Research Paper

Terrorism. The feelings this word elicits are quite universal. Horror, shock, hatred and sometimes even confusion. No matter where the major terrorist attacks occur, these feelings dominate and dictate people’s thoughts. From how the hijackers went undetected to how someone could commit such an outrageous action, there is a lack of understanding, misjudgment or plain ignorance about the roots these actions. This lack of information is causing a larger negative effect on our society as a whole. The lack of awareness can lead a harsher impact socially, politically and economically. Understanding the roots of such extremist thoughts and how its affect society as a whole will help aid in our trek to stop these thoughts and attacks.  Understanding the roots terrorism and radicalization and how it’s affecting society and individuals today will aid in our journey to stop it tomorrow.  

In today’s fast paced world people have little time to take in a full story. Every corner of the world is burning with the flames of injustice, economic inequality, and racial disparities, persecution of religion, and ethnicity, so sooner or later it can all become a blur. Right and wrong are blended and it is difficult to differentiate them. So when a people are lounging around after a long, hard day and see a breaking news story pop up, they might make assumptions or judgements based on stereotypes or simply case of being misinformed. When the media covers stories about terrorist attacks around the globe caused by radicalism, the word “Muslim” is usually thrown in the mix. People then begin to automatically connect the two. This has begun an extremely disturbing trend. People begin to automatically associate Muslims and terrorism, which can create an even greater negative impact on society and its views on Muslims as a whole. Religion and radicalism are two parallels. Radical extremist are trying to bridge the gap between the Islamic religion and their own demented beliefs, thus making appear as if these thoughts and actions are an Islamic norm. Making a connection between a religion and a radicalized extremist has begun to cause fear and uncertainty within society.  Author and professor of criminal justice, Michael Welch specifically calls this a “manifestations of displaced aggression and anger” (194). In his book Scapegoats of September 11th his studies show that people have been victimized or targeted by ethnicity or religion due to bridging the gap between religion and extremist thoughts.  Some people have begun to feel wary of their fellow Muslim citizens, simply based on the thought that they might share the same views as these mad jihadist on television. This misjudgment can stunt social growth. We become divided and separated, less diverse and understanding. The public would be taking ten steps back. If we can’t dissociate between the norm and the radicals, how are we expected to fight back? We can’t be proactive and take the correct steps to deal with terrorism if we don’t understand how it affects our own society. The illiteracy of religion has made many adverse effects on the social growth of our country.

“True terrorism has no religion, race or nationality.” A comment made specifically by Dr. Maurice Eze, he goes to explain the difference between religion and radicalism and the bridge that is forming between the two. Understanding regular Muslims will help people differentiate between the good and the bad. Being knowledgeable about the root of this problem will help us see how it is impacting our society socially and how we can go about fixing it. Religion is a form of organized belief or ideology that guides a group of people. Religion is as old as history itself. It is supposed to be practiced without any form of interference because we are free moral people, entitled to our own free will. Islam is one of the three great revealed religions of the world. Sehmus Demir explains that it began in the 7th century with the mission of Muhammad. He received it from the Angel Gabriel, revelations that were later collected in the book of the Koran. The essential message of the Koran is that there is one true God and that individual believers must acknowledge this divine sovereignty and lead a righteous life according to the commandments of the one God to attain Heaven. Muslim devotional beliefs center on what they call the five pillars of Islam. The first pillar is the Declaration of Belief. The second pillar is ritualized prayer. The third pillar is fasting during the Islamic month of Ramadan. The fourth pillar is the purification of wealth. Traditionally, 2.5 percent of one’s wealth must be given to the poor every year. And the fifth pillar is the pilgrimage that one must make, at least once, out of one’s own earnings, to Mecca. These regular acts of worship bring Muslims closer to the one God. In addition, the Muslims are prohibited from certain acts, including some sexual prohibitions, the eating of meat, drinking of wine, and so forth. These core beliefs of Islam have very large, very obvious differences from radical extremists.

These extremists may take their beliefs from reading of scripture out of context with no reference to history or a holistic view of the world. Demir goes on to illustrate to readers that there are “periods of modernity” (p.14) in Islam and that radicalism isn’t the correct or proper representation of the religion. For an example, countries have gone through times where it is more socially acceptable to not wear a headscarf, but in recent years radicals are calling for and forcing this back on women. Islamic countries evolve and change their views but unfortunately ridiculous these views still dominate radical Muslim attitudes worldwide. They have manifested in many rural, poor environments that has no touch with the modern world. The resistance to progress in human rights, gender-equality and democratic political reforms are often-too heard of from socially-conservative Muslims. They fight against political and social equality, education etc. According to the radical view, anyone and everyone opposed to their concept of the world is at war with Islam and must be treated as the enemy. This is why bin Laden attacked Egypt and Jordan; and why he wanted to destroy rulers of Saudi Arabia–despite the fact that they, too, are Muslim. They are attacking the people they consider their own.

Islamic extremism derives from a radical interpretation of Islam. Even among Islamic extremists, there are interpretative differences stemming from different sects and doctrines. Brecht Volders studied conflict and terrorism in Antwerp University, Belgium. In his study and article Assessing the Terrorist Threat: Impact of the Group’s Organizational Design, he shows how the geographical and cultural difference have alienated and ostracized different terror groups. It affects their organization and goals overall. This is why terrorist groups are divided. ISIS, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda, all have different core beliefs which were apparently derived from the holy scripture of the Quran. It is in this sense that the radicals have hijacked traditional Islam. The manifestation and growth of these backward beliefs have somehow made connection to the religion and thus begun the association between the regular old Muslim and radicalized extremists. This association is quite dangerous. It creates paranoia that world is all too used to. A perfect example of this would be after the bombings of Pearl Harbor during World War II. Americans began to fear all Japanese citizens. Or during the Cold War, when the fear of communism was so thick and palpable that innocent citizens would lose their jobs. We can clearly see history repeating itself, only this time with the Muslim population. It is blurring the lines and creating chaos within society.   

Differentiating between the regular and radical Muslims will benefit the country as a whole. It is important for the overall general public to be aware of how individuals within our society are being affects by this.  Breaking that association will create large amounts of social growth. The confusion and uncertainty will be done away with, along with any stereotypes or false information. Society will become more unified and we will be one step closer to learning how to handle this global crisis without it sullying the image or reputation of regular Muslims or it stunting social, political and economic growth.  

Understanding the social impact will help us become a stronger unit, while the knowledge of how it has impacted the global economy will aid in the physical trek to fight terrorism.  Financial markets have proved time and again that they are remarkably resilient to acts of terrorism. The attacks in Europe have proved that, however, the long-term damage may be more difficult to assess. Cities being attacked highlight the vulnerabilities of the country, but they recover quickly. But it was a different story during the 9/11 attacks. The attacks generated shock waves that reverberated around the globe for years and cost economies hundreds of billions of dollars.

There are direct and indirect cost of these attacks which in turn have short term and long term effects on the global economy. The direct economic costs are shorter-term in nature and include the destruction of life and property, responses from emergency services providers, restoration of systems and infrastructure, and the provision of temporary living assistance. The indirect costs of terrorism can be significantly larger as they affect the economy by undermining consumer and investor confidence. CFA, Elvis Picardo says overall, terrorism reduced our productivity. There is a larger emphasis put on security. While this is good for obvious reasons, it also cost us a lot in the long run. There are higher insurance premiums, not to mention the rigorous amounts of security checks that were implemented after 9/11. Those people and those hours put in could have been spent on a more productive, profitable activity.

Picardo also speaks about how, along with decreased productivity, it affects consumers and investors. Buyers are less likely to purchase from a country or association deemed unsafe and investors observe this behavior. Investors are usually unwilling to invest money into a company or country with no customers or that is deemed unsafe. It is too much of a risk. Even if the city or company takes extra precaution and has security, its reputation has been sullied. This also might cause workers to leave the company or even country. Attacks are meant to instill fear, and seeing one’s coworker abruptly meet his demise is more than enough to make a person leave.

Besides decreased productivity and its effect on consumers and investors, there are still other major problems in the economy caused by terrorism. CFA, Elvis Picardo has commented about the trading patterns observed in different countries affected by terrorism. The London Stock Exchange reported to have a significant decline on the day of attacks, while IBEX and Sensex fell after a week after terror attacks. Picardo concluded that attacks usually cause an immediate decline in the stock market but it’s up to the individual investor to decide if this is only temporary or. This pattern is causing countries millions with each attacks. Terrorist attacks cause stock markets to decline since it’s not considered a safe haven, banks and insurers are hit especially hard. Global economies could fall into a recession, debt can begin to rise and countries with large current deficits would be hit hard and face the consequences for years to come. These extremists’ thoughts and attacks have made a major negative impact on our economy. Countries are continuously losing money, since consumers and investors are going elsewhere and overall productivity has gone down. The United States alone is one the countries spending the highest amounts of money on defense and weaponry. Terrorism has proved to be a potent threat to the economy. This money could be better spent on other facets like education, or increasing capital.  Terrorism has proved to be potent threat to the economy, its effect on individual workers, the stock market and the vast amounts of money spent trying to rectify the problem in general are only a few of the problems these attacks have caused on the economy. While a regular citizen has little impact on the global economy, society understanding the effect terror attacks have on the economy will better help us deal with future situations that will hopefully lead a much smaller negative impact on the economy. This way we can better protect our economy.

Unawareness and ignorance has created a harsh environment socially and economically for individuals and for society. Addressing these issues can help us prevent an economic disasters and help us grow socially and hopefully not have history repeat itself by fearing a certain group of people. But if we continue on this path it will also affect us in the future, politically. The American people have generally been concerned about terrorism, even as other events have come and gone; since the 9/11 attacks. Our foreign policy priority for our country, ahead of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons of mass destruction, securing an adequate supply of energy and defending our allies’ security, is preventing future terror attacks. With elections coming up in November, the future of our foreign policy is sitting on a very precarious ledge. Who citizens vote for is more based on our social perception of Muslims than actual facts. We don’t try to differentiate between radical Muslims and regular Muslims this ignorance has led to candidates like Donald Trump to gain large amounts of supporters.

Author Adnan Khan says we are all “socially connected” (p.9).  Further in his paper “On the Road to Terror”, he speaks about how society’s social views are the one of the driving forces that decides a countries political stance. It is a very momentous time for the United States. We are preparing for our 45th president, so it also puts us in a very vulnerable position. Whoever citizens put in the White House will be the one to decide how we handle the war on terror. We must be socially aware and active in order to correctly choose a leader who will take the right steps and be proactive towards this problem. The next president must be socially aware of how Muslims are being ostracized and he or she must make decisions that will help with our fight against terror while still making sure that society isn’t segregating under the fear and paranoia.

Terrorism is the use of violence in the pursuit of political power. It has proven to a potent threat to the world. It has a myriad of radical, crazy followers that have led numerous attacks around the world. Along with the clear physical damage it has done to the world, it has slowly started to create destruction that is not clearly tangible. The fear, uncertainty and lack of knowledge is affecting society socially, economically and politically. Society is separating because of unawareness and ignorance. People have begun to make an association between attacks and religion. These beliefs in turn can have a very harsh impact on us politically. These social beliefs have a lot of power in our government. In turn, our social and political actions are creating a harsh environment for citizen on an economic scale. These imperceptible problems are stunting social, economic and political growth. It is important for society understand how people are being affected, so we can properly handle terrorism without creating any unnecessary damage to ourselves.  Understanding the roots can create large amounts of social growth. That will lead to better economic and political prospects. The confusion and uncertainty will be done away with.   Society will become more unified and we will be one step closer to learning how to handle this global crisis without it sullying the image or reputation of regular Muslims or it stunting social, political and economic growth.  



Annotated Bib

Demır, Şehmus. “On Modernity, Islamic World And Interpretation Of Quran.” Ekev Academic Review 12.37 (2008): 97-110. Academic Search Premier. Web. 10 Mar. 2016.

Harris, Marvin. “Cultural Materialism And Behavior Analysis: Common Problems And Radical Solutions.” Behavior Analyst 30.1 (2007): 37-47. ERIC. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.

Khan, Adnan R. “On The Road To Terror.” Maclean’s 127.37 (2014): 29-31. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Mar. 2016.

Leighland, Sam. “Pragmatism And Radical Behaviorism: Comments On Malone (2001).” Behavior & Philosophy 32.2 (2004): 305-312. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Mar. 2016.

Picardo, Elvis. “ Economic Strains from Terror” n.p 2010  Web. 20 Mar. 2016

Volders, Brecht. “Assessing The Terrorist Threat: Impact Of The Group’s Organizational Design?.” Studies In Conflict & Terrorism 39.2 (2016): 106-127. Criminal Justice Abstracts. Web. 1 Apr. 2016.

Work cited

Divide and Conquer – The Long-Term Political Effects of Terrorism