Creating Young Martyrs

Conditions That Make Dying in a Terrorist Attack Seem Like a Good Idea

by Alice LoCicero and Samuel J. Sinclair


Explains how and why we must understand the conditions that spur youths to become martyrs by making them think suicide bombings and other acts of self-destructive terrorism are a good way to die.

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August 2008


Pages 148
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/General
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The authors explain how and why we must understand the conditions that spur youths to become martyrs by making them think suicide bombings and other acts of self-destructive terrorism are a good way to die. LoCicero and Sinclair present cutting-edge research and theory about the political, social, and living conditions that raise the risk of children deciding to join organizations that use terrorist tactics, and, having joined, to volunteer for missions in which they intentionally die while causing death and destruction, in order to make an impact. Equally important, LoCicero and Sinclair offer concrete suggestions about how ordinary Americans can help reduce and prevent terrorism around the globe.

Table of Contents

Chapter OneEndangered ChildrenLife in War-Affected AreasOn the GroundPast Checkpoints, Into TownAcross the GlobeKnowledge, Power, ActionSocial Science of Youthful TerroristsChapter Two2007 Madrid: I Declare this Conference Open.Interdisciplinary Analyses of Aggression and TerrorismUpdate on the Social Science of Aggression and TerrorismThe QuestionsWhat is Terrorism?Defining TerrorismDefining a TerroristPrototypes of TerroristsSocial Scientists Describing Child TerroristsIn the Meantime: Proposal for a Consensus ModelTerrorism and AltruismDistinguishing Legitimate Militaries from Terrorist GroupsWhat About Legitimate Grievances?Could Terrorist Acts Ever be Performed by Normal People?What about Demographics and Motivation?What about the Demographics of Child Terrorists?Comparing Child Terrorists with Child SoldiersWhat about Distribution of Wealth and Resources?A Question that did not come up: Biological Determinism for AggressionChapter ThreeTwenty-First Century Terrorism and the Development of Youthful TerroristsChild Soldier, Child TerroristCognitive Development and Youth in War-Affected AreasGroup-Defined IdentityDeciding to Engage in a Terrorist Act: The Youthful BrainThe Ecology of DevelopmentThe Propensity to Engage in Terrorist ActsThe Production-Line AnalogyPreventing the Recruitment of Youth as MartyrsChapter FourWhen the Last Tamil Has DiedWhen will the war end? Never.What will it be like when the war ends?The Irony of a Common ThemeTalking About ItFreedom to TravelThe Privilege of an EducationHow old should someone be before joining a fighting force?Growing up in War-affected AreasEthnic Conflict: An Informed Account of a Minority Childs ExperienceFrom the Childs Point of View: Very Young Children in War-Affected AreasMiddle ChildhoodOlder Children: Thirteen and BeyondTruth and LiesThings You Know; Things You Dont KnowIt all Looks Clear NowCredible?Chapter FiveVictims of 21st Century War: Are We all in This Together?Costs of War: Young Men and WomenMilitary Service vs. Rebel MilitiaParents of Youthful Terrorists Who have Died in AttacksChain of EventsCreating Martyrs: What Americans Need to KnowCommon American Theories About Youthful TerroristsRadical Differences in ExperienceUnderscoring the Need for Better Knowledge of the WorldEcological PsychologyA Very Good CauseA Very Good Cause: What Do They Know and How do They Know It?Trust and Distrust in the USHow Distrust of News Contributes to Recruitment of Children in War-Affected AreasStop Providing Weapons.ResourcesDont Discount Our GenerationShared Future: Human Rights, Terrorism, and Youth Around the WorldNuclear TabooVery Brief Historical OverviewContemporary Nuclear ThreatNuclear ThreatSome Evidence and Scenarios for Possible Nuclear Attack on the United StatesCould A Terrorist Organization Obtain a Nuclear Weapon?Could a Nuclear Weapon be Transported into the US?Chapter SixThe FishermanOn a Global Scale: The Fishermans Potential NetworkGood guys and bad guys: The bad guys keep on coming.Managing the Difficult ViewHearts and Minds?Winning Hearts and Minds: A Modest ProposalAmerican Compassion and MercyKnowing Hearts and MindsWhy try to understand those who would perpetrate violence on innocent people?Northern IrelandChallenging misperceptions: Everyday heroismAbout the AuthorsSeries Afterword



"This is a relatively short book composed of six chapters. The first chapter consists of a chatty travelogue describing one author's visit to Sri Lanka. The second begins with the description of a conference held in 2007 in Madrid and then uses it as a backdrop for consideration of the problems of defining 'terrorism' and 'terrorist,' as well as other major conceptual problems faced by scholars studying terrorism. The book relies primarily on the impressions gathered on the visit to Sri Lanka, secondary scholarly sources, literary works, and conference proceedings. The third chapter tries to apply the literature on cognitive development. The fourth focuses on the hopelessness of ending the 'war' these children are facing--some child interview material is used anecdotally. The fifth considers the problem that most victims of terrorist attacks are civilians."Choice


"What could possibly lead young people, in their teens or even younger, to knowingly take their own lives in order to kill others? LoCicero and Sinclair provide thoughtful, original, and provocative answers to this question. Unlike other recent discussions of the motives that drive terrorist violence, the authors take a developmental and cultural perspective, focusing on the evolving mind of the young person who lives in a world in which his or her people are dominated by powerful others and basic human rights and opportunities are scarce. Based on the best modern and classic scholarship and their own in-depth interviews with young and older persons in war-torn regions, they provide a powerful analysis that is sure to add to our understanding of one of the most vexing problems facing today's world."—Tom Pyszczynski, Ph.D, Professor of Psychology, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

"The importance of this book, based on research in Sri Lanka, lies in its imaginative construction of the real choices faced by children recruited for war. Without minimizing the horror and terror of warfare, it portrays a complex process of decision making that often involves the weighing of personal risk against the pull of other cultural and social forces. The result is a study of child soldiers that avoids the cliche-ridden commentary that informs most studies of this subject and lets us see children as real social actors in times of conflict."—David M. Rosen, J.D., Ph.D, Professor of Anthropology and Law, Fairleigh Dickinson University

"The war on terror can never be won with guns, but rather by understanding the forces that drive an individual to become a terrorist and then constructively addressing those forces. This book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of why children are driven to terrorism. The insights it offers may allow us to formulate policies that deter children at risk from engaging in terrorism."—Naresh Gunaratnam, Clinical Scholar, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor, Michigan

"This very readable book lucidly explores the life events through which children become soldiers in terrorist organizations and potential martyrs for their causes. The authors present well-established social and developmental theories from every-day life and use them to interpret these events. By going beyond the realm of individual pathology and considering development in a social environment, they shed light on a horrific phenomenon. The study of terrorism greatly needs such examples of using the psychology learned from our ordinary lives."—Arthur J. Kendall Ph.D., President, Social Research Consultants, University Park, Maryland

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