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Small Groups Find Fatal Purpose Through the Web

Abstract : Press Release Terrorism: Suicide attackers spurred by Internet and lack of ties (p620) Would-be suicide bombers are encouraged to carry out their plans because they tend to live in small groups with fervent political opinions, say the authors of a Correspondence in this week's Nature. Previous analyses have tended to assume that such attackers are focused on clear political aims, such as the emancipation of their native country, but many militants cite more general reasons for their actions, such as fighting against a perceived global evil. Scott Atran and Jessica Stern point to interviews with would-be suicide bombers and their supporters, and conclude that terrorist inclinations are fostered in people who feel humiliated, either through their own experiences or by empathizing with perceived victims of ill-treatment, such as the Abu Ghraib prisoners frequently depicted in the media. These drives can overcome rational self-interest and are not consistent with the dispassionate cost-benefit analyses often attributed to organized suicide bombers, Atran and Stern argue. Instead these impulses are fostered through isolation from the host society, perhaps through emigration, which leads to a situation in which people can be influenced by a small, strongly ideological social network. The effect is strengthened by access to the Internet, the authors point out - over the past five years, Islamic 'jihadi' websites have swelled in number from fewer than 20 to more than 4,000.
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Contributor : Scott Atran <>
Submitted on : Monday, October 10, 2005 - 1:01:59 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 9:58:02 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, November 25, 2016 - 10:04:51 AM


  • HAL Id : ijn_00000629, version 1



Scott Atran, Jessica Stern. Small Groups Find Fatal Purpose Through the Web. Nature, Nature Publishing Group, 2005, 437, pp.620. ⟨ijn_00000629⟩



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