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Global AlertThe Rationality of Modern Islamist Terrorism and the Challenge to the Liberal Democratic World$
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Boaz Ganor

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231172127

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231172127.001.0001

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The Rationale of Modern Islamist Terrorism

The Rationale of Modern Islamist Terrorism

(p.97) 7 The Rationale of Modern Islamist Terrorism
Global Alert

Boaz Ganor

Columbia University Press

This chapter explains the rationale that motivates terrorist organizations in general, and Islamist terrorist organizations in particular, and what fuels their determination to preserve their operative capability. Far from being irrational or depraved, terrorists are rational actors who employ cost-benefit calculations in determining when and how to exert their influence. Though incongruous to the West, their considerations are sometimes marked by an internal logic that emanates from their ideology and goals. It is therefore necessary to engage terrorist organizations in a manner that is intelligible to them—as can be reasonably inferred from their root motivations and goals, which inform the terrorist organization's rationale as a whole, and in differentiating these from their more immediate and mutable instrumental motivations and goals, which are generally pursuant to but at times divergent from their root motivations and goals.

Keywords:   terrorist organizations, Islamist terrorist organizations, root motivations, root goals, instrumental motivations, instrumental goals, cost-benefit calculations

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