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Thursday, August 7, 2008

What Leads Some Ordinary Arab Men and Women to Approve of Terrorist Attacks Against the USA?

Mark Tessler and Michael D. H. Robbins ( both of the Department of Political Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) have completed an exhaustive research study on this question. The 320 page report, published in the "Journal of Conflict Resolution," concludes that:

Findings from representative national surveys in Algeria and Jordan show that neither religious orientations, judgments about Western culture, nor economic circumstances account for variance in approval of terrorist acts against U.S. targets. Alternatively, in both countries, approval of terrorism against the United States is disproportionately likely among men and women with negative judgments about their own government and about U.S. foreign policy. Taken together, these findings suggest that approval of terrorism is fostered by negative attitudes toward actors considered responsible for the political and economic status quo. Given that Algeria and Jordan have had different experiences with respect to terrorism and also differ in demographic, political, and economic structure, identical findings from these dissimilar countries suggest that the observed relationships are not country specific and may apply more generally.

What can be concluded from this interpretation is that support for terrorism against the United States does not flow directly from discontent with personal or even societal circumstances but rather from perceptions about who or what is responsible for the status quo and that this is the case among younger persons in particular. As emphasized, this pattern has emerged with striking similarity in two Arab countries that differ greatly in character and experience, thus increasing confidence in its accuracy and generalizability.

The researchers conclude that US foreign policy of promoting and defending repressive Muslim regimes is promoting terrorism, not 'Islamic fundamentalism." Muslims blame the US for supporting such regimes and helping oppressing democratic movements and support terrorism for opposing the US.

You can read the entire report

In PDF format
In HTLM format


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