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Terrorist Ideologies: Selecting a Target Essay

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Updated: Jun 7th, 2021


Terrorism is a severe threat in the modern world and understanding the specifics of what impacts it can provide a better understanding of how to overcome this issue. Terrorism is typically planned out and carried out in groups due to the nature of the process and the anticipated impact that should affect a large number of people. Therefore, a need for further research into communities that are at risk of being recruited and ideology implications that determine terrorist actions is necessary.

Terrorist target selection links to the group’s underlying ideological perspective and their goals because it affects the motives and therefore the decision-making process. Ahmed (2018) states that ideology is the primary factor that determines the target chosen by terrorists, however, over time all groups decide to attack civilians or security establishments. The study conducted by this author concludes that groups with religious ideology are more likely to attack civilians, while other groups can only be interested in impacting businesses. This is connected to the motivation and justification that the specific beliefs of these groups imply.

The 8 phases of terrorism are a specific model that describes the actions that these individuals do to carry out an attack. Those are surveillance, inquiries, security test, fundraising, gathering of supplies, suspicious behavior, testing, and acting (“8 signs of terrorism,” n.d.). These steps help terrorist groups achieve their goals and objectives because it allows them to plan the specific impact they want to accomplish to engage recruits or other individuals in the process and carry out the plan.

The radicalization model describes events in which people become motivated to use violence against a group of individuals. This process consists of three phases – sensitivity, group membership, and action (Doosje et al., 2016). Firstly, an individual may feel a connection with a specific ideology, then, he or she joins a group, and finally, this person is ready to commit actions on behalf of the group.

In regards to targeting and indoctrination, terrorist groups apply models of psychological impact by creating an environment where their recruits feel significant, respected, and as if they belong somewhere. The sense of in-group belongingness is crucial for indoctrination because terrorists usually isolate individuals from their social environment and subject individuals to training. Overall, terrorist actions, including planning and recruiting are closely connected to their ideology.

Diaspora Population

Diaspora groups are people living outside of their homeland for varied reasons, which include refugees and immigrants. A critical component of these groups is that the cultural or religious believes prevalent in the country of origin are usually preserved by these groups. According to Plazza (2019), terroristic groups often use ethnic or religious factors to leverage their recruitment process. Having people in the targeted country is essential for terrorists because they can provide support either financially or by carrying out the plans of the group.

Some diaspora groups are at risk of radicalization because due to the nature of these communities they maintain a connection with their homelands. Therefore, they are engaged in the affairs that occur within their home countries and participate in the political, public, and economic life of these states. Plazza (2019) points out that in the contemporary world, the Muslim diaspora is often recruited by al-Qaeda or the Islamic State. Therefore, the risk factors for these groups include the inability to integrate into the social, political, and economic life of the new country and secure connection with the home state.

Potential public policy approaches that can be applied to minimize the risk of radicalization are connected to the integration of diaspora into US society. This can target different elements, depending on a specific diaspora group; for instance, the government should show support to religious communities and minorities to ensure that they do not feel excluded. Recommendations for implementation include a thorough examination of the needs of both diaspora groups and potential elements of their life that terrorists can use for recruitment.

This will help specifically target a group with a predefined worldview and tailor the policy to their needs. Communication with diaspora members is crucial to ensure that the process of development and implementation is appropriate.


Different worldviews of various populations should be considered when developing these public policies. It is because for one group the approach may be valid while the other will not be able to use it. This happens as they have a different religion or the issue they experience in the US is not outlined in the policy. Therefore, it is crucial to identify the factors that shape the ideology of a terrorist group; for instance, religious communities may use their beliefs as the basis for their actions.

In that case, the policy should target education and involvement of diaspora members into the spiritual life of the state where they currently reside. Groups that focus on business activity, however, would not be interested in such an incentive. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a policy that would ensure equality of work and business activity for different groups.

Based on this information about the specifics of these communities it can be argued that factors that can shape a worldview of the diaspora are the culture and religion of their home country, their connecting to life in the homeland, and the involvement in the politics and economics of the state. Overall, terrorists target populations that are vulnerable and may experience exclusion from the community in the country of residence. Therefore, it is crucial to support diaspora through public policy.


Ahmed, R. (2018). Terrorist ideologies and target selection. Journal of Applied Security Research, 13(3), 376–390. Web.

Doosje, B., Moghaddam, F. M., Kruglanski, A., de Wolf, A., Mann, L., Feddes, Al. (2016). Terrorism, radicalization and de-radicalization. Current Opinion in Psychology, 11, 79-84. Web.

. (n.d.). Web.

Plazza, A. J. (2019). . Web.

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