Hazards of Terrorist Profiling

Hazards of Terrorist Profiling - Hazards of Terrorist...

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Hazards of Terrorist Profiling The isolation of attributes or traits shared by terrorists is a formidable task because there are probably as many variations among terrorists as there may be similarities. Efforts by scholars to create a profile of a “typical” terrorist have had mixed success, if any, and the assumption that there is such a profile has not been proven. Post (1985:103) note that “behavioral scientists attempting to understand the psychology of individuals drawn to this violent political behavior have not succeeded in identifying a unique “terrorist mindset.” People who have joined terrorist groups have come from a wide range of cultures, nationalities, and ideological causes, all strata of society, and diverse professions. Their personalities and characteristics are as diverse as those of people in the general population. There seems to be general agreement among psychologists that there is no particular psychological attribute that can be used to describe the terrorist or any “personality” that is distinctive of terrorists. Some terrorism experts are skeptical about terrorist profiling. For example, 44 Laqueur (1997:129) holds that the search for a “terrorist personality” is a fruitless one. Paul Wilkinson (1997:193) maintains that “We already know enough about terrorist behavior to discount the crude hypothesis of a ‘terrorist personality’ or ‘phenotype.’ The U.S. Secret Service once watched for people who fit the popular profile of dangerousness—the lunatic, the loner, the threatener, the hater. That profile, however, was shattered by the assassins themselves. In interviews with assassins in prisons, hospitals, and homes, the Secret Service learned an important lesson—to discard stereotypes. Killers are not necessarily mentally ill,
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This note was uploaded on 12/04/2011 for the course ANTHRO 2000 taught by Professor Monicaoyola during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Hazards of Terrorist Profiling - Hazards of Terrorist...

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