The spread of terrorism on a global scale has a number of prerequisites and causal factors. The demands that criminals make against the authorities, as a rule, are based on several forms, implying the ultimate goals of radical citizens. In particular, the forms of ideological, nationalist, and religious terrorism are the most frequent manifestations of extremism. In order to evaluate the characteristics and circumstances of the activities of criminal groups pursuing these goals, it is necessary to consider specific examples. As a background for analysis, the extremist actions of such groups will be considered as Vanguard America (VA), the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and Boko Haram (BH). Evaluating the activity of these prohibited organizations will be conducted on the basis of the concept of social confidence in extremism and its manifestations. Those terrorist actions that have strong support from citizens are a serious obstacle to the authorities and entail significant difficulties for promoting democratic values.
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Extremist Groups’ Identification
The activities of each of the proposed extremist groups have a similar background, but their final goals differ. According to ADL (n.d.), VA involves mostly young males and strives to communicate their ideas through the Internet and by distributing leaflets and flyers. This organization does not have the status of a terrorist one; however, its activity can be described as that aimed at countering multiculturalism (ADL, n.d.). Ideological propaganda is the key method, and the purpose of the grouping is the dominance of the white population. The reaction of the authorities to such propaganda has not yet been expressed, but it is evident that the methods that the grouping adheres to contradict the constitutional foundations. As a result of its activities, in 2018, VA created another organization – the National Socialist Legion, and its interests are identical (ADL, n.d.). Thus, an ideological background promoted by the members of VA is based on classical calls for a struggle for racial superiority.
Another group under consideration is the Balochistan Liberation Army, whose activities take place in Pakistan. According to Droogan (2018), this organization is separatist, and its desire for the sovereignty of a separate region, Balochistan, is of a nationalistic nature. The author also notes that after a series of terrorist attacks in 2006, the local government declared BLA an extremist group (Droogan, 2018). The members of the organization have set themselves the goal of gaining sovereignty, and in addition to Pakistani criminals, the separatist army also includes insurgents from India who support BLA activities (Droogan, 2018). At the moment, the nationalistic nature of the group’s actions implies a struggle to create an independent territory, but the authorities do not give official permission.
Religious terrorist activities are common among extremists, and the Boko Haram group is an example of such an organization. CNN Library (2019) describes the objectives and methods of its supporters and notes that the key goal to which BH terrorists strive is promoting the ideas of Islamic law in Africa, in particular, Nigeria. In 2002, Mohammed Yusuf founded this organization, and since then, extremists have carried out a series of terrorist attacks, and civilian casualties number in the hundreds (CNN Library, 2019). The attention of not only local authorities but also world organizations are attracted to BH, and countermeasures by the military are a reaction to crimes. The members of the group constantly struggle and recruit young people for their goals. They have not yet managed to reach the final goal, but periodic attacks on civilians occur.
Since each of the considered extremist groups has different goals and methods for their implementation, the background that led to terrorist activities is also distinctive. When analyzing the actions of VA, one can note that the neo-Nazi postulates as the ideology of certain circles of the population have become the driving force behind the development of this organization. According to ADL (n.d.), the adoption of European principles supported by fascists has become the basis for the creation of VA’s ideas. The spread of these theories among some Americans has led to the emergence of a movement against multiculturalism and in support of the superiority of white people over other races. Unlike their Nazi predecessors, the members of the group in question do not set themselves the goal of conquering the world. Nevertheless, their actions aimed at the extermination of individual nations are similar to fascist concepts.
Regarding the analysis of factors that encourage extremists from BLA to terrorist actions, it is essential to pay attention to the territorial aspect. As Droogan (2018) argues, Baluchistan is a rich and strategically important region of Pakistan, and its separation from the country is highly undesirable from an economic point of view. The members of this movement, conversely, seek equality in order to provide shelter to other interested extremists. When comparing this organization with the other groupings under review, one can note that it is the only one whose supporters fight for territories but not for the idea of religion.
The creation of a terrorist movement in Nigeria was the result of the spreading influence of Islam on this continent. CNN Library (2019) compares this grouping with the Taliban and finds much in common with this radical organization. The absence of a single religion allowed extremists to make an Islamic unity and involve many interested parties, thereby expanding the range of potential opportunities and influence. The fight against the local security forces is fierce since the army of Boko Haram is constantly replenished with new volunteers. As a result, the religious background of terrorist activities is the key driver.
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In order for the analysis of the development of all three terrorist groups under consideration to be comprehensive, it is necessary to evaluate their activities not only from a practical but also a theoretical perspective. For this purpose, one can draw an appropriate assumption based on the evaluation of extremism and its manifestations. When taking into account the characteristic specificity of the groups that differ in the direction of activity, in particular, ideological, nationalist, and religious, the theory of radicalization proposed by Webber and Kruglanski (2018) is suitable. As the authors state, there are several factors that justify the involvement of people in political violence (Webber & Kruglanski, 2018). This statement may be applicable to the three organizations considered.
The activity of VA supporting a fascist ideology has a clearly oriented extremist course aimed at the suppression of certain nations. According to Webber and Kruglanski (2018), in relation to the concept of radicalization, the tasks of ideology are in the phased implementation of the goals set. When analyzing the actions of VA, one can note that the organization develops gradually in new forms, and the emergence of adjacent groups is evidence of this assumption. These growth factors, in turn, prove that the impact on the mass consciousness through consistent ideological work is the most successful solution since the replenishment of the group number is stable. As a result, this approach characterizes VA as the organization conducting a strategically correct activity, and preliminary preparation has led to its appearance.
BLA, as the organization whose interests are associated exclusively with the territory within the country, conducts activities that also fall within the scope of the theory of radicalization. As Webber and Kruglanski (2018) remark, those separatist movements that occur at the collective level are “the social network that influences one’s decisions along the pathway to extremism” (p. 131). As a result, people united by one aim support one another for the sake of achieving a common goal and strive to succeed through common efforts but not individual struggles. In addition, according to Ghatak, Gold, and Prins (2019), domestic terrorism is acute in countries where democratic principles are not maintained sufficiently. Due to the fact that Pakistan is an Islamic republic, there are certain laws here. Thus, the considered approach is radical in the context of political violence.
Finally, with regard to Boko Haram in Nigeria, it is crucial to note that the principles promoted by local religious terrorists are based on the hypothesis of the need for violence proposed by Webber and Kruglanski (2018). As evidence of the counterproductiveness of this approach, the authors cite the example of ISIS (Webber & Kruglanski, 2018). They argue that its deserters recognize the illegality of their actions in the context of Islamic law, which is contrary to the ideology of this organization (Webber & Kruglanski, 2018). As a result, BH members act radically and see the only path to their goal through violence. Therefore, the proposed concept may help explain the nature of local terrorists’ actions.
The usefulness of the Selected Hypothesis
The usefulness of the proposed hypothesis of radicalization in relation to all the terrorist organizations under consideration can be proved by extremists’ motives and their methods of achieving the goals set. For instance, VA operates in stages, which corresponds to the ideological concept of a radical course on people involvement. BLA’s activity may be assessed from the standpoint of collectivism as one of the manifestations of the theory used. Religious extremism promoted by BH is the consequence of a radical approach to the planting of religion and people’s desire for political violence as the only possible form of struggle. In general, the hypothesis is relevant to all three groups and contributes to the understanding of the nuances of their activities and key requirements for the authorities.
Promoting democratic values is difficult if individual extremist organizations’ terrorist campaigns have the support of the population. The analysis of the three groups proves that their leaders seek to involve as many people as possible. The goals to which these organizations aspire are different in nature and lie in ideological, nationalist, and religious extremism. However, their methods are similar since the acts of terrorism committed are aimed at attracting attention and creating a politically unstable environment. As a hypothesis proving the prerequisites for the development of the groups in question, the theory of radicalization may be applied as a concept explaining the causes of criminal actions. Its usefulness lies in an opportunity to describe the factors that motivate specific terrorist organizations to take action.
ADL. (n.d.). Vanguard America. Web.
CNN Library. (2019). Boko Haram fast facts. CNN. Web.
Droogan, J. (2018). The perennial problem of terrorism and political violence in Pakistan. Journal of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism, 13(2), 202-215. Web.
Ghatak, S., Gold, A., & Prins, B. C. (2019). Domestic terrorism in democratic states: Understanding and addressing minority grievances. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 63(2), 439-467. Web.
Webber, D., & Kruglanski, A. W. (2018). The social psychological makings of a terrorist. Current Opinion in Psychology, 19, 131-134. Web.