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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression
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Aggression, Terrorism and Human Rights
J. Martin Ramírez
; Tali K. Walters
Deparment of Psychobiology, Aggression Research Group, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain
Society for Terrorism Research, Department of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts-
New England Medical Center, Boston, MA, United States
Online Publication Date: 01 September 2009
To cite this Article Ramírez, J. Martin and Walters, Tali K.(2009)'Aggression, Terrorism and Human Rights',Behavioral Sciences of
Terrorism and Political Aggression,1:3,219 — 237
To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/19434470903017805
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression
Vol. 1, No. 3, September 2009, 219–237
ISSN 1943-4472 print/ISSN 1943-4480 online
© 2009 Society for Terrorism Research
DOI: 10.1080/19434470903017805
Aggression, Terrorism and Human Rights
2008 CICA/STR International Conference
15–18 July 2008 Zakopane, Poland
J. Martin Ramírez
and Tali K Walters
Deparment of Psychobiology, Aggression Research Group, Universidad Complutense
Madrid, Spain;
Society for Terrorism Research, Department of Psychiatry, Tufts
University School of Medicine and Tufts–New England Medical Center, Boston, MA
02114, United States
Taylor and Francis LtdRIRT_A_401953.sgm10.1080/19434470903017805Interdisciplinary Research on Terrorism and Political1943-4472 (print)/1943-4480 (online)Original Article2009Taylor & Francis130000002009Professor J. MartinRamí
Terrorism is the very antithesis of human rights. (Human Rights Watch)
The Coloquios Internationales sobre Cerebro y Agresión (CICA) and the Society for
Terrorism Research (STR) welcome you to their second annual, co-sponsored, inter-
national conference on aggression and terrorism, held in Zakopane (Poland) in
September 2008. In the world fight against terrorism, each country has an interna-
tional human rights obligation that cannot get lost in the counterterrorism efforts. In
this year’s conference, we celebrate the 60th year of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights through a Keynote Speech, scientific presentations, and a special
Round Table to share personal experiences.
We believe that when research on aggression and terrorism is informed by the integra-
tion of theories and findings from multiple disciplines, more effective policies world-
wide will emerge. Not only will effective policies emerge, but frameworks for
implementation will more likely avoid violations of human rights if this approach is
Our responsibility is to provide opportunities to our interdisciplinary colleagues to
learn, share, and influence each other.
Learn – Researchers from around the world present their findings and offer
directions for future study.
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220 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
Share – Through structured discussion, play, and casual conversation, share
your questions, answers, and ideas with colleagues.
Influence – Our research influences worldwide policy as each country grapples
with managing its response to terrorism and other aggressions.
In this way, we can contribute to the diminishment of aggression and terrorism in the
world, and support human rights amongst all.
This year, close to 65 scientists from 24 countries covering all five continents are gath-
ered to exchange their thoughts and ideas on aggression and terrorism. They come
from Europe (Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, England, Hungary, Poland, Portugal,
Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, The Netherlands, and Wales), Asia (Iran, Iraq, Palestinian
Territory, and United Arab Emirates) Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, the Gambia, and South
Africa), North America (Canada and USA) and Oceania (Australia). We have the
opportunity to participate in four keynote speeches, six sessions of scientific presen-
tations, and a poster session. New this year we have a time set aside for an informal
round table discussion of personal experiences of aggression, terrorism, and human
rights violations.
We are pleased to welcome our keynote speakers. Arthur J. Kendall, President of
Capital Area (Washington, DC) Social Psychological Association and STR Advisory
Board member, commemorates the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. Yonah Alexander, Director of the Inter-University Center for
Terrorism Studies considers the question of Superterrorism in the 21st Century: Will
Civilization Survive? Adam Fraczek, Former President of the International Society for
Research on Aggression informs us about Terrorism and Interpersonal Aggression:
Conceptual Considerations from Social and Developmental Perspectives. And Gary
LaFree, prominent criminologist and Director of the National Center for the Study of
Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), shares his ideas on Countering
Myths about Terrorism.
We received a broad, robust response to the Call for Papers for this Conference.
Researchers and thinkers present their ideas on the following topics: Aggression and
Violence; International Security; Legal Approaches to Terrorism; Psychological
Approaches to Terrorism, with a special focus on the impact on human rights and
the image of the terrorist; and Psychological Determinants and Consequences of
Terrorism Threat.
We invite all participants, presenters, and esteemed guests to take the opportunity of
the 2008 CICA/STR Conference on Aggression, Terrorism, and Human Rights to
learn from each other, share your thoughts and ideas, and, ultimately, influence the
steps our governments take to reduce the incidents and threats of terrorism in the
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 221
(in chronological order)
The psychology of terrorism: a review of literature since 9/11
Blanka Rip, Shira Fishman, Arie W. Kruglanski, & Edward Orehek (USA)
University of Maryland
The September 11th terrorist attacks spurred a large body of research on the psychol-
ogy of terrorism. We attempt to integrate this work into a comprehensive account of
the terrorist dynamic. On the one hand, we consider the terrorist activists within their
social context. That is, we review research pertaining to the psychological factors that
motivate this form of extreme behavior, as well as the ideological, organizational and
social bedrocks that sustain it. On the other hand, we consider the psychological reac-
tions evoked by acts of terror, also within their social context. This literature reveals
a dual dynamic – one of collective inward-turning and subsequent lashing out.
Throughout this paper, we attempt to highlight the interactions and similarities
between the psychological processes that lead to the emergence of terrorist activists
and those that lead to (counterproductive) reactions to terrorism that fuel continued
intergroup violence. Implications for long-term counterterrorism efforts are also
Various perspectives on terrorist images
Tomasz Edward Kubik & Malgorzata Kossowska (Poland)
Jagiellonian University
Research on terrorist images is summarized, taking into account international
perspectives from various countries. Special attention is paid to other variables that
correlate with observed phenomena. Historical facts enable us to speculate about
political and cultural reasons behind images reflected in people’s opinions. In addi-
tion, various conclusions are drawn that concern potential practical implications of
observed images. Also included is an outline of promising further research in the
Raising martyrs: the rest of the story
Alice LoCicero (USA)
Endicott College
Child terrorists inspire considerations about winning hearts and minds, because
prevention and intervention are seen as possible. In order to understand the
puzzling phenomenon of children who willingly and intentionally die in a terrorist
attack, many citizens and researchers ask the following three questions: (1) What
motivates them? (2) What motivates their parents? (3) Why do parents celebrate
their child’s death? Pursuing these questions, citizens and researchers often focus
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222 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
on political and religious beliefs and circumstances of the community. Issues of
human rights – legitimate grievances – are also cited. However, past, present and
potential future global considerations, as understood by the children and their fami-
lies, are seldom included. Several of these considerations are likely to play a signif-
icant role. We consider perspectives on global bullying, unfair distribution of
resources and the global threat of nuclear disaster as part of the background for
A psychosocial analysis of the psychological violence strategies and the conse-
quences perpetrated by the ETA terrorist network in the Basque Country
Javier Martin-Peña, Alvaro Rodríguez-Carballeira, Jordi Escartín, Clara Porrúa, &
Federico Javaloy (Spain)
University of Barcelona
The harassment and the psychological violence (often named violence of persecu-
tion) perpetrated by the ETA terrorist network in the Basque Country involves seri-
ous consequences for the victims and violates the human rights, although it does not
necessarily cause injuries and death. However, researchers have not given much
attention to this issue. To analyze this phenomenon of terrorist psychological
violence, this study has two goals: (1) to delimit the psychological violence strate-
gies perpetrated by the terrorist network by means of the construction of categories;
and (2) to delimit the consequences or effects that have over victims the strategies
perpetrated by the mentioned network, by means of the construction of categories.
Two new categorizations were obtained, from a psychosocial approach, about the
psychological violence strategies and their consequences. Both categorizations cover
the contextual, emotional, cognitive and behavioral elements and show the psycho-
logical violence strategies as another way to terrify that differs from terrorist
‘Vicious cycles of war and conflict’ – terror management theory and practice
Kinga Williams (Hungary/UK)
MENSANA Intercultural Psychological Consultancy
Abdolhussein Abdollahi (Iran)
Islamic Azad University – Zarand Branch
Terror Management Theory is increasingly recognized as one of the most influential
empirically proven socio-cultural constructs of our day – deserving the most compre-
hensive scholarly attention.
Part 1 – Terror or tolerance?
Kinga Williams
According to the Terror Management Theory, alternative cultures are a threat as they
may interfere with culture’s main function: to buffer against mortality awareness.
The talk flags up two possibilities. One is a vicious cycle: existential anxiety re-
created by other-culture intolerance; the other is forward-pointing, towards other-
culture tolerance. Through the Mortality Management Hypothesis, The Reverse
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 223
Mortality Salience Hypothesis and the Rule Category Substitution Fallacy, connec-
tions are mapped out among Mortality Awareness, Culture Distance, Culture Shock,
Constitutive and Regulative Rules, Cognitive Errors, Terror Management Strategies,
Culture Learning and Intercultural Dialogue. Given that the present cultural–political
climate (the upsurge of fundamentalism/terrorism) is clearly the product of the
vicious cycle route, mindfulness of its workings is imperative. It is concluded that an
increasingly globalized world might require a multi-cultural buffer against mortality
Part 2 – Intergroup conflicts and the routes through which we may control them:
a terror management perspective
Abdolhussein Abdollahi
Terror management theory (TMT) posits that much human social behavior is driven
by the need to avoid conscious and unconscious reminders of one’s death and mortal-
ity. In this talk, first I will briefly review the general findings of TMT since its incep-
tion. Then I will point to how the activation of death reminders may instigate
intergroup aggression, resulting in such phenomena as war and global terrorism. Next,
I will zero in on two studies conducted in Iran and the United States, the findings of
which indicate that, when under the influence of death reminders, both Iranian and
American participants tend to hold a negative attitude of Americans (for Iranians) and
the US real or perceived enemies (for Americans). Finally, I will review the most
recent TMT-related findings indicating that priming people with such concepts as
compassion and common humanity tends to mitigate the negative intergroup effects
of death reminders.
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Right
Arthur J. Kendall (USA)
President of the Washington Social Psychological Association
In 1946, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It lays
out the Human Rights for all people. Much of the work done in the social and
behavioral sciences is directly relevant to the UDHR. At a minimum, it is relevant to
Article 27, the Right to Share in Scientific Advancement. We will ask Human Rights
researchers and practitioners at the meeting what help physical, social and behavioral
scientists can give them in their efforts.
The Science and Human Rights Coalition of the AAAS. Dr Kendall will
describe the coalition and his experience with it as a
representative to it from the Capitol Area Social Psychological Association. He will
also suggest things social and behavioral scientists can do to help celebrate this
The full text of the UDHR can be found at:
A colorful poster listing the rights is available on the AAAS website
www/HumanRts_Posterc.pdf. Another new poster is expected in May.
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224 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
Predicting fatalities in domestic terror events: do human rights violations
Amanda M. Sharp Parker (USA)
University of South Florida
This paper will examine the fatality rate of domestic terrorism in 15 Western Euro-
pean countries between 1980 and 2004 (N = 5261 events) using the TWEED dataset,
originally created by Jan O. Engene. A multi-level approach using MPlus will be used
to examine factors related to fatality rate. At the micro-level, event trend characteris-
tics will be examined. At the macro level, characteristics of the country will be
examined, including the country’s level of human rights violations, as indicated by the
country’s average score on the Political Terror Scale, taking into account Amnesty
International and the United States Department of State’s human rights violation score
for each country. Based on the findings, policy implications and direction for future
research will be discussed.
About balance between the fight against terrorism and the protection of funda-
mental human rights in the context of the European System
Anita Blagojevic (Croatia)
J. J. Strossmayer University of Osijek
There is no doubt that acts of terrorism destroy human rights, democracy and the rule
of law. There is also no doubt that states have legitimate reasons to take all due
measures to fight against terrorism. On the other hand, in the fight against terrorism,
fundamental human rights, unfortunately, come under threat. The reaction of transna-
tional institutions to 11 September 2001 varied: while the Security Council and the EU
took steps to toughen anti-terrorism efforts, the Council of Europe institutions in
general, and the European Court of Human Rights in particular, reinforced their
commitment to human rights standards. The need for a fair balance between legitimate
national security concerns and the protection of fundamental rights is reflected in the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (which has been ratified or
acceded to by 151 states), as well as in the regional European human rights treaty – in
the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Free-
doms. The balance in the context of the European system also articulates the ‘Guide-
lines on Human Rights and the Fight against Terrorism’, adopted by the Committee
of Ministers on 11 July 2002.
Parallels between crime and terrorism: a social psychological perspective
Sam Mullins (Australia)
University of Wollongong
Although the psychology of terrorism is far from a neglected subject, there is still
much to learn. ‘Ordinary’ criminals remain enigmatic but have proved a far more
accessible population for research purposes. This paper ‘bridges the gap’ between the
study of crime and contemporary terrorism by examining the parallels between the
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 225
two, and demonstrates the utility of the former for understanding the latter. Of partic-
ular relevance are studies on the social learning and facilitation of crime, processes of
social identification, group processes and the social organization of crime.
Defining political assassinations: how are they different from other types of
terrorist incidents?
Angela Scholes & Margaret Wilson (UK)
University of Surrey
Previously, research on political assassinations has focused on attempts to create
profiles and typologies of assassins, based on case studies of the assassins themselves.
However, there have been no attempts to empirically define what constitutes a politi-
cal assassination. This study considers how political assassinations differ from other
forms of terrorism, such as suicide bombings and hostage-taking. The range of terror-
ist actions available is compared in terms of their key distinguishing features. A multi-
dimensional model is derived which allows for comparison of terrorist action with
respect to a hierarchy of behavior, ranging from that typical of terrorism in general
through to the behaviors that characterize specific acts. The empirical definition of
assassination, and the implications for future research, are discussed.
Shut up or die: the jyllands-posten cartoons, media behaviorism and systemic
Steven John Thompson (USA)
Clemson University
The aftermath from publication of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons in 2005
resulted in a global precedent for changes in media behavior. More than 130 people
dead, death threats and murder attempts against newspaper staffs, closings of newspa-
pers or firings of editors in more than 10 countries, and economic repercussions all
quieted the media, shutting down freedom of the presses. Along with the rhetorics of
fear and terror exerted over non-Muslims to not negatively address Islamic tenets in
public forums, charges of self-censorship, criminality and inciting hatred further
aggressively encouraged the silence of media expression regarding critique of Islamic
fundamentalist ideals. On 13 February 2008, however, several European newspapers
reprinted the Bomb in the Turban cartoon in defense of free speech, and in reaction to
the fatwa which called for the death of cartoonist Kurt Westengaard. This study
analyzes rhetorically situational psychosocial methods and behaviors resulting from
these incidents and their related events.
From training camps to virtual sanctuary: the impact of Islamic jihad in the
virtual world
Vivian Salama (United Arab Emirates/United States)
From Hezbollah to Al-Qaeda, terrorist groups have commonly embraced the newest
forms of communications technology. The Internet is no exception. Web 2.0 is by
definition a place where communities of like-minded people come together to contrib-
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226 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
ute and augment content and ethos respectively. The rapidity with which this propa-
ganda is spreading is far greater than the efforts being made to curb its threat. Many
of the sites operate via secret passwords and can conceal themselves amid the 30.9
million sites accessible on the web today. Just as web surfers can access information
from all over the world simply by logging on to the Internet, jihadists can now be
everywhere without leaving home. I have written one of the most extensive and
detailed accounts of jihadi activities on the web. The brilliance and sophistication of
their activities was, in my mind, the most significant aspect of the study. My study
provides detailed analysis of the websites studied, exposing various techniques, includ-
ing web polls, web forums and more. I set up the Internet using the defining charac-
teristics of a failed state, and structure the Muslim ‘ummah’ as an ‘imagined
Super-terrorism in the 21st century: will civilization survive?
Yonah Alexander (USA)
Director, Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies
The post-911 world has brought about a new type of instability: it is more chaotic,
with many areas marked by ‘unruliness’ (e.g. Somalia) and by ‘rogue’ states (e.g. Iran,
Syria and North Korea). Religious extremism is expanding (e.g. al-Qaeda’s affiliates).
Ethnic, racial and national intolerance and violence are increasing. Terrorist organiza-
tions aspire to inflict maximum damage. Their links with states, coupled with
optimized criminal black market activities, may open the way for the use of weapons
of mass destruction and related horrors. There is a need for a reassessment of the
challenges in the twenty-first century and a search for better answers to the problems
that are facing the world.
Among the more important issues for immediate considerations are:
(1) Proliferation trends – what is the distribution of biological, chemical and
nuclear knowledge, technology and materials in the short and long
(2) Trends in terrorism – what are the trends in post-911 conventional terrorism
and the prospects for super-terrorism (actors, capabilities, motives, method of
operation and targets)?
(3) Impact and costs of super-terrorism – what are human, material, psychological
and strategic factors?
(4) Current responses to super-terrorism – what are the current responses to super-
terrorism, governmental, intergovernmental and nongovernmental?
(5) Requirements for the future national, regional, and global defense against
super-terrorism – what are the alternative strategies to prevent and cope with
In sum, will civilization survive mass destruction terrorism? The short answer is yes,
if we want to.
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 227
Influence of body weight loss on aggressiveness
Iciar Galici, & J. Martin Ramirez (Spain)
Universidad Complutense Madrid
At a time when obesity is increasingly prevalent, many people are trying to control
their body weight through dieting. Concern over the possible impacts of weight loss
on violence and aggressiveness led to the present study. One hundred and fifty partic-
ipants anonymously completed two questionnaires assessing their aggressiveness,
age, sex, diet, recent changes in body weight and reasons for the body weight changes.
In comparison to controls, an increased level of aggressiveness was reported by partic-
ipants who had deliberately lost weight but not by those who had lost weight involun-
tarily (passive weight-losers). The increase was stronger for hostile aggression than
for instrumental aggression and is likely to be due to the discomfort associated with
opposing one’s body weight set-point.
Relationship between expressive attribution style and reactive–proactive aggression
Jose M. Andreu, Carolina Marín, M. Elena Peña, Rocio Mateos & J. Martin Ramirez
Universidad Complutense Madrid
The concept of attributional style has had considerable heuristic value in the area of
aggression, where numerous studies have found that a hostile attributional style is
correlated with aggression. To evaluate this hypothesis, we administered a question-
naire for characterizing aggression (the ‘Reactive–Proactive Questionnaire’), along
with standard measures of personality (EPQ-J) and expressive attribution styles
(EXPAGG), to 97 adolescents. Expressive attribution style was negatively associated
with both reactive and proactive aggression (r = 0.36/r = 0.40; p < 0.05). As in adult
and child literature, characterization of aggression into two subtypes appears to be
relevant to understanding the role of expressive representation of aggression in the
complex causation of aggressive behavior.
Measurement of psychological mechanisms of aggressive behavior (assumptions
and instrument)
Marek Smulczyk (Poland)
The Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education
The proposed approach to measuring interpersonal aggressive behavior is directed
toward identification of specific psychological mechanisms of aggression. Based on
the literature and analysis of existing instruments, it was established that interpersonal
aggressive behaviors are consequences of activation: post-frustration emotions
(emotogenic, reactive mechanism); task-oriented, normative beliefs (cognitive sche-
mata and scripts mechanism); and immanent motivation towards aggression (imma-
nent, proactive mechanism). Through appropriate psychometric procedure, the
Inventory of Interpersonal Aggression was developed. The instrument consists of 30
items: for post-frustration, reactive pattern of aggression there are 10 items; to identify
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228 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
task-oriented, normative pattern of aggression there are 10 items; and there are 10
items for immanent, proactive motivation. It was established that correlations between
subscales are from 0.179 to 0.44 and the consistency of subscales is from 0.69 to 0.72.
Preliminary study showed that the patterns of interpersonal aggression behavior regu-
latory mechanisms are quite different among boys and girls and they differ among
people characterized by various social roles. Individual subjects’ scores of the Inven-
tory of Interpersonal Aggression are presented in the form of a profile.
Death anxiety perceived by university academics in Iraq
Faris K. O. Nadhmi (Iraq/Sweden)
Baghdad University
According to local statistics, 80% of the assassinations of Iraq academics targeted
people working in the universities, and half of them were either professors or assistant
professors. The majority of the victims were working in Baghdad University, Basra
University, Mosul University or Al-Mostansiriya University. This study investigates
the phenomenology of perceived death anxiety among university academics in major
institutes in Iraq. A 15-item self-constructed Death Anxiety Inventory designed in
accordance with the situation in Iraq was distributed to several faculties in the Bagh-
dad University and Mostansiriya University. The results indicate that Iraqi scholars
face extremely high level of death anxiety as mentioned below:
(1) Afraid of painful death (91%).
(2) Thinking of death of loved ones (81%).
(3) Afraid of body deterioration that accompanies slow death (72%).
(4) Worried about dying very painfully. (69%).
(5) Feeling that death is every where (66%).
(6) Terrified of seeing a dead body (66%).
(7) Obsession of getting killed any minute (66%).
(8) Thinking of personal death (53%).
(9) Prefer not to attend a dying friend (53).
(10) Would avoid death no matter what form it takes (50%).
(11) Think of death directly before going to bed (47%).
(12) Death is better than a painful life (38%).
(13) Feel closer to death than to life (31%).
(14) Extremely afraid to die (31%).
(15) Terrified by the idea of decomposition after death (28%).
Cultural values shared by Iraqi academics in coping with death anxiety are discussed.
Right-wing terrorism in the United States with reference to Oklahoma City
bombing on 19 April 1995 (Timothy McVeigh psychological and sociological case
Marcin Kazimierz Grega (Poland)
Jagiellonian University
The objective of this thesis is to present the problem of political right-wing extremism
and terrorism in the United States. The theoretical part discusses basic definitions and
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 229
examples and the typology related to the subject matter, such as rightist and religious
inspired extremism/terrorism, as well as the most important circumstances and
sources concerning the questions (political, ideological, sociological and psychologi-
cal). The second part is dedicated to the approximately 300 quasi-terrorist organiza-
tions embracing several hundred thousand people in the United States. The following
types of organizations are on the list of public enemies threatening home security:
opponents of abortion; militant white racists; opponents to the federal government and
simultaneously supporters of unlimited freedom; members of illegal militia organiza-
tions. A substantial part is dedicated to and treats the Oklahoma City bombing of
19 April 1995, which the author regards as the climax of US domestic terrorism in the
twentieth century. Not only will the record of those events be discussed but also the
process of arising the ideology of hatred in defiance of US authority, and the terrorists’
psychological portrait, including their connections with and inspirations by the Militia
Authoritarian orientations, threat of terrorism and preference for counter-
terrorism strategies: cross-culture comparisons
Malgorzata Kossowska & Mariusz Trejtowicz (Poland)
Jagiellonian University
Alain Van Hiel (Belgium)
University of Gent
Soledad de Lemus (Spain)
Granada University
Robin Goodwin (UK)
Brunel University
The authors examined relationships among authoritarian orientations, perceived threat
of terrorism and preference for counter-terrorism strategies in countries experienced
with terrorist attacks (e.g. UK, Spain) as well as those that have not suffered from
terrorism yet (e.g. Poland, Belgium). Many studies show that, although trauma and
feelings of threat after 9/11 are independent of individual levels of authoritarian orien-
tations (i.e. Right Wing Authortarianism (RWA) and Social Dominance Orientation
(SDO), these variables affect attitudes towards terrorists and support for different
strategies of fighting against terrorism (e.g. military actions, restrictions on human
rights). The results of our studies in part supported these findings. They have shown
that authoritarianism (but not SDO) is a good predictor of support for military actions
against terrorists, irrespective of the threat level, but only in countries that have been
victimized by acts of terror (i.e. UK, Spain). However, in countries that were not
directly affected by terrorism (i.e. Poland, Belgium) perceived threat mediated the
relationship between RWA and support for war on terror and employing military
force. Thus, in these societies RWA is likely to be related to beliefs and assumptions
about terrorism and terrorists that precede the militant attitudes.
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230 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
Weak states and terrorism
Peter Tikuisis (Canada)
Defense Research & Development Canada
The recent literature and public debate on failed and failing states has gained
considerable attention owing to the purported association between weak states and
the presence of terrorism. The majority-held view that weak states are more prone
to harbor terrorist organizations than stronger states has recently been challenged
and indeed a statistical analysis of the recent record conducted herein supports this
contrary view. However, a strong relationship exists between weak states and
domestic terrorism when the incidence of fatal attacks is compared between weak
and stronger states. Weak states are at least three times more likely to experience
fatal terrorist attacks than all other states. The implication of this finding is that
weak states should be strengthened, even if certain of these states are presently not
havens for terrorist groups, from a humanitarian perspective at a minimum and from
a long-term strategic perspective in concurrence with various foreign policy
Negotiating hostage crises with the new terrorists
Adam Dolnik (Australia)
University of Wollongong
The paper will build on a detailed analysis of recent case studies to outline the new
trends in terrorist barricade hostage-taking, and will highlight the adjustments that
need to be made to the contemporary crisis negotiation protocols in order to improve
the capacity of negotiators to deal with such incidents more effectively. Al Qaeda’s
hostage-taking manuals as well as recent hostage crises such as the Moscow theater
and the Beslan school are a clear indication that barricade hostage-taking will hence-
forth entail a much greater willingness to execute hostages and will feature large
teams of willing-to-die hostage-takers who will have the capability to effectively
repel a possible rescue operation and detailed knowledge of the hostage negotiation
and rescue teams’ ‘playbook’. If we are to keep up with the challenge, we must also
learn from lessons of past attacks and adjust our response strategies accordingly.
From the first glance, it is obvious that we are not prepared. While there are many
trained crisis negotiators around the world, almost none of them have ever had
contact with a terrorist hostage-taking incident. Further, the entire training program of
most hostage negotiators focuses on resolving crises that do not take into consider-
ation issues such as ideology, religion or the differing set of objectives and mindsets
of ideological hostage-takers. This is especially true in regard to the terrorists of the
‘new’ breed, who have become less discriminate, more lethal and better prepared.
Further, many of the paradigms and presumptions upon which the contemporary
practice of hostage negotiation is based simply do not reflect the reality of Beslan-
type incidents.
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 231
Societal reactions to terrorism in Bulgaria: mass media and security institutions
Tolya Angelova Stoitsova (Bulgaria)
New Bulgarian University
How and when mass media will reflect a certain terrorist act is an issue of greater
significance in working out a specific terror strategy in modern societies than conduct-
ing the terror attacks themselves. Even more – we could say that terrorism had
converted itself into ‘a tragic form of audiovisual show business’. Terrorism dictates
new rules of news rating on television and the Internet, trying in this way to manipu-
late audience. Reflecting terrorist attacks, and giving publicity to terrorists’ wants, is
part of the role society attributes to contemporary mass media. On the other hand,
exercising its public role, media ‘helps’ terrorists to achieve their goals. South-east
Europe is a region where it is easy to recognize what we call trance boundary terror-
ism. This is added to the reasons for establishing the National Anti-Terrorist Centre in
Bulgaria that will unify professionals’ potential as scientists, military and police
experts, journalists and civil workers. At the present moment in Bulgaria the positive
role of media can be revealed in two directions: first, in the popularization of the
specific preventive institutional work that has been done as, fortunately, there have
been no international terror attacks directly committed against Bulgaria; second, mass
media could facilitate the balance in connection between anti-terror institutions and
present in this way useful information to civil citizens.
Counterterrorism: an analysis of the non-conventional threat
Guillermo Velarde & Natividad Carpintero Santamaria (Spain)
Polytechnical University of Madrid
The terrorist practice born in the shadow of the new international order derived from
World War II had its most dramatic origin in the anti-NATO front groups, together
with nationalist–separatist vindications and the hard-line organizations that emerged
in the Middle East in the aftermath of the 1967 Arab–Israeli War (Six Day War),
which turned the European countries into a stage of international conflict under a
rather controlled terror. Today, and according to polls, the international community
feels more vulnerable than ever to the threat of international terrorism. For this reason,
a more effective and demanding counter-terrorist strategy is needed, especially in
those contexts in which the potential practice of non-conventional aggression could be
perceived. This paper analyses different counter-terrorist measures that could be
applied in the scenario of a CRBN attack. In the case of nuclear terrorism, counter-
measures to dirty bombs and crude atom bombs are assessed.
Trends in suicide terrorism
Albert Jongman (The Netherlands)
Strategic Analyst, Dutch Ministry of Defense
In the twenty-first century there has been an exponential growth of suicide terrorism,
especially in the main theaters of the global jihad, e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan/Pakistan and
the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In my presentation I will deal with the reasons for this
growth. Besides presenting new statistical data from a variety of sources for a number
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232 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
of relevant countries, I will pay attention to the logic of suicide terrorism, the different
attack methods, and the justifications for and the framing of suicide missions by vari-
ous terrorist organizations. In the last section of the presentation I will focus on the
vulnerabilities of society and the military in particular for this specific terrorist tactic
and will identify a number of crucial factors that can play a role in thwarting suicide
Terrorism and interpersonal aggression: conceptual considerations from social,
developmental psychology perspectives
Adam Fraczek (Poland)
Former President – International Society for Research on Aggression
Former Rector – Maria Grzegorzewska Academy of Special Education
In the presentation two main issues are discussed. First, it is argued that understanding
interpersonal aggressive behavior as an intentional act of introducing harm – as is
commonly done in social psychology – is applicable and useful in the identification
and description of terrorist acts (behavior). The cognitively advanced categorization
of aggressive behaviors is based not so much on forms of manifestations (physical,
verbal, indirect, relational) but on the nature of underlying psychological processes
and structures. These regulatory mechanisms are identified as: post-frustration
emotions (emotogenic, reactive mechanism) task-oriented, normative beliefs (cogni-
tive schemata and script mechanism) and immanent motivation (specific needs, proac-
tive mechanisms). Second, the question arises, what kinds of socialization are
experienced and how they determine development and stabilization of cognitive sche-
mata and scripts that influence, under specific circumstances, readiness to realize acts
of terror (interpersonal aggressive behavior). In the proposed model of developmental
path of this mechanism such elements are considered to be socio-cultural and family
background (i.e. approval for aggression); instrumental training in using violent
behavior; implementation of specific beliefs, ideas, etc.
Usefulness of categorizing functional aggression
J. Martin Ramirez & Jose M. Andreu (Spain)
Universidad Complutense Madrid
Aggression, far from being an univocal term, is a dynamic and multifaceted
phenomenon, with different concepts under the same term. There is no agreement,
however, in the attempts to categorize its different types. This explains the many
classifications of aggression found in the literature. Some authors use the form of
expression of the aggressive act as a criterion of classification; others prefer to focus
aggression on its motivation, function, purpose or goal. Even if distinguishing differ-
ent forms of aggressive acts might seem useless, the categorization of the diverse
functions or goals of aggression is very useful, not only because it facilitates its
theoretical development, but also for forensic practice, as well as for preventive and
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 233
therapeutic interventions, because of its emphasis on the propensities and personali-
ties of each individual.
Cognitive justification of reactive-proactive aggression among adolescents
Jose M. Andreu, Carolina Marín, Rocio Mateos, & J. Martin Ramirez (Spain)
Universidad Complutense Madrid
While aggression is a complex construct, convergent evidence supports a dichotomy
of reactive (impulsive) and (premeditated) proactive aggressive subtypes that are qual-
itatively different from one another in terms of psychological and neurobiological
processes. Socio-cognitive approaches have emphasized the important role of norma-
tive beliefs in the maintaining of aggressive behavior. In the present study, 97 adoles-
cents completed two questionnaires: the ‘Reactive-Proactive Questionnaire’, designed
by Raine et al. (2006) for characterizing reactive vs. proactive aggression, and the
CAMA, designed by Ramirez (1985) for cognitive justification for aggression.
Justification of aggression was associated with both reactive and proactive aggression
(r = 0.60/r=0.54; p < 0.05). This result appears to be relevant to understanding
individual differences and socio-cognitive origins of aggression.
Normative beliefs about aggression, emotional responding to violence and
proactive/reactive aggression in young adults
Lucyna A. Kirwil (Poland)
Warsaw School of Social Psychology
Proactive aggression is assumed to be a premeditated, controlled action. Reactive aggres-
sion is seen rather as an inefficiently controlled angry reaction. It was hypothesized that
in adult age proactive aggression and reactive aggression are related to different
emotional traits and different sets of normative beliefs about aggression and emotional
responses to violence. It was expected that the differences might result from experience
in observing violence. The only difference between two kinds of aggression in young
adults who did not have experience of observing violence was found in their emotional
traits. In the sample of young adults who had had such experience, two kinds of aggres-
sion correlated with different emotional traits, different normative beliefs and different
emotional responses to observed violence. A crucial role of observing violence and
normative beliefs about the appropriateness of violence for the formation of proactive
aggression is discussed.
Sexual violence against Iraqi women: anthropo-psychological perspective
Faris K. O. Nadhmi (Iraq/Sweden)
Baghdad University
Sexual violence is an oblique behavior that includes moral and material infringe-
ment of a woman’s body without her agreement or desire. This raping is performed
by a man or a number of men due to several aggressive motives: biological, psycho-
logical and political. Most oriental societies, among them Iraqis, have the traditional
belief that the chastity of a woman mainly lies in her body, not in her mind or
personality. On the other hand, an important part of a man’s dignity is decided
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234 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
according to his wife’s ‘chastity’ as well as that of his daughter, mother, sister and
any female relatives. The paradox that has happened, and still happens, is that the
man who has produced this value of the taboo action is contravening it himself by
steering his sexual ability in an aggressive way towards women with whom he is
forbidden to have sexual intercourse. As an extension of this point of view, four
authorities have practised their mastery over the Iraqi woman, forcing her to be
subject to different types of sexual violence (social and political). These authorities
(1) The Ex-Political Authority (Baath Regime) (1968–2003).
(2) The authority of the coalition occupation power (USA Army) (2003–now).
(3) The current theocratic political authority, simultaneously with extremist and
terrorist religious groups (2003–now).
(4) The social masculine authority of Iraqi society.
Furthermore, this paper has suggested a number of psychological and social
dimensions that may interpret this increasing sexual violence against Iraqi women:
(1) The weakness of the Super Ego.
(2) The general social violence.
(3) Identification with the models of sexual culture.
(4) The rumors and fear.
(5) Blaming the victim.
The mutilation of ‘womeness’ and the right to be human
Tina Lindhard (South Africa/Spain)
We live in a society where the logos – the mind and the intellect – are highly prized.
There is nothing wrong with this – the intellect has let us achieve wonders in the
exterior physical world. But there has been a price – in developing the mind to such a
great degree, we have ignored the soft whisper of the heart. Women are seen to be
closer to their hearts – traditionally they are the caretakers and so they are more
loving and kinder. Their ability to empathize with others is greater, as is their intu-
ition. But these are not greatly valued in today’s world – these aspects are rarely
acknowledged. In Spain, scientists talk about la idea feliz (the happy idea) from
which they construct scientific ideas and theories but they do not openly acknowledge
it as coming from the soft whispers of the ‘female heart’. The philosopher S. Arka
says that just as there is a metaphysical mind associated with the physical brain, so
we have a centre – the spiritual heart, which is metaphysical and associated with the
physical heart – even though science has little to say about this centre as yet. The
spiritual journey of today’s society would thus be about the journey from mind to
heart to consciousness, from the masculine mind to the emotional female heart – and
only then can we proceed to higher states of consciousness. So the very values that
will lead us to higher states are those which have not only been ignored in our
society, but also are often looked down upon, especially in men and by men. Largely
we live in a society where the emotional heart has been ignored and suppressed, or if
it is allowed at all, it is only in the context of the home. Of course the ‘emotional
heart’ is in all of us, and is not exclusive to women. Maybe women are still closer to
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 235
it than most men but if we are really to progress and find our true identity, then we
are going to have to recover this part. It is suggested here that only when the feeling
heart regains its place in all we think and say and do and we recover and enhance our
ability to empathize and feel for the other, can we honestly say that our ‘right to be
human’ has been restored.
Diamond Mark Eferigho Iriri (Nigeria)
Association of International Relations Students
Lagos State University
Mamdouh Darwish Jabr (Palestinian Territory)
Palestinian Committee for Social and Psychological Health
Joseph Okpalaugo (The Gambia)
Organization for Empowering Gambia Families (OEGAM)
Kelvin Mensah (Ghana)
In the study of aggression, terrorism, and human rights it is important to open our minds
and our hearts to hear the stories from those who may have first-hand experience. We
invite our colleagues from the Middle East and Africa to share their experiences in this
Round Table discussion.
Countering myths about terrorism
Gary LaFree (USA)
Director, National Center for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism
The central irony in the current state of research on terrorism is that, because it is a
method designed to provoke emotional over-reaction, effective policy is especially
dependent on hard data and objective analysis and yet terrorism research is an area
that is sadly lacking in terms of both empirical data and objective analysis. Even
though there has been a tremendous outpouring of printed output on terrorism in
recent years, much of this information has been journalistic and anecdotal, emphasiz-
ing especially sensational aspects of the lives of known terrorist figures. As a result of
the general lack of research attention, an area that is especially in need of clear-eyed,
dispassionate facts is especially susceptible to half-truths and myths. For the past
several years, the START Center at the University of Maryland has been collecting
the world’s most extensive open source data base on terrorism. The Global Terrorism
Database (GTD) now includes more than 80,000 attacks from around the world start-
ing in 1970. In my presentation I will use the GTD to examine trends in terrorist
attacks and the geographical distribution of terrorism for the past 35 years. I will also
provide data on the characteristics of global terrorism, including the types of weapons
used, the number of fatalities, and the longevity of terrorist groups. My presentation
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236 J. Martin Ramírez and T.K. Walters
will include a discussion of several case studies being undertaken by the START
Center that examine how counter-terrorist strategies by governments and strategic
decisions made by terrorist organizations affected subsequent attacks.
Nationalism, essentialism and perception of terrorist threat
Maciej Sekerdej (Portugal)
Centro de Investigaçao e Intervençao Social
Malgorzata Kossowska (Poland)
Jagiellonian University
This paper addresses the possible impact one’s ingroup has on the perception of
terrorism threat and support for particular methods of protection or/and prevention.
Bearing in mind that terrorism constitutes an international political problem, the
group perception is also considered from the viewpoint of international politics, that
is, from a national perspective. Combining sociological and psychological perspec-
tives, the paper suggests that strong nationalist attitudes echo conceptions related to
essentialism and entitativity, and civic attitudes promote a goal-oriented approach to
a terrorist threat. Therefore, it is argued that, if the individual subscribes to the
nationalist/essentialist standpoint on one’s own national group and international
relations, it seems reasonable that in the face of a terrorism threat, s/he supports
exclusionist policy, sealing the borders and military actions of defensive, preventive
or even retaliatory character. By contrast, a civil/goal-driven approach would lead to
negotiations, inclusion, individualization of the threat and opposition against global
Anxiety and threat of terrorism and support for antiterrorism policies
Malgorzata Kossowska & Anna Czerniak (Poland)
Jagiellonian University
Agnieszka Golec de Zavala (UK)
Middlesex University
The aim of the two consecutive studies is to determine reactions on terrorism threat
and anxiety that shape support for government policies designed to combat terrorism.
Based on the previous empirical findings we draw, a critical distinction between threat
and anxiety rests on their typical psychological effects: anxiety leads to an overesti-
mation of risk and risk-averse behavior whereas external and perceived threat
increases support for outwardly focused retaliation action. The differing psychological
effects of anxiety and threat shed light on reactions to government antiterrorism poli-
cies. Perceived threat is likely to increase the desire for government retaliation against
the enemy, whereas anxiety will undercut this support to the extent that the proposed
retaliatory action is seen as personally dangerous and risky. The role of political
orientations (i.e. RWA and SDO) as well as cognitive representations of terrorism and
terrorists are also examined in these studies.
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Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 237
Dehumanization and moral responsibility as predictors of outgroup-focused
outcomes and support for terror threat prevention
Anja Zimmermann (United Kingdom)
University of Cardiff/Amsterdam
Bertjan Doosje & Sven Zebel (The Netherlands)
University of Amsterdam
Tendayi Viki & Dominic Abrams (United Kingdom)
University of Kent
This research investigates the relationships of the four different de-humanization
components (ingroup/outgroup humanity and ingroup/outgroup animality) with
outcome variables related to terror threat prevention. We hypothesized a positive rela-
tionship between outgroup humanity and positive outgroup-focused outcomes (e.g.
motivation to approach outgroup members and support for integration and negotiation
of compromises with the Islamic world) and a negative relationship between outgroup
animality and negative outcomes (e.g. prejudice and support for military intervention).
Moral responsibility, as the adherence to moral principles and the motivation to
change the status quo, is considered as mediator between outgroup humanity and the
positive outcomes. A study conducted in the UK (N = 170) assesses the different
components of dehumanization considering different outgroups who were victims of
ingroup wrongdoing in the past (Kenyans) and in the present (Iraqis). The findings
reveal the unique relationships in line with the hypotheses. The second study (N =
160) manipulates different types of terrorist threat (realistic, symbolic, personal and
no threat) and assesses implications of dehumanization on the different threat percep-
tions, intergroup anxiety, ingroup and outgroup anger and support for different forms
of terror threat prevention (mild, moderate, harsh). It is shown that outgroup animality
is associated most strongly with symbolic threat, greater anxiety and support for
harsher terrorist prevention. Implications of the findings for terror threat perception
and prevention policies are considered and the distinct functions of outgroup humanity
and outgroup animality for positive and negative outcomes are discussed.
Extremism + threat = terrorism: understanding terrorism from a psycho-social
Shahzad Shafqat (UK)
Cambridge University
This research was contrived by hypothesizing a theoretical premise for three concepts:
‘threat’ as an overt representation of a hostile emotion; ‘extremism’ as a polarization
from the norm; and ‘terrorism’ as the hostile representation of this polarization. Two
studies were carried out to measure how people perceive others as ‘extremists’. By
viewing the video of a person who was describing a religious induction, the sample
was asked to form an opinion about the person. Before the video, there were four
different stories about the background of the religious group, while a fifth control
group had no background story. Each participant was introduced to only one version
of the stories. The manipulations in the stories revolved around the incidence of
extremism and threat. The findings of the studies provide credible psychological
impetus for understanding the relationship between extremism, threat and terrorism,
and how psycho-socially people identify with this issue.
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... The experience of researchers connected with Coloquios Internacionales sobre Cerebro y Agresión (CICA), whose research was endorsed by UNESCO General Conference (1989)., For more than 30 years CICA has been analyzing the relations between determinants of conflict-generating behavior and violence and-in the most extreme case – terrorism, indicates the necessity of examining those phenomena from the systemic and interdisciplinary perspective (Ramirez et al., 2007, Ramirez 2007a, Ramirez & Walters, 2009). Conflict generation and conflict solving depend on many factors. ...
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