Terrorists — What are They Like?

How Some Terrorists Describe their World and Actions

by Konrad Kellen

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An examination of some of the motivations and, beyond that, some of the thinking on relevant issues, on the part of terrorists, on the basis of what four former terrorists have stated on their own in writing and interviews. The materials reveal that terrorists do not make their decision to join a terrorist group overnight, but that generally a lengthy process is involved; that terrorists who have joined often come into conflict over ideological or personal issues with their brethren; that in some terrorist groups there are widely divergent views on the use of violence, the effects thereof, and permissible targets thereof; and that one of the most powerful elements keeping a terrorist inside the fold can simply be the enormous problems of getting out and resuming a legitimate life again. The evidence also shows that decisionmaking in terrorist groups often is haphazard, and that training and preparations sometimes are equally so.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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