I was thinking about this the other day after thinking about the recent assault at the Shopping mall in Kenya. What is the difference between a criminal organization and a terrorist organization? No one called Al Capone a terrorist. He did lead people to kill and “cause terror” in rival gangs, but never targeted innocent people to…
Trying to finish that sentence, “Targeting innocent people to…” led me to this question. Why kill innocent people? What motivation could someone have to make the choice to strap a bomb to their chest? The severely mentally ill, as seems to be the case at Sandy Hook, can do mentally ill things and is a separate issue that I may talk about in the future. But that does not explain people getting recruited into Al-Qaida.
What motivates a criminal? Risk verses Reward, criminal organizations exist to make money. The risk taken to do a crime is measured against the potential payoff. There is no profit for blowing yourself up.
But if you believe that for doing something your reward will be eternal happiness, what wouldn’t you do?
What religion provides is an end to the means. The difference between “America is influencing the politics in the Middle East to control the energy of the world. They should remove all troops from Saudi Arabia.” and “The US is the great Satan and has military bases in our holy land. The Infidels must be destroyed” is religion.
If you believe in the former you protest, sabotage, maybe even attempt to overthrow the government. If you believe strongly enough you might take up arms in the hope of creating the a better future. You may be willing to lay down your life for your beliefs. But there are lines you won’t cross. You don’t plan out a case where you cannot survive. You don’t plan to kill children. The intention to cause maximum innocent lives lost has no value.
It is within a religion that those attitudes can change. If I believe those people are evil and a doomed race/religion/country, then killing their children will help the cause. By planning my own death to do this thing I am insuring my arrival in paradise afterward. Religion, or the belief that actions while I am alive will affect me after I leave this world, allows us to rationalize these evil deeds.
If you look at the difference between the modern Nazi groups in the US verses the Extreme Pro-Life groups. The religious pro-life movement has bombed clinics and murdered doctors while the non-religious movement tries to take over small towns to start their own all-white utopia. The pro-life groups praise those who murder “The murders” and those who do the murders believe that they will be rewarded in heaven. Neo-Nazis attempt to bring about their vision not by eliminating blacks and Jews because then they will go to jail.
There is no deterrent we can make on earth
in laws or punishment to deter those whose reward is not of this world. Without religion there are no terrorists.
This is not to say that religion is inherently bad or that I am against religion. I am making a conclusion about terrorism not religion. Please tell me if you think I am wrong or right and why.