as consequences of social psychological processes operating in the context of powerful groups.


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