Based on years of research and extensive personal interviews, 'Terror In The Name Of God' is Harvard professor and terrorism expert Jessica Stern's exhaustive study of violent extremists and the factors that sustain them.
Jessica Stern lucidly explains the components of terrorist violence, demonstrating how organisations are built by opportunistic leaders who make followers of the disenfranchised and recruit them into "operative" personnel. She examines in detail the function of terrorist bureaucracies, identifying precisely what terrorist groups require in order to be effective, and where they find what they need.
Based on her extensive interviews, Stern concludes that people join religious terrorist groups partly to transform themselves and to simplify life. They take on a new identity as martyrs on behalf of a spiritual cause. They enter a kind of trance, where the world is divided neatly between good and evil, victim and oppressor. They know they are right, not just politically, but morally.
They believe that God is on their side. But God, as is His wont, is silent. Even in the face of unimaginable atrocities, He doesn't answer the militants' call. And this, Stern argues, leads to rage and even more violence. The terrorist begins to mimic his perception of the oppressor. Eventually, in some cases, cynicism takes hold. What starts out as moral fervor becomes a sophisticated organisation that strives for money, power, or attention.
In this book, Stern offers insights into how terrorism might most effectively be countered - and explains why war is perhaps the worst solution we could choose.