MI5 has recently published a report on the research it carried on identifying British terrorists. The report not only stated that terrorist attitude is independent of one’s religion, it also asserted lack of religious practice as a common trait among terrorists. In Guardian’s own words:
This is a groundbreaking study because unless the real reason for terrorists to get involved in criminal activities is understood, they cannot be countered effectively. This study sets the stage for disallowing a stereotypical approach to the issue, usually linked directly or indirectly to Islam, and instead sets base for deeper studies.
MI5’s report is not the only work in this domain making such claims. While this report comes from a security agency, research works on exploring the causes of terrorism have been published in academia as well.
Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago and the author of “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism”, wrote an article for “the Age” in which he summarized his research on the causes of suicide bombings. He studied suicide attacks from 1980 to early 2004 and identified that more than a half were conducted by secular groups and individuals.
He explained the cause of the suicide attempts rooted not in religion but motivated by a will to resist and combat foreign occupations. In Mr. Pape’s words:
His analysis of Al-Qaeda is summarized in following words:
The success of winning against terrorism depends highly on understanding the motivations of the terrorists as well as breaking of stereotypes that seem to have been created in the West especially after World Trade Center attack and London bombings. Religion, in particular Islam, is not responsible and should not be seen as the source of terrorism – this is evident both from the MI5 report as well as from Robert Pape’s research. It is, however, often employed as a tool to aid rationalization of such activities in the eyes of novices and outsiders.