The management team of Face Activities extends our condolences to the victims, and their families, of the Istanbul airport attack.
Following a horrific terrorist attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk international airport, at least 36 are dead (earlier reports soared to as many as 50) and dozens were injured, possibly as many as 147. At this time official sources indicate ISIS terrorists are most likely to blame, though there’s been speculation that Kurdish separatists could be responsible.
Three attackers used automatic weapons to assault airport travelers in the bustling airport, but when police returned fire, they detonated explosive devices, killing themselves and many innocent bystanders. The police may have stopped the terrorists before they entered an even more crowded part of the airport, which could have lead to even greater casualties.
Learn about Istanbul airport attack (BBC)
Photo: by Josef Moser, (Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International)
The uncompromising extremism, and willingness to both kill and die for their cause, are characteristic of ISIS fighters, and terrorists. Though their barbarity is unconscionable, their will to fight is remarkably strong, rivaled only by the kurds, who meet them in battle with minimal weaponry, and an equal zeal for victory. But why are they so willing to go to such lengths ?
A study in Iraq, lead by anthropologist Scott Atran of the University of Michigan, attempts to get to the bottom of this vexing question by studying the will to fight on both sides of the conflict. The researchers identified two crucial components: closely held “sacred values” that a fighter is willing to die for, and a strong collective identification with his fighting group, often greater than the fighter’s own family.
These powerful motivators are present both in ISIS extremists, and defending kurds who have opposed them successfully in battle. They are noticeably absent, or present at much weaker levels, in a sample group of Europeans that Atran studied. It’s important to note that the sacred values can be negative, apocalyptic values, like those that drive terrorists to enslave others, or the positive, life-affirming values of defenders like the kurds, who possess a strong faith that they are right to protect their homes from invasion–a sacred charge.
There have been relatively few serious studies of the characteristics and motivations of those who join extremist and terrorist groups, but more are necessary. It’s vital to understand the motivations and tipping-points of those who join ISIS, who are often ordinary people from middle or upper class homes with no previous signs of radicalization, in order to help curb the spread of these violent jihadist organizations.
Learn more about study researching jihadist motivations (Science News)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons