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What can a terrorist / gang organization offer me that I'm not getting from everyday life?

Terrorists and gangsters are people too. They are not necessarily stupid nor hotheaded. There must be something deeply attractive / satisfying about being involved in acts of extremism. The obvious are rewards in the hereafter. But, as, I'd argue, an instant gratification type, there must be something in the here and now that attracts these people. What is it? And is there a less terrifying alternative for them in mainstream society?

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    Jul 14 2011: I think Khary makes a strong case for the recruitment of the disaffected and abused, but if I understand correctly this is not quite what you are asking.

    There is something else I believe to be deeply attractive to those individuals who are often the most dangerous, who have money and education, connections and strong social skills, everything they would need to thrive in our society.

    It's the narrative. As Nawaz discussed in his talk, there is this narrative that sells these destructive ideologies. It can be very empowering to think of yourself as a revolutionary, a martyr and a force for good. By reconstructing their world in terms of the narrative it allows them to be the protagonist in a great global struggle against overwhelming odds. To be heroic, powerful and in control.
    • Jul 17 2011: I think this is exactly right, Michael. While the disaffected and abused are recruited as the foot soldiers, as Nawaz pointed out, the leaders of these extremist movements are generally very well educated and tend toward wealth. Indeed, it is their command of the narrative that brought them to lead these movements in the first place. So while I do buy into the idea that participation feeds the need for belonging, I think in terms of the leaders of these movements, it is much more about a need for self-actualization of the individual.

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