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Structures Motivations and Qualities of Terrorist Groups

Structures Motivations and Qualities of Terrorist Groups

Terrorist groups consist of civilians who are in organized groups, and who covertly inflict mass violence on other civilians (Mason, 2007). The general structure of a terrorist group includes a leader, devoted members, and recruits who receive training. Every member knows their rank in the group and their responsibility. This strategic structure enables the success of the group’s agendas. For instance, in bureaucracies where there’s a centralized leadership, the leader makes decisions responding to circumstantial changes, enemy actions, and/or external factors that may call for a change in strategy (Silke, 2018).

Political, religious, and socioeconomic factors are the major motivations for terrorism as described by experts. For instance, In Northern Ireland and in England, during the ‘Troubles,’ the Catholic and Protestant groups conducted campaigns of violence against one another to seek political dominance. Additionally, the Muslim belief in mass killings motivates ISIS to engage in such activities so as to gain religious satisfaction (Spindlove and Simonsen, 2018). Furthermore, socio-economic problems such as poverty, poor education, and social injustices also encourage terrorism. In Peru, for example, the Shining Path group attempted to create a Marxist state by conducting campaigns of violence against the government (Zalman, 2021).

Specific qualities of terrorist groups define their strategy, structures, and motives. These include having an ideology that influences the group’s functions. This can be based on extremist religious beliefs, like Islam. The second quality is asymmetric warfare, whereby they carry out attacks independent of the government and target the whole country. They also live in isolation to avoid high states of surveillance and carry out clandestine attacks. Lastly, they are characterized by interpersonal relationships that are highly connected, as seen in cases where they have worldwide representatives.

To conclude, the structures, motivations, and qualities of terrorist groups are the essential properties that help in defining terrorists’ activities. The structure of the group is built in such a manner that the group simultaneously maintains its security and that achieves its goals. To add on, understanding the motivations and qualities of these groups is important in the subject of counter-terrorism.


Mason, L. (2007). M. Deflem, (ED) 2004. * Terrorism and counter-terrorism: criminological perspectives. Policing, 1(1), pp.123-125.

Silke, A. (2018). Routledge Handbook of terrorism and counter-terrorism. 1st ed. Routledge.

Spindlove, J. and Simonsen, C. (2018). Terrorism Today: The Past, The Players, The Future. 6th ed.

Zalman, A. (2021). Top Major Causes and Motivations of Terrorism.


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Discuss the structures, motivations, and qualities of terrorist groups.

Structures Motivations and Qualities of Terrorist Groups

Structures Motivations and Qualities of Terrorist Groups

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