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ISSN: 2475-319X
Journal of Forensic Psychology
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A Comparison of Public Support for Moderate and Extreme Terrorism

Colleen Ann Norman*

University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

*Corresponding Author:
Colleen Ann Norman
University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
Tel: 077-6789-6518
E-mail: skyblue200000@live.co.uk

Received date: March 14, 2017; Accepted date: March 30, 2017; Published date: April 04, 2017

Citation: Norman CA (2017) A Comparison of Public Support for Moderate and Extreme Terrorism. J Foren Psy 2:121. doi:10.4172/2475-319X.1000121

Copyright: © 2017 Norman CA. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to 'Compare Public Support for Moderate Terrorism and Extreme Terrorism' in high terror active nations (India, Iraq, Nigeria); medium terror active nations (China, United Kingdom, United States); and low terror active nations (Australia, Canada, South Korea); selected from the Global Terrorism Index (2014); and to explore the effects of greater levels of threat (because of increased terror activity), on support by the public. To assess the reliability and validity of a new survey instrument in measuring support for terrorism and to evaluate a series of exploratory questions of added value. The voids highlighted in this paper validate the need for an international legal definition of terrorism, which has eschewed researchers, thus creating the potential for widespread abuse and avoidance of existing terrorism laws. How the media frames a terrorist event plays a significant role in the publics’ perception of terrorist organizations and the publics’ willingness to support them. It was found that a high percentage of the public are incognizant of which organizations are terrorist organizations; how their donations are being utilized, and persons are often unaware of their role within a terrorist organization. The findings indicated that overall, respondents were least likely to support extremism. Men were more concerned than women about increased terror activity and anti-abortion rights. Women from high terror active nations were least likely to respond to the survey. This research sets the framework for further investigation into moderate and extreme terrorism and exposes the challenges faced by researchers in isolating factors that contribute to public support for terrorism.

Keywords

Terrorism; Terrorist; Support; Public; Moderate; Extreme

Introduction

Civilians take their safety for granted and go about their daily business, not knowing if today might be the day when they will be subjected to a terror attack. Terrorism is an increasing global phenomenon in both developed and developing countries [1] and attacks have increased five-fold since 2000, accounting for the deaths of over 107,000 persons worldwide [2]. Public perception of terrorist acts may vary; according- to an individual’s perceived severity of the act, with many persons willing to support a radical cause based on whether they are cognizant or incognizant that the group’s activities are truly terrorist actions. A person’s individual choice to support a group’s actions may depend on the risks and seriousness of the methods employed to counter an obstacle that imposes itself on the rights of others [3]. By examining the evolution of terrorism, researchers can better understand the factors that have led the public to support terrorism over the years.

The early roots of terrorism have been documented back to the King of Assyria (884-860) BCE, where ancient ruins chronicled the lawlessness of insurgents who burned, cut off fingers, noses, ears, and decapitated their victims [4]. During the 1790 French Revolution, a more “avant-garde” form of terrorism appeared with the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians; who were stripped of their civil liberties [5]. Modern day terrorism emerged in the 1960’s and Rapoport [6], proposed four waves of terrorism, each lasting several decades.

Waves of terrorism escalate and then die off when the aims of the terrorists have been fulfilled. In the 1880’s, the first wave of terrorism began in Russia, where guerilla tactics were used to target state symbols (police, political opponents) by using commando-type tactics with light weaponry [7]. The second wave of terrorism was the Anti- Colonial Wave, which began in the 1920’s, and was the beginning of a period in history where terrorists were perceived as freedom fighters by some and terrorists by others. The third wave began to manifest in the early 1960’s and 1970’s, as violent terrorist attacks increased around the world from ten a week to ten a day between 1975 and 1984 [4]. Radical groups such as the Baader- Meinhoff Gang (Germany), the Irish Republican Army Provisional Wing (Ireland), the Red Brigade (Italy), the Black Panthers (USA), and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (Palestine) were active terrorist organizations during this time frame.

The fourth wave is the religious wave (Islam, Sikh, Jewish, and Christianity) that began in 1979, with the Iranian Revolution. The fourth wave was primarily dominated by religious concerns, assassinations, hostage takings, suicide bombings, the anti-abortion movement, animal rights activists, and environmentalists. The Iranian hostage taking of 55 US diplomats in 1979, by the supporters of the Ayatolla Ruhollah Khomeini, the assassination of Israeli president Yitzak Rabin (1995), the sarin gas attack by Aum Shinrikyo on the Tokyo subway in 1995, and the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States are a few examples of the fourth wave. For the first time in history, unconventional weapons, such as sarin gas and skyjacked aircraft were used against civilian targets [8].

Kaplan [9] has identified a fifth wave of terrorism known as ‘Tribalism’, that added to David Rapoport’s theory. He proposed that groups have: “turned inward rather than international, and manifest intense ethnic, racial, and tribal mysticism” (pp: 545). Charismatic leaders such as the late Osama Bin Laden, created a vision of a Utopian society, where the focus is primarily on women and children. Leaders proclaimed that a Utopian society would be replete with perfect men and women, making elders expendable; thereby creating an environment of pervasive violence and genocide. The radicalization of these groups has led to disillusion, and killing on a mass scale is encouraged to reach a glorious ending. Children are produced at an early age and rape is a signature tactic of the Khmer Rouge. Boko Haram (Nigeria), the Khmer Rouge (Cambodia) and the Armed Islamic Group (Northern Iraq) are examples the fifth wave of progenitors that turned away from an established terror wave [10].

Despite the long history of terrorism, the most contentious issue among modern day intellectuals is defining terrorism, and to date, no universal definition exists because the concept of terrorism is contested. “One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist” [11,12]. For non-supporters of the British Crown, the Irish Republican Army Provisional Division is viewed as a group of freedom fighters however, for supporters of the Crown, the IRA may be viewed as facilitators of terrorism, particularly to their target population. Defining terrorism also becomes difficult because there are many types of terrorism with different forms and manifestations; it is multidimensional, and involves actions initiated by multi-level organizations that attempt to bring about change through political, legal, secular, social, or economic systems [3].

Terrorist strategies have a significant impact on support for terrorism and the media plays a significant role in shaping the public’s perception of the terrorist event [13]. The 9/11 terror attacks are an example of terrorism aimed at a worldwide audience to achieve their goals, to arouse fear and recruit new members [14]. “Terrorism to be successful, depends on the media” [15] The media serves to provide terrorists with greater visibility so their organization will garner support, grow, and inflame terrorists to commit further acts of terrorism [16].

Little research exists for public support of moderate terrorism in developed and developing nations. Public support for terrorist acts can vary depending on the perceived severity of the terrorist act: from moderate terrorism by PETA; (harassment of persons working in medical research facilities); to extreme terrorism by Al Qaeda, such as (skyjacking suicides) [17]. Nations may reduce terrorism by controlling the over-consumption of material disseminated by the media to the public; which in turn shapes their perception and decision to support terrorism [18].

Literature Review

What drives persons to support terrorism has not been extensively investigated and there is a limited amount of empirical research that has been conducted in this field. Studies have been carried out on Islamic populations in Asian countries, the Middle East, and Africa; focusing on extreme forms of terrorism, such as suicide bombings. Researchers have concentrated on demographics and the psychological processes of terrorists to look at factors that would lead persons to support terrorism. The dilemma that researchers encounter is isolating the factors that influence the public’s support of terrorism because it is dynamic.

Specific intent to terrorize, intimidate, or coerce, and political motivation is not adequately reflected in existing criminal law. Since September of 2000, US investigations of persons committing terrorist acts have increased five-fold, from 142 persons, two years prior to the September 11th, 2001, terror attacks, to 748 persons two year later. In 2003, convictions increased 7 times the normal rate, from 24 to 184, of which 171 received minor sentences, 80, no prison sentences and 91, less than one year in prison. These are minor sentences for the most serious of crimes. 60% of US domestic terrorism cases were declined by US prosecutors (1048 cases), while an additional (506) antiterrorism cases were declined because of a lack of evidence of criminal intent, and insufficient evidence [19]. These domestic figures are a partial picture and give rise to the urgency of a legal international definition aimed at countering acts of terrorism, which features the purpose, acts, target, methods, and agent [20].

Defining terrorism can be morally problematic, creating competing definitions and public discourse. Schmidt [21] proposed that the concept of crime deviates markedly across time and cultural space, as do jurisdictional laws, and what is thought to be immoral. There are a number different legal issues in defining terrorism such as, what purpose does one need to be a terrorist, what acts count as terrorism, who is a target of the action, types of methods used by terrorists, and what qualifies one as a terrorist. If an international legal definition is not clearly defined, there is a potential for widespread avoidance and abuse of existing laws.

Reitan [22] wrote a stipulated public definition of terrorism, called the ‘group target definition’, where he used numerous paradigms to categorize acts of terrorism. This definition however, is too generalized, causing confusion between varying degrees of violent acts that overlap between criminal acts, terrorist acts, and acts of war. Reitan’s [22] definition states: “Terrorism is any act or pattern of violence such that (a) the primary or ultimate target is a group conceived of as a whole, (b) the immediate targets are members of the targeted group; (c) membership in the targeted group is regarded as sufficient to render one a legitimate target; (d) the violence against targeted group members is instrumental to producing some effect on the group conceived as a whole” (pp: 265). The entire definition can be applied to violent criminal acts, such as serial killers that target women as a group, which are not acts of terrorism. Although Reitan [22], did propose specifying subtypes or kinds of terrorism, it is not specific enough and undermines the value of the definition.

Pedahzur et al. [23], focused on building on Alex Schmidt’s arena model for defining terrorism. Schmidt et al. [24] divided their arena discussions of non-state terrorism into four different platforms: (1) the state’s laws, (2) judicial ruling and regulations; (3) public debate; and (4) repressive states that oppose developed societies. Categories 1 and 4 of Schmidt’s arenas overlap making a clear- cut definition impossible. Schmidt’s et al. [24] definition was cultivated when they sent out a questionnaire to 58 scholars, who produced 109 definitions of terrorism. Schmidt then ranked 22 definitional elements in the order of frequency from the survey instrument (violence, political, fear, threat etc.) and devised his definition of terrorism based on these elements.

Schmidt et al. [24], 22 elements taken from the 109 definitions were compared by Pedahzur’s et al. [23], 55 papers from which 73 definitions were extracted from three journals: ‘Terrorism’, ‘Terrorism and Political Violence’, and ‘Studies in Conflict and Terrorism’, dating from 1977-2001. Large differences existed between element 9 (‘extranormality, in break of accepted rules, without humanities constraints”); element 10 (“coercion, extortion, induction of compliance”); element 12 (“arbitrariness, impersonal, random character, indiscriminate”) where the frequencies were reported as: Schmidt versus Pedahzur [23,24]; element 9 (30%, 0%) element 10 (28%, 5.5%) and element 12 (21%, 0%) (pp: 781). There were elements in both Schmidt’s and Pedahzur’s studies that showed agreement; element 8 (tactic), element 4 (threat) element 1 (force/violence), element 2 (political); reported as follows (element 8: 30.5%, 31.5%; element 4, 47%, 41%, element 1; 83.5%, 71%, element 2; 65%, 60%). The results reported some agreement between Schmidt’s respondents and the journalism contributors, in the way terrorism is defined however, there were also significant differences [23].

Pedahzur et al. [23] found that the country of origin is important in the way that scholars differed in how they used key words in their survey. Middle Eastern participants never included the element ‘civilian’, however, Western Europeans and North American’s used the element ‘civilian’ 40% and 21% of the time in the definitional elements. The researchers of this study contend that Schmidt et al. [24] questionnaire was answered by scholars who were exposed to media reports during Rapoport’s third wave, where much attention was devoted to kidnappings, brainwashing, and the psychological components of the victims of kidnappings and hostage takings, thereby increasing the use of the words fear and terror, which were not as pervasive in Pedahzur et al. [23] research. The authors believe that their research extended over a longer time- period and their focus is less psychologically oriented than Schmidt’s research. There is no empirical evidence that exists to support Pedahzur’s et al. [23] claim, it is only speculative.

Both Schmidt et al. [24] and Pedahzur et al. [23] papers were methodologically weak because they employed mainly professionals, as opposed to including members of the general-public from developed and developing nations, producing a biased perspective. Secondly, participants in both studies were primarily Westerners, which does not account for cultural differences, religious/political views, and socioeconomic factors, which could affect the perception of the respondents answering the surveys.

“Terrorism is a politically motivated tactic involving the threat or use of force or violence in which the pursuit of publicity plays a significant role’; is the vague definition that was extracted from the journals [23]. Pedahzur et al. [23] acknowledge their definition of terrorism is too vague because it does not mention terror, noncombatant targets, tactics that are immoral or criminal in nature, motivation beyond a political focus, or differentials between violent crimes, war crimes and acts of terrorism. Hodgson et al. [20] state that a legal definition is next to impossible to write because terrorism laws vary extensively across jurisdictions, and there is a need for a moral definition that is compatible with a legal definition.

In countries where there is freedom of the press, terrorist organizations compete for media attention. Former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher stated that “publicity is the oxygen of terrorists” [25]. Media outlets produce a larger audience so terrorists can air their grievances which may be motivated by political freedom, foreign occupation, religion, social inequality, or ideological reasons [26]. A terrorist organization will engage in violence, such as skyjackings to attract publicity and media attention, to destabilize a country, and damage the economy; with a long- term goal of the redistribution of power, influence and wealth [27]. Terrorists benefit during the mayhem, through the mismanagement of the event, the scenes at the hospital, all via extensive free media coverage.

Psychological reactions to terrorist acts, such as threat, and anxiety, play a key role in how the public reacts to terrorism [28]. Terrorists are aware of the effectiveness of their campaign strategies and create a strong link between their methods and desired outcomes [4]. By following media reports of dramatic events, the public processes the information that helps them to understand why events occurred, who was responsible, and how it affects their lives. An experiment conducted by Walsh [29], exposed persons to media coverage of different terrorist actions. Levels of support were generally low however, if the media framed the terrorist acts with key words such as “brave” or “good,” public support increased, suggesting that how the media frames terrorist attacks has a significant influence on perception and the support of terrorism [29].

The media produces exaggerated accounts of terrorist events which influences public opinion and serves to legitimize terrorist acts; aids in the survival of terrorist groups; decreases the cost of funding attacks; garners support for the terrorist organization; increasing recruitment and motivating insurgents to commit further acts of terrorism [13]. The sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, by Aum Shinrikyo received 79 straight days of media attention on the television network Nihon Hoso Kyokai and was on the front page of the newspaper for 114 days straight. The media coverage sensationalized the cult, cult leader and terrorist event, and influenced the public, motivating viewers to become supporters of Aum Shinrikyo’s cause. Repeated exposure may cause viewers to identify with terrorists; known as the Stockholm effect [30].

Canter et al. [31], studied 49 high-profile terrorists by having them write about their life from early childhood. Narrative accounts provided the scholars with justification, efficacy, and meaning to the terrorist’s lives. A multi-dimensional analysis of Repertory grids had been used to generate visual representations of the terrorist’s personal construct systems; allowing for the exploration of changes in each terrorist’s conceptualization of himself in relation to his terrorist activities. A terrorists present set of circumstances does not produce a complete picture of their psychological processes, however by examining their past relationships with family and friends, a clearer picture of the influences in their decision-making processes are made clear.

Canter et al. [31] could have included a more detailed account of the terrorist’s personal constructs which may have allowed researchers a more in depth exploration of their motivation to support terrorist acts and their perception of themselves as a person and their role within the organization. An exploratory interview conducted outside of the prison, free of distraction would produce better results. This study highlights the importance of how researchers over-generalize the understanding of radicalization, the significance of how terrorists see themselves, and how their past relationships and experiences have influenced their decisions.

Moderate forms of terrorism are under researched however, are not any less important than extreme forms of terrorism because persons are willing to support various causes and commit acts of terrorism, which cost individuals, companies, and economies millions of dollars annually. Many people are incognizant of the fact that they are supporting various levels of terrorism.

Financial donations made to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and Greenpeace are examples of terrorist organizations that people choose to support. Under U.S. law, it is an offense to provide and collect funds for acts of terrorism (18 USC section 2339C), and to provide material support for terrorists (18USC section 2339B), or supply materials to designated terrorist organizations (18 USC section 2339B) [32]. Conducting studies on the public’s willingness to support different levels of terrorist acts, gives researchers insight into their motivation and risks they are willing to take. These insights may be used as opportunities to prevent persons from joining terrorist organizations via awareness campaigns.

Downes-LeGuin et al. [33], examined the relationship between public opinion and terrorism. The researchers of the study believe that public opinion plays an important role because without an audience, terrorists cannot manipulate the public, media, and government to facilitate the achievement of their political goals. The analysis for this study used data from a time when there was politically motivated international terrorist activity, targeting Americans overseas. A representative sample of Americans over 18, were contacted by phone. In the first survey, 1102 respondents were interviewed (1988) and 404 were re-interviewed six months later (in 1989); to test the stability of attitudes and to prove that external events may shift the participant’s attitudes.

The researchers reported that between the test and re-test of the subjects, there were no major terrorist events or media exposure to terrorist events. The researchers assumed that most changes on the follow up survey were not based on external events, when in fact external factors may have affected the study results. The researchers found in the retest, that the average stability of the two surveys was 57% and 4 of every 10 responses were changed. Questions about the justification for terrorism and possibility of control of media coverage were found to be stable factors in both surveys. The researchers suggested this is because repeated media exposure to terrorist groups breeds familiarity and have a symbolic meaning (i.e. Klu Klux Klan, Hamas) and the least stable responses were related to less familiar symbols aired only occasionally in the media.

The RAND surveys revealed that participants had little sympathy for terrorist organizations, but 49% supported terrorists and felt they were not common criminals whilst 46% felt that terrorists had legitimate complaints. The researchers speculated that support for terrorists were for religious or ethnic reasons; and could have added follow up questions for measuring strengths of centrality for the attitude questions that required further clarification, giving them more information about the reasons persons selected their answers in both the test and retest [33]. Clarification questions may eliminate errors by reducing the number of extraneous variables. The accuracy of the study’s outcome declines with increasing error, rendering the data invalid and unreliable [34]. A methodological weakness in measuring public opinion is it is exceedingly sensitive to external developments. For example, if an opinion poll is administered both before and after a major terrorist event, it may impact the opinions of participants. This study was limited because only the opinions of American’s were included however, it paved the way for future causal models linking terrorist acts, media framing, public perception and the support for terrorism.

The Pew Global Attitudes Project [35] examined concerns over public support for terrorism by comparing how Muslims and Westerners viewed one another. The researchers examined opinions about which religions are more prone to violence, concern about Islamic extremism, and support for terrorism. The study revealed there to be significant concern over Islamic extremism both in the West and in Islamic countries, however, support for suicide bombings and other terrorist acts had fallen sharply, which may be related to more favorable views of the United States by younger people in Islamic nations.

The Pew Global Attitudes data provides researchers with large data sets of public opinions that are nationally representative. All surveys are based on national samples; with the exceptions of China, India, Morocco, and Pakistan where persons were interviewed face-to-face and were exclusively from urban areas. There may be sampling errors and interviewer bias in the face-to-face interviews. The wording of the questions may also introduce error or bias into the opinion surveys. A threat to the representativeness of a sample occurs when procedures are used to select a sample where there is an over or underrepresentation of a segment of the population, and may result in skewed data. Reliability increases when participants are treated alike and validity can be affected by the methods employed during data gathering [34]. The analysis of how Western countries and Islamic nations view each another, can lead to greater understanding between Non-Muslims and Muslims; which may aid in the communication process; a more favorable view of different cultures and a decrease in terror attacks.

Maleckova et al. [13], conducted a study of 16 nations in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia; which examined public support for terrorism and the relationship with terrorist attacks. Data was extracted from the Pew Global Attitudes Project (2007) survey, which did not include complete data for all 16 nations, which may render the data samples unreliable and provide an incomplete picture of public support for terrorism in the 16 nations included in the study. The researchers used a negative binomial model to estimate the relationship between the justification of suicide attacks and negative opinions toward the targeted country and the occurrence of terrorism. The researchers suggested that a positive relationship existed between negative perceptions of the West, the justification for suicide bombings and the number of attacks originating in high terror active nations. The authors argue that large variations existed between countries and public opinion and that public opinion may be affected by the existence of activities of radical Islamic groups and their campaigns. Further studies could aid in the understanding of public opinion, including how Westerners and those in Islamic countries view one another and can fill a void in existing research, which may lead to a decrease in the number of attacks against Western countries. Maleckova et al. [13] research did not explore the conditions under which the justification for suicide increases or decreases and its relationship with the occurrence of terrorism.

Prior studies have indicated that poverty feeds terrorism, and that a strong causal relationship exists between the two [2,36]. In 2002, Colin Powell stated: “I fully believe that the root cause of terrorism does come from situations where there is poverty, where there is ignorance, where people see no hope in their lives” [37]. The income gap between developed and developing countries has increased from 53:1 in the 1960’s to 121:1 today. 1.2 billion persons live on less than a dollar a day and over 300 million live below the poverty line; making poverty both an economic and political issue [38]. In other words, persons of low economic status are desperate and have nothing to lose by participating in terrorist activities.

Contemporary research has provided conflicting evidence which does not support the theory that poverty is the root cause of terrorism. New factors, such as minority discrimination [39], and economic sanctions [40] are related to persons being more likely to participate in terrorism, as opposed to poverty. Choi et al. [39], found a significant relationship between economic discrimination against minority communities which may have increased hardships for the poor in terrorist-active nations, increasing grievances. Persons suffering economic inequality were found to be more likely to engage in terrorism than those who were economically well off [40]. Whilst Iraq was sanctioned in (1980-1982) and (1990-2002), there was an increase of 436% in terror attacks, and Iraqi’s were 93% more likely to participate in international terrorism because of sanctions [41].

Developed nations are more likely to be targets of terrorists from developing countries [42]. Meierrieks [43] conducted a study on 43 developing nations in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where there is income inequality, which exacerbates economic grievances among the urban poor, making city dwellers more prone to resort to terrorism compared to rural areas. The Global Terrorism Index was used to identify terrorist incidents and data on urban and rural poverty was taken from the World Bank, and other variables such as per capita income, religious tensions and economic growth, from the Country Risk Guide [44].

Meierrieks [43] found that more populous developing nations were more prone to terror attacks because of a larger pool of potential terrorists. The author also found that terrorism is related to poor socioeconomic conditions and social instability. Meierrieks [43] study used incomplete data on poverty so a longitudinal study or panel analysis was impossible to complete. It is difficult for researchers to obtain completed data from developing nations because it may simply not exist, or may be outdated. A more robust study could have included developed nations to compare differences between potential terrorist determinants, providing researchers with possible measures that may be used to counter terrorism.

Shafiqu et al. [45] hypothesized that higher educational attainment should discourage support for terrorist acts because educated persons are better able to make critical decisions. Data from six Islamic countries was used from the Pew Global Attitudes Project and the results suggested that those who were more highly educated were less likely to support suicide bombings in Indonesia and Pakistan. Conversely, Shafiqu et al. [45] data showed that a higher quality education encouraged support for suicide bombings in Jordan, and support for attacks against Westerner’s in Iraq. On the contrary, to reports by Shafiqu et al. [45] that a higher education should discourage persons from participating in terrorist attacks; Von Hippel [46], suggests that the nineteen suicide bombers involved in the September 11th, 2001, terror attacks were all well-educated and from middle or upper income families.

Kreuger [47], Maleckova et al. [48], concluded that both poverty and poor educational attainment are not important causes of support for terrorism or involvement in terrorist activity and went so far as to say that people who are attracted to terrorist organizations are the elite of society. Middle or upper class persons are better able to carry out international acts of terrorism because of their knowledge and access to funds [46]. Sixta [49] reported that 8.3% percent of suicide bombers possessed an elementary education and 12.8% have a university degree, indicating that acts of terrorism increased with a higher education. A more in depth and comprehensive international, up-todate research study is proposed because of the changing dynamics of each nation and the sensitivity of external factors.

This study aims to 'Compare Public Support for Moderate Terrorism and Extreme Terrorism' in high terror active nations (India, Iraq, Nigeria); medium terror active nations (China, United Kingdom, United States); and low terror active nations (Australia, Canada, South Korea); selected from The Global Terrorism Index [2]; and to explore the effects of increased level of threat (as-a-result-of increased terror activity), on support by the publics. To assess the reliability and validity of a new survey instrument; evaluate a group of exploratory questions; and to highlight the voids in terrorism research.

The null hypothesis: There will be no differences in public support for moderate and extreme terrorism in low, medium, and high terror active nations due to increased terror activity.

The alternative hypothesis: There will be differences in public support for moderate and extreme terrorism in low, medium, and high terror active nations due to increased terror activity.

For the purposes of this study, a new definition of moderate terrorism was devised because one that suited the researchers needs was not found: “Acts of terrorism that do not include life-threatening injury or death” (i.e. The picketing of an abortion clinic or stalking of medical research facility staff) and extreme terrorism is defined as: “The use of violence to provoke consciousness, to evoke certain feelings of sympathy and revulsion” (i.e. Suicide bombings or hijackings) [4].

Methods

Design

This study used a cross-sectional survey to investigate: ‘A Comparison of Public Support for Moderate and Extreme Terrorism’ in low, medium, and high terror active nations. The countries were selected from the Global Terrorism Index [2], which ranks countries on a scale of 0 to 10, according- to terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries, and property damage. The following countries were selected from the top of the Global Terrorism Index, Iraq (Index score 10), Nigeria (Index Score 8.58), India (Index Score 7.86); from the middle of the Global Terrorism Index, China (Index score 5.21), United Kingdom (Index score 5.17), United States (Index score 4.71); and from the lower section of the Global Terrorism Index, Canada (Index score 0.95), Australia (Index score 0.41), South Korea (Index score 0). The dependent variables are the levels of support for low, moderate, and extreme terrorism. The independent variables included gender, age, nationality, marital status, income, educational level, employment status, developed and developing nations. Frequencies and percentages were used for categorical data such as age, gender, nationality, income, and occupation. Separate ANOVA’s were performed to examine the main effect of the levels of support for terrorism.

Participants

English speaking participants from Iraq, Nigeria, India, China, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, South Korea, and Australia were invited to participate in the study. The size of the population was N=95, (38.30% women and 61.70% men). Snowball sampling was used to find participants that may be difficult to reach due to the sensitive nature of the terrorism study. Fewer participants may be willing to identify themselves as supporters of moderate and extreme terrorism and initial respondents may assist in identifying others that might like to take part in the survey because they share similar interests [50]. Participants were required to be over the age of 18, speak English, and be natural born citizens of one of the nine target countries.

Materials

An extensive number of research articles were reviewed and a proper survey instrument that suited the author’s research needs was not found. A new survey instrument was formulated with the adaptation of three other surveys, and a new group of questions designed to measure the publics support for moderate and extreme terrorism in low, medium, and high terror active nations. The three surveys used to form the survey proper did not contain any specific information about the reliability and validity of those particular survey instruments, however, all three surveys had been used and cited in other articles; The Pew Global Attitudes Project [35], ‘Support for Terror Wanes among Muslim Publics, Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics;’ consisted of 99 questions, and has been peer reviewed and cited by [51,52]. Second, Muslim Americans, ‘No Signs of Growth in Alienation or Support for Extremism’ [53], contained 100 questions, and has been cited by [54,55]. Third, RAND: ‘The Impact of Terrorism on Public Opinion, 1988-1989’ [33]), consisted of 100 questions and has been peer reviewed and cited by Koch et al. [56]; Cole et al. [57]. Published peer-reviewed articles that have been cited confirm the reliability and validity of the data in each of the surveys [34].

The survey proper was divided into three sections; (1) demographics on age, gender, nationality, occupation, education, income, religion, and marital status; (2) survey proper; (3) and a group of exploratory questions of added value. The data collected through the survey proper required participants to respond to the level of support for moderate and extreme acts of terrorism, based on a 4-point Likert scale (1=“justified” 2-“sometimes justified” 3- “rarely justified” 4- “never justified”). Other questions required a “yes” or “no” response; a level of “concern” response and a “reaction” or “no reaction response.

Procedure

Permission was granted from the University of Liverpool, Board of Ethics to proceed with the study. In -order- to offset under reporting, and to improve the accuracy of disclosure, a pilot test was conducted for a small group (N=9); three recruited from Nigeria (high terror active nation) three from the United States (medium terror active nation) and three from South Korea (low terror active nation). Respondents were asked to identify questions that they believed to be too sensitive in nature and at the end of the survey identify the question number(s). One participant felt that question 18 of the pilot test was too sensitive in nature and was removed from the survey proper. De Schrijver [58] reported that the more sensitive a question is, the greater the number of non-responses or dishonest responses. Questions were modified for the survey proper to factor in sensitivity.

The participants in the survey proper were sent an e-mail invitation with a link to www.surveymonkey.com and links were posted on the social networking sites, Facebook, InterNations, Google, University of Liverpool Online Programmes Communities, and LinkedIn. The first page of the survey proper included a formal letter of introduction, which contained the researcher’s details, program of study, and an invitation for English speaking participants, age 18 and older, from one of nine target countries. The sole language of English was selected because Weijter et al. [59] found that how categories are labelled in different languages on a Likert Scale, may introduce bias. For example, words that are more familiar can attract a greater number of responses. A clear explanation of the sensitivity, nature, and purpose of the research was outlined. Instructions on how to complete the survey and an example were provided. Potential participants were apprised of the length of time required to complete the survey and that there was no compensation or risks. Participants were advised of their right to withdraw from the study or to request to have their data removed at any time. Information about data storage and confidentiality were outlined. A debriefing statement was provided, along with the contact information of the student researcher, supervisor, and ethics committee, should the participant require any form of support.

The second page of the survey included informed consent regulations. The third page contained a statement of acknowledgement that participants had understood and given informed consent before proceeding. Pages 3 to 8 were questions on demographics; gender, nationality, employment status, relationship status, education, income, religion, and age. Pages 9-27 included questions about the anti-abortion movement, animal rights activists, freedom fighters, news organizations, Islam, terrorists, suicide bombers, environmentalists, oppressive regimes, and terrorist organizations. Participants were thanked for their honesty and advised that they may request a completed copy of the study by contacting the researcher.

Results

The aims of this study were to assess “A Comparison of Public Support for Moderate and Extreme Terrorism,’ in low, medium and high terror active nations; to explore the effects of increased levels of threat (as -a- result -of increased terror activity); identified by the Global Terrorism Index [2]; and to evaluate the reliability and validity of the questionnaire in measuring support for terrorism. The results are presented in four stages, starting with a demographic overview of the participants, results of reliability and validity of the survey instrument, then continue to the comparison of participants answers in relation to support for moderate and extreme terrorism. The fourth stage is presented in the discussion section, strengths and limitations, conclusion and recommendations.

Data analysis

An analysis of the psychometric data was performed to evaluate the reliability and validity of the survey proper in measuring support for terrorism. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to draw conclusions from the sample population tested. The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to code and tabulate scores collected from the survey and provide summarized values where applicable including the frequency and percentage of cases in each group.

Demographic data was processed using frequency statistics. An exploratory principal-components analysis was conducted on the questions related to support for terrorism and the validity and reliability of the ensuing sub-scales was examined. Finally, ANOVA’s were used to evaluate differences in support for terrorism based on whether respondents were from low, medium, and high terror nations. 95 persons completed the survey. Demographic features of the sample are as follows: 61.70% are male and 38.3% female, 46.32% were married, 31.58% single and 6.32% divorced. 76.84% of the respondents possessed a four-year university degree or a graduate degree and 23.16% had some high school or college. 66.3% of participants were employed, 12.63 self-employed and 7.37% were students. $25,000- $49,999 were earned by 26.60% of the respondents and 14.89% made $50,000 to $74,999. The ages of respondents were 18-24 (9.47%), 25-34 (32.63%) and 75 or older (1.05%). 17.89% of participants were from the United States, 17.89% from Canada and 5.26% from Iraq. 44.21% of persons were of no religion, 20% Christians, 7.37% Islamic. Table 1 shows the demographic characteristics of the participants.

Variable % of N Variable % of N
Gender Age
Female 37.9 18-24 9.47
Male 67.1 25-34 32.63
Relationship Status 35-44 25.26
Married 46.32 45-54 13.68
Divorced 6.32 55-64 12.36
Separated 2.11 65-74  5.26
Domestic partnership 2.11 75-100  1.05
Cohabiting 10.53 Employment Status  
Single 31.58 Employed, working full-time 66.3
Widowed 1.05 Employed, working part-time 5.26
Income Not employed, looking for work 2.11
$0-24,999 12.77 Self-employed 12.63
$25,000-$49,999 26.60 Retired 6.32
$50,000-$74,999 14.89   Student 7.37
$75,000-$99,999 14.89 Education
$100,000-$124,999  9.57 Some high school 1.05
$150,000-$174,999 4.26 High school diploma 5.26
$125,000-$149,999 7.45 Some college, no degree 8.42
$175,000-$199,999 4.26 2-year college degree   8.42
$200,000-and up 5.32 4-year college degree 27.37
Religion Graduate level degree 49.47
Protestantism  8.42 Country
Catholicism 16.84 Australia 9.47
Christianity 20.00 Canada 17.89
Judaism  2.11 China 4.21
Islam 7.37 Iraq 5.26
Buddhism 6.32 India 4.21
Hinduism 3.16 Nigeria 10.53
Native American 1.05 South Korea 14.77
Inter-denominational 3.16 United Kingdom 15.79
No religion 44.21 United States 17.89
Other 3.16    

Table 1: Demographic characteristics of the total sample (N=95).

Factor analysis

Factorial analysis was chosen to allow the researcher to identify latent constructs and the underlying factor structure of a set of variables. An exploratory- principal- components factor analysis with Kaiser normalization was performed on questions related to support for terrorism comprising a total 32 items (Table 2, for a list of all questions). Using data from 95 participants, principal components analysis was used for the initial factor extraction. Although there- were a total of eight factors with Eigenvalues greater than 1, upon inspection, it appeared that the four-factor solution yielded the most conceptually relevant sub-scales; therefore, a four-factor solution was selected, accounting for 25.9%, 11.3%, 9.7%, and 5.3% of the variance respectively. The total percent of variance explained by these four factors was 52.2%.

Item-Total Statistics
  Scale Mean if Item Deleted Scale Variance if Item Deleted Corrected Item-Total Correlation Squared Multiple Correlation Cronbach's Alpha if Item Deleted
Is the presence of the Greenpeace whaling ship, 'The Sea Shepherd' justified in the Southern Ocean to deter whalers? 38.2 197.077 0.274 0 0.882
Would you feel justified in financially supporting an animal rights group; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? 38.5684 190.503 0.441 0 0.879
Are the actions for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) justified in issuing threats to medical research facilities? 39.3579 184.871 0.616 0 0.874
Is an environmentalist justified in sabotaging a gas or oil pipeline to stop the flow of gas or oil that may be damaging to the environment? 39.3263 187.52 0.562 0 0.876
Is Greenpeace justified in using stink bombs to deter whalers from hunting? 38.7368 195.026 0.314 0 0.881
Is violence justified if it means that the lives of animals can be saved? 39.4842 189.018 0.571 0 0.876
Is Greenpeace justified in the use of propfoulers to stop whalers? 38.9474 186.391 0.6 0 0.875
Are environmentalists justified in placing blockades up to prevent logging? 38.8316 187.631 0.632 0 0.875
Is Greenpeace justified in spraying water cannons on whaling vessels to stop whalers? 38.6842 187.899 0.517 0 0.877
Is harassing women or preventing access to abortion clinics justified? 39.8105 189.921 0.591 0 0.876
Is the use of violence, such as arson, ever justified by environmentalists to make a political statement? 39.8632 190.375 0.647 0 0.876
Is Greenpeace justified in ramming a whaling vessel to prevent whaling? 39.3474 185.335 0.616 0 0.874
Is PETA justified in causing damage at medical research facilities to prevent animal experimentation? 39.5053 186.912 0.651 0 0.874
Are environmentalists justified in chaining themselves to trees to prevent logging? 38.7684 194.946 0.351 0 0.88
People who are called terrorists are seen as freedom fighters by others. Are they sometimes justified in what they do? 39.5368 196.549 0.304 0 0.881
Some people feel that government is justified in having more control over how news organizations report on terrorist incidents. 39.1789 193.808 0.354 0 0.88
Some governments have infringed on the civil liberties of their people to try to stop terrorism; for example, by wiretapping phones or holding people in prison without charging them with a crime. Would you say that it is justifiable? 39.0526 195.71 0.293 0 0.882
Participants exposed to stronger grievances are more likely to engage in both violent and peaceful protests and to believe that their actions were justified. 38.9895 193.287 0.375 0 0.88
Is the killing of known terrorists on foreign soil justified to prevent their committing future acts of terror? 38.3684 198.725 0.157 0 0.885
Some people believe that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Other persons believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is never justified. Do you 40.0737 194.133 0.515 0 0.878
Terrorists have legitimate grievances, and they sometimes have no other way of getting people to listen to them other than to use terrorist tactics. 39.2842 186.801 0.414 0 0.88
Are terrorists willing to die for their beliefs justified? 39.4947 193.231 0.374 0 0.88
Would one be justified in committing an act of terrorism to fight for their country's independence? 39.3789 192.451 0.457 0 0.878
Would terrorism be justified to topple an oppressive regime? 39.2421 193.547 0.358 0 0.88
Are you justified in physically supporting a radical cause, to counter obstacles that may infringe on the rights of others? 39.2211 189.366 0.515 0 0.877
How concerned are you with the rise of Islamic extremism in your country these days? 38.4842 196.657 0.219 0 0.883
I feel threatened by Islamic groups. 38.9789 198.021 0.174 0 0.884
How concerned are you with the rise of Islamic extremism in the WORLD today? 38.5158 201.614 0.054 0 0.887
Is picketing outside an abortion clinic justified as long as it does not interfere with the day to day operations of the clinic or patient access? 38.9789 198.872 0.138 0 0.885
Would you be justified in physically attending an anti-abortion protest? 39.2 196.268 0.205 0 0.884
Is placing a 'wanted poster' of an abortion doctor around your neighborhood justified? 39.8316 190.78 0.57 0 0.877

Table 2: Reliability of the total measure.

All four factors supported the hypothesized construct of ‘Support for Terrorism.’ Figure 1 shows the scree plot for the analysis; and from this graph it can be clearly seen that there are four factors above the ‘elbow,’ and that each of these four factors provides an acceptable through not high percent of variance contribution (52.2%) to the construct of “Support for Terrorism” at large. A scree plot runs from the top left to the bottom right, each factor explains less variance that the preceding factor. When a rapid decrease in values occurs, an elbow is created in the graph, and factors below the elbow will show little variance and those above the elbow will show substantially more variance [60].

forensic-psychology-Plot-Support-Terrorism

Figure 1: Scree Plot for Support for Terrorism.

A direct Oblimin rotation with Kaiser normalization was performed. It can be seen from the 'Pattern Matrix' for the most part, each item loads ‘moderately’ onto one factor, where every item in the analysis has a moderate to high loading factor and negligible or split loadings in the other factors. Thus, the factor analysis indicates that there are four distinct scales. Factor 1 was comprised of 14 items hypothesized to represent ‘Support for Animal and Environmental Rights,’ with loadings ranging from 0.52 to 0.83. Factor 2 was comprised of 11 items hypothesized to represent ‘Support for Violent Acts,’ with loadings ranging from 0.23 to 0.56. Factor 3 was comprised of 3 items hypothesized to represent ‘Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism,’ with loadings ranging from -0.79 to -0.80. Finally, Factor 4 was comprised of 4 items hypothesized to represent ‘Support for Anti- Abortion Actions,’ with loadings ranging from 0.32 to 0.75.

Reliability and validity

Internal consistency reliability of (1) the total measure (31 items) and (2) each of the four factors were examined using Cronbach’s alpha, which assesses the internal homogeneity of the items comprising a scale. High levels of Cronbach’s alpha indicate that the items of the scale are measuring a unitary construct. First, presented are the results for Cronbach’s alpha for the whole 31-item scale, which estimates reliability by assessing the inter-correlations among items. As can be seen from Table 2, the overall alpha is 0.883 with no added utility to delete any items. When an item is functioning poorly, the alpha coefficient with the item excluded will be markedly higher than the overall alpha. As is evident from Table 2, no single item is functioning poorly. Items that are not interrelated or show poor correlation should either be revised or discarded. Tables 3-6 gives the detailed reliability results for each of the four sub- scales. Alpha’s for ‘Support for Animal and Environmental Rights’ (0.888), ‘Support for Violent Acts ‘(0.728), ‘Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism’ (0.845), and ‘Support for Anti- Abortion Actions’ (0.663) were all at acceptable levels.

Item-Total Statistics
  Scale Mean if Item Deleted Scale Variance if Item Deleted Corrected Item-Total Correlation Squared Multiple Correlation Cronbach's Alpha if Item Deleted
Is the presence of the Greenpeace whaling ship, 'The Sea Shepherd' justified in the Southern Ocean to deter whalers? 16.2421 66.228 0.343 0.373 0.889
Would you feel justified in financially supporting an animal rights group; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals? 16.6105 62.602 0.482 0.351 0.884
Are the actions for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) justified in issuing threats to medical research facilities? 17.4 60.349 0.597 0.544 0.879
Is an environmentalist justified in sabotaging a gas or oil pipeline to stop the flow of gas or oil that may be damaging to the environment? 17.3684 61.725 0.553 0.416 0.881
Is Greenpeace justified in using stink bombs to deter whalers from hunting? 16.7789 64.11 0.436 0.391 0.886
Is violence justified if it means that the lives of animals can be saved? 17.5263 62.826 0.547 0.429 0.881
Is Greenpeace justified in the use of propfoulers to stop whalers? 16.9895 58.904 0.74 0.652 0.871
Are environmentalists justified in placing blockades up to prevent logging? 16.8737 60.941 0.691 0.6 0.875
Is Greenpeace justified in spraying water cannons on whaling vessels to stop whalers? 16.7263 59.626 0.655 0.665 0.876
Is the use of violence, such as arson, ever justified by environmentalists to make a political statement? 17.9053 64.321 0.561 0.565 0.881
Is Greenpeace justified in ramming a whaling vessel to prevent whaling? 17.3895 58.347 0.749 0.643 0.871
Is PETA justified in causing damage at medical research facilities to prevent animal experimentation? 17.5474 60.378 0.722 0.657 0.873
Are environmentalists justified in chaining themselves to trees to prevent logging? 16.8105 64.879 0.427 0.315 0.886

Table 3: Item statistics for support for animal and environmental rights sub-scale.

Item-Total Statistics
  Scale Mean if Item Deleted Scale Variance if Item Deleted Corrected Item-Total Correlation Squared Multiple Correlation Cronbach's Alpha if Item Deleted
People who are called terrorists are seen as freedom fighters by others. Are they sometimes justified in what they do? 11.9263 25.473 0.484 0.405 0.696
Some people feel that government is justified in having more control over how news organizations report on terrorist incidents. 11.5684 26.503 0.273 0.209 0.723
Some governments have infringed on the civil liberties of their people to try to stop terrorism; for example, by wiretapping phones or holding people in prison without charging them with a crime. Would you say that it is justifiable? 11.4421 26.973 0.236 0.21 0.727
Participants exposed to stronger grievances are more likely to engage in both violent and peaceful protests and to believe that their actions were justified. 11.3789 25.344 0.4 0.368 0.705
Is the killing of known terrorists on foreign soil justified to prevent their committing future acts of terror? 10.7579 28.866 0.022 0.197 0.758
Some people believe that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies. Other persons believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is never justified.     12.4632 26.422 0.472 0.388 0.702
Terrorists have legitimate grievances, and they sometimes have no other way of getting people to listen to them other than to use terrorist tactics. 11.6737 22.18 0.47 0.352 0.695
Are terrorists willing to die for their beliefs justified? 11.8842 25.274 0.404 0.274 0.705
Would one be justified in committing an act of terrorism to fight for their country’s independence? 11.7684 25.095 0.493 0.485 0.694
Would terrorism be justified to topple an oppressive regime? 11.6316 24.533 0.482 0.497 0.693
Are you justified in physically supporting a radical cause, to counter obstacles that may infringe on the rights of others? 11.6105 24.325 0.501 0.417 0.69

Table 4: Item statistics for support for violent acts sub-scale.

Item-Total Statistics
  Scale Mean if Item Deleted Scale Variance if Item Deleted Corrected Item-Total Correlation Squared Multiple Correlation Cronbach's Alpha if Item Deleted
How concerned are you with the rise of Islamic extremism in your country these days? 3.3474 3.208 0.766 0.61 0.729
I feel threatened by Islamic groups. 3.8421 3.602 0.636 0.406 0.856
How concerned are you with the rise of Islamic extremism in the WORLD today? 3.3789 3.451 0.737 0.582 0.76

Table 5: Item statistics for concerned/threatened by terrorism sub-scale.

Item-Total Statistics
  Scale Mean if Item Deleted Scale Variance if Item Deleted Corrected Item-Total Correlation Squared Multiple Correlation Cronbach's Alpha if Item Deleted
Is picketing outside an abortion clinic justified as- long- as it does not interfere with the day to day operations of the clinic or patient access? 2.4211 4.778 0.342 0.214 0.672
Would you be justified in physically attending an anti-abortion protest? 2.6421 3.892 0.508 0.299 0.553
Is harassing women or preventing access to abortion clinics justified? 3.2526 5.021 0.477 0.459 0.582
Is placing a 'wanted poster' of an abortion doctor around your neighborhood justified? 3.2737 5.031 0.499 0.42 0.573

Table 6: Item statistics for support for anti-abortion actions sub-scale.

Convergent validity for each sub-scale was assessed by correlating each of the four terrorism subscales with the total 32 item ‘Support for Terrorism Scale.’ The correlations for three out of four subscales were high, ranging from 0.568 to 0.897 (p<0.001). The correlation between the total measure and ‘Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism’ however, was low but still significant (r<0.251, p=0.14). Table 7 shows the correlations between the sub-scales and the total measure.

Measure Pearson Correlation
Animal and Environmental Rights 0.897**
Support for Violent Acts 0.816**
Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism 0.251*
Anti-Abortion Actions 0.568**

Table 7: Correlations between Support for terrorism total measure and each of four sub-scales.

Quantitative analysis

Four separate one-way between subject ANOVA’s were conducted to compare the effects of ‘Country Terrorism Score’ (low, medium, high) on public support for terrorism, as operationalized by four different subscales: 1) Support for Animal and Environmental Rights; 2) Support for Violent Acts; 3) Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism; and 4) Support for Anti-Abortion Actions. The one-way ANOVA is most suitable for this analysis because there is one factor (support for terrorism) with four levels (Support for Animal and Environmental Rights, Support for Violent Acts, Concerned/ Threatened by Terrorism, and Support for Anti-Abortion Actions). Effects were non-significant for three out of four analyses. There was a non-significant effect for country terrorism score on Support for Animal and Environmental Rights [F (2,94) =1.72, p=0.184] and Support for Violent Acts [F 92,94)=0.265, p=0.768], a marginally significant effect on Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism [F (2.94)=7.61, p=0.001]. Tables 8-11 show the results of the ANOVA tests. The reason the effects were non-significant was because a minimum of 159 participants was required to show the effects of the analysis and 95 participants responded to the survey.

Source df SS MS F p Partial Eta Squared
Between groups 2 1.24 0.62 1.724 0.184 0.036
Within groups 92 33.065 0.359      
Total 95 199.531        

Table 8: One-Way Analysis of Variance of Support for Animal and Environmental Rights by Country Terrorism Index.

Source df SS MS F p Partial Eta Squared
Between groups 2 0.134 0.067 0.265 0.768 0.006
Within groups 92 23.243 0.253
Total 94 23.377

Table 9: One-way analysis of variance of support for violent acts by country terrorism index.

Source df SS MS F p Partial Eta Squared
Between groups 2 10.588 5.294 7.61 0.001 0.142
Within groups 92 64.003 0.696
Total 94 74.592

Table 10: One-way analysis of variance of concerned/threatened by terrorism by country terrorism index.

Source df SS MS F p Partial Eta Squared
Between groups 2 2.405 1.202 2.663 0.075 0.055
Within groups 92 41.547 0.452      
Total 94 43.951        

Table 11: One-way analysis of variance of support for anti-abortion actions by country terrorism index.

Finally, post hoc comparisons using a Bonferroni adjustment were performed on the significant results, ‘Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism.’ Results indicated that scores for ‘Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism’ were significantly higher in high terror nations (M=2.42, SD=0.191) than were those in both low and medium terror countries (M=1.54. SD=0.132, M=1.66. SD=.139). Results can be seen in Tables 12 and 13.

Country Group Mean Std. Error 95% Confidence Interval
      Lower Bound Upper Bound
Low Terror 1.542 0.132 1.28 1.804
Medium Terror 1.657 0.139 1.381 1.934
High Terror 2.421 0.191 2.041 2.801

Table 12: Descriptive statistics of concerned/threatened by terrorism by country terrorism index.

Country Country Mean Difference Standard Error Sig. 95% Confidence Interval
Lower Bound Upper Bound
Low Terror Medium Terror -0.1157 0.19162 1 -0.583 0.3515
High terror -.8794* 0.2324 0.001 -1.4461 -0.3127
Medium Terror Low Terror 0.1157 0.19162 1 -0.3515 0.583
High terror -.7636* 0.23652 0.005 -1.3404 -0.1869
High terror Low Terror .8794* 0.2324 0.001 0.3127 1.4461
Medium Terror .7636* 0.23652 0.005 0.1869 1.3404

Table 13: Post-hoc comparison of concerned/threatened by terrorism by country terrorism index.

A regression ANOVA of between subject effects was performed on each of the four scales from the factorial analysis with developed countries. This technique allows researchers to make predictions about scores on one variable based on the knowledge of the values of the others and provides information about the levels of variability within a regression model providing the basis for tests of significance. The first two subscales did not yield significant results: ‘Support for ‘Animal and Environmental Rights/Developed Nations’ (M=2.20, 1.6 p=0.046), ‘Violence Developed Nations’ (M=1.198, 1.154 p=0.717) and the following two variables yielded significant results ‘Concerned/ Developed’ (M=2.2, 1.6, p=0.006) and ‘Anti-abortion/ Developed’ (M=1.272.0.868, p=0.013.

Gender was not significantly related to the outcome variables when initially placed into the ANOVA's that included low, medium, and high active terror countries from the Global Terrorism Index. When the researcher looked at the separate effects of some demographic variables on the outcome variables, it was found that gender was significantly related to support for the subscale 'Animal and Environmental Rights' [F=0.193, p=0.08] in a regression analysis; thus men were more likely to support the factor 'Animal and Environmental Rights' causes than women. In addition, there was marginal significance with men being more likely to feel concerned with the subscale 'Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism' than women [F=0.19, p=0.071].

Looking at the effects of developed versus developing nations, it was found that developing countries have significant scores on the 'Concerned/Threatened by Terrorism variable [M-2.2, 1.6, p=0.006]. A similar result was found for support for 'Anti-abortion Actions' in developing countries [M=1.272.0.868, p=0.013]. Persons from high terror nations (developing nations) were exposed to more terror attacks during the time of the survey which may account for higher levels on the 'Concern/Threatened by Terrorism subscale. Developing nations may also have scored higher on the 'Anti-abortion Actions' subscale because of different religious, cultural, or ethical values.

Discussion

This pioneering research sheds light on the deficiencies in previous studies and highlights the numerous voids in terrorism research; thereby giving prominence to the possibility of new opportunities for counter terrorism strategies. A new framework was created to compare public support for moderate and extreme terrorism because little empirical evidence existed; setting the foundation for further exploration by researchers. The new survey instrument was tested and has a high degree of reliability and validity. A contemporary definition of moderate forms of terrorism was conceived because an existing definition was not found in any of the literature. This study has illustrated the lack of public knowledge about which institutions are terrorist organizations; how their donations are being utilized, and that persons are often incognizant of their roles within terrorist organizations.

The definition of moderate terrorism formulated for research purposes is very simplistic: "acts of terrorism that do not include lifethreatening injury or death." An existing definition of extreme terrorism was employed: "the use of violence to provoke consciousness, to evoke certain feelings of sympathy and revulsion" [4]. These two definitions fit well into the research topic allowing the scientist to divide the study into two paradigms; 'moderate' and 'extreme' which allowed for the clarification of 'moderate acts' versus 'extreme acts of terrorism.' Despite numerous attempts to define terrorism by specialists Schmidt [7], Pedhazur et al. [23], Hodgson et al. [20]; a universally acceptable legal definition has eschewed experts and appears to be an impossibility. By dividing acts of terrorism into categories, it may be possible to establish a legal definition that includes the act, target, method, and agent.

There was a lack of statistical power for the study: "A Comparison of Public Support for Moderate and Extreme Terrorism" across low, medium, and high terror active nations with -the- exception- of the "Concerned Threatened by Terrorism" subscale. The null hypothesis cannot be rejected and the alternative hypothesis accepted. A false Type II error occurred due to the lack of statistical power. If there had been a larger sample size, the power of the test would have been greater and there would have been more accurate estimates of the population values [34]. An interesting pattern emerged from this study, which provides insight into the public's support for different acts of terrorism. In general, larger percentages of- participants showed greater support for less violent forms of terrorism. 47.16 percent of the respondents felt that the presence of the Greenpeace whaling ship; 'The Sea Shepherd' was justified in the Southern Ocean to deter whalers (moderate terrorism); whereas only 2.11 percent of participants felt that suicide bombings against civilian targets were justifiable (extreme terrorism). One exception to this pattern emerged and 41.05 percent of respondents felt that the killing of known terrorists on foreign soil was justified to prevent their committing future act of terror. Please refer to Tables 14-17 to compare support for moderate and extreme terrorism, classified under the four sub-scales. Each Sub-Scales shows the percentage of the public’s justification for terrorist acts on the 31- item scale.

Item-Total Statistics
  Percentages
Q10 Is the presence of the Greenpeace whaling ship, ‘The Sea Shepherd’
Justified in the Southern Ocean to deter whalers?
43.16                
Q11 Would you feel justified in financially supporting an animal rights
group; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?
34.74          
Q14 Are the actions for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
justified in issuing threats to medical research facilities?
14.74          
Q16 Is an environmentalist justified in sabotaging a gas or oil pipeline to stop the flow of gas or oil that may be damaging to the environment? 10.53
Q17 Is Greenpeace justified in using stink bombs to deter whalers from
hunting?
24.21
Q19 Is violence justified if it means that the lives of animals can be saved? 7.37
Q25 Is Greenpeace justified in the use of prop-foulers to stop whalers?
A Comparison of Public Support for Moderate and Extreme Terrorism Page 33.
20.00       
Q29 Are environmentalists justified in placing blockades up to prevent
logging?
14.74
Q30 Is Greenpeace justified in spraying water cannons on whaling vessels
to stop whalers?
29.47
Q39 Is the use of violence, such as arson, ever justified by environmentalists?    1.05
Q40 Is Greenpeace justified in ramming a whaling vessel to prevent whaling?     14.74
Q42 Is PETA justified in causing damage at medical research facilities to
prevent animal experimentation?  
6.32
Q44 Are environmentalists justified in chaining themselves to trees to prevent logging? 17.89

Table 14: Item statistics: percentage of public support for animal and environmental rights sub-scale-moderate terrorism.

Item Total Statistics
  Percentages
Q12 People who are called terrorists are seen- as freedom fighters by others.
are they sometimes justified in what they do?
1.05
Q15 Some people feel that government is justified in having more control
over how news organizations report on terrorist incidents.
8.42
Q20 Some governments have infringed on the civil liberties of their people to
try to stop terrorism; for example, by wiretapping phones or holding people in prison without charging them with a crime. Would you say that it is justifiable?
10.53
Q23 Participants exposed to stronger grievances are more likely to engage in both violent and peaceful protests and to believe that their actions were justified. 12.63
Q24 Is the killing of known terrorists on foreign soil justified to prevent their
committing future acts of terror?                 
41.05
Q26 Some people believe that suicide bombings and other forms of violence
against civilian targets are justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies.
other persons believe that, no matter what the reason, this kind of violence is
justified.                       
2.11
Q35 Terrorists have legitimate grievance, and they sometimes have no other
way of getting people to listen to them other than to use terrorist tactics.
2.11
Q37 Are terrorists willing to die for their beliefs justified?           8.47
Q38 Would one be justified in committing an act of terrorism to fight for their country’s independence?                     3.16
Q43 Would terrorism be justified to topple an oppressive regime? 8.42
Q47 Are you justified in physically supporting a radical cause, to counter
obstacles that may infringe on the rights of others?
10.53
Note: Members of the public show less support extreme terrorism than moderate terrorism.

Table 15: Item statistics: percentages of support for violent acts sub-scale-extreme terrorism-extreme terrorism.

Item-Total Statistics
  Percentages
Q27 How concerned are you with the rise of Islamic extremism in your
country these days?                    
40.00
Q34 I feel threatened by Islamic groups. 18.95              
Q41 How concerned are you with the rise of Islamic extremism in the WORLD? 37.89                      
Note: The public feels very concerned and threatened by the rise of Islamic Extremism.  

Table 16: Item statistics: percentages of the concerned/threatened by terrorism sub-scale-extreme terrorism.

Item Total Statistics
  Percentages
Q13 Is picketing outside an abortion clinic justified as- long- as it does not interfere with the day to day operations of the clinic or patient access. 18.95
Q21 Would you be justified in physical attending an anti-abortion protest? 18.95
Q31 Is harassing women or preventing access to abortion clinics justified? 3.16
Q33 Is placing a wanted poster of an abortion doctor around your neighborhood justified? 3.16

Table 17: Item statistics: percentages of Public Support for Anti-Abortion Actions Sub-Scale-Moderate Terrorism.

Exploratory Questions: Discussion Continued

• Do you feel that the coverage of Islam by news organizations increases or decreases the support for terrorism?

• Do you feel threatened by Islamic groups?

• In your country have there been so many reports of terrorism in the media that you

• no longer have much of a reaction when one occurs?

• Is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) a terrorist organization?

• Do you believe Greenpeace to be a terrorist organization?

• Do you believe that people who donate money to organizations such as PETA and Greenpeace are aware of how their money is being used?

Do you believe that persons who join organizations such as PETA, Greenpeace, Al Shabaab, and Hamas have a complete awareness of their role within their organization? 67.37% of respondents felt that coverage of Islam by news organizations increased support for terrorism and 32.63% felt that it decreased support. The media is a powerful institution that uses symbols, imagery. Language, and cartoon caricatures to create subjective perceptions of Islam. The September 11, 2011 terror attacks led to repeated media reports on a mass scale, which stigmatized Islam, and contributed to negative stereotypes by repeatedly airing images of Islamic extremists as terrorists [61]. 48.42 of participants felt threatened by Islamic groups whilst 51.58% did not. Piazza [40] found that Islamist groups are no more likely than non-Islamist groups to commit high casualty attacks, the exception being Al-Qaeda. Sides et al. [62]propose that post 911, Americans stereotyped Muslims as violent and untrustworthy. The perception the media presents has consequences and can facilitate the recruitment of supporters of terrorism. 14.74% of participants reported they had 'no reaction; at all to media reports of terrorist act. Repeated exposure to media reports may lead to desensitization, or alter individual psychological processes, including identifying or sympathizing with terrorist causes [63].

Terrorist groups need money to carry out their objectives because they incur both organizational and operational cost. Participants in this study were asked: whether they were cognizant that both Greenpeace and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) are terrorist organizations. The results show that 90.53% of respondents were unaware that Greenpeace is a terrorist organization and 78.95% for PETA. By presenting themselves as charities, terrorist organizations exploit vulnerable donors and use their institutions to carry out terrorist activities to reach their goals. Additionally, 78.95% of participants believe that persons are unaware of how their donations are being used by charities. Charities should be required to follow best practices, to be transparent, and publicly disclose financial records as a potential counter terrorism strategy [32]. Governments could keep the public informed through educational campaigns to increase awareness about which organizations have been designated as "terrorist' so they may make informed choices about donations or other forms of support.

73.68% of participants believed that most persons who join terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Al-Shabaab, Greenpeace, or ISIS, were incognizant of their role within that organization. Canter et al. [31], reported that a terrorist they interviewed was unaware he was a bomb carrier. He was instructed to drive a car and park it in a busy market, he exited the vehicle and it detonate, killing dozens. Whether a person joins an organization that is engaged in either moderate or extreme forms of terrorism, the onus is placed upon the individual joining the organization to be cognizant of their role within that organization. Public education about terrorist strategies and recruitment methods could be used to inform the public and prevent persons from joining terrorist organizations.

There is conflicting research about whether education impacts a terrorist’s decision to participate in terrorism. Von Hippel [46]; Berrebi [64] theorized that well-educated persons were more likely to show interest in political grievances, political events and may be willing to participate in political events that lead to terrorist activities. On the contrary, the present terrorism study found the opposite to be true. In fact, 49.47% of participants possess a graduate degree, 27.37% a four-year university degree and 22.66% some high school or college. A clear pattern emerges Tables 14-17 illustrates that educated persons support moderate forms of terrorism as opposed to extreme forms of terrorism.

Strengths and Limitations

This study reveals the complexity of terrorism research by highlighting the numerous voids in preceding studies. It has been theorized that historically, terrorism came and went in waves, ending once political objectives were achieved. Scientists now face a greater challenge because terrorism has become more complex. The objectives of terrorist organizations are ever- changing both across time and space; with many competing agendas that are no longer simply political in nature. Careful examination of the gaps in research provides academics with greater strength because it creates an awareness upon which scientists can build a better framework for pragmatic research.

A new survey instrument was developed which provided the publics an opportunity to express their opinions and knowledge on terrorism. The survey instrument proved to be both reliable and valid (Table 2: ‘Reliability of the Total Measure’). Convergent validity was used to determine how closely one measure was associated with the other measures by correlating each of the 4 subscales with the total 32 item (‘Support for Terrorism Scale’ in Table 7); all scales showed significant correlation. This survey instrument produced original data that was not outdated which provided a glimpse at differences in support for terrorism and the effects of different threat levels.

The size of the population is unknown and the author is using the snowballing effect to find participants that may be difficult to reach due to the sensitivity of the study. Because of the sensitive nature of the study, fewer respondents may be willing to identify themselves as supporters of moderate and extreme terrorism. The researcher will request that the initial respondents who agree to participate in the survey to assist in identifying others that might like to take part in the survey. Through referrals, persons may help break down barriers that would have otherwise stopped individuals from participating in the survey [50]. Snowball sampling may produce a skewed demographic sample of the population. For example, persons who are economically well off have a higher education and a better understanding of the risks involved in research participation, whereas persons from developing nations (India, Iraq, Nigeria) may face economic barriers such as access to education and as a result do not understand the risks involved in research participation and choose not to take part. The surveys answered may include a greater number of educated persons as opposed to a random sample of the population.

Low statistical power because of the modest sample size in the present study (N=95) may have played a role in limiting the significance of some of the statistical comparisons conducted. An a priori power analysis using G power software revealed that in- orderto achieve 80% power with a moderate effect size (0.25) and 3 groups, the study needed a sample size of N=159. The expectation was that this sample size would be achieved; however, finding participants willing to fill out the survey turned out to be more difficult than expected. Post hoc observed power revealed that there was not enough power for three out of four outcome variables 'Support for Animal and Environmental Rights', 33%; 'Support for Violence,' 9%; 'Support for Anti-Abortion Acts,' 52%). The remaining variable, ''Concern/ Threatened by Terrorism,' exhibited a relatively high observed power of 92%, and indeed, this was the one outcome variable for which the three groups showed significant differences.

Personal characteristics, such as a researcher's nationality or gender, may affect the researcher's credibility and give rise to generalizations and stereotypes in cross-cultural research. Cheng [65] proposed that when developing nations are included in cross-cultural research, cultural differences and mistrust may leave participants unwilling to discuss sensitive subject matter, such as terrorism. A researcher's lack of cultural knowledge may ignite hostile feedback, discouraging participants from taking part in a survey. Cheng [65] states that when a researcher is referred to participants by persons who are credible, the respondents are more likely to establish a rapport with the researcher and answer questions more openly and honestly. Participants from high terror active nations may also be affected by different elements compared to persons from medium or low terror countries, leading the respondents to choose what is expected of them morally.

External factors (confounding variables) may have played a role in the lack of responses, particularly in high terror active nations. One male respondent stated that he could not reply to the survey because he is from a region in his country where high levels of terrorism exist. Persons may feel intimidated to conform to societal norms and remain silent or suffer the repercussions. "Ethics requires judgments. A given behavior is not in itself unethical. It can however, be judged as conforming or nonconforming to ethics [66]. Very complex factors vary across time, space, culture, and change with situational factors and personal psychological factors, all which contribute to the final judgment of conformity [66]. One of the objectives of terrorist organizations is to cause widespread [4] and terrorist organizations were active during the timeline of the survey (July, 11, 2015 to September 11, 2015) in Iraq, India, and Nigeria (high terror nations). Nigeria, 200 killed, July 7th, 2015 by Haram [67]; India, 10 killed, July 27th, 2015, by unknown terrorists [68]; and Iraq, July 17th, 2015, ISIS killed over 100 persons [69]. External factors, such as terrorist activity, the oppression of women, mistrust, psychological stress, media accounts, and fear may all have played a part in the number of responses received and the choice of responses; which may not reflect the participant's true feelings.

Directions for the future

Further research could include a larger number of participants from low, medium, and high terror active countries, based on the Global Terrorism Index [2]; who support moderate and extreme forms of terrorism. A re-interview of respondents may be used to examine the stability of attitudes over time and provide exploration of external factors which may affect any possible differences in the retest. An expanded international survey instrument could be created to elaborate more on terrorist acts and paradigms. A threat level could be assigned to each paradigm, (1-5) with 1 being the lowest 5 being the highest. Respondents could be asked to place different acts into one of the 5 paradigms and a comparison made between low, medium, and high terror active nations, to see what differences exist. The present survey explored whether- or -not acts of terrorism are justified. An expanded survey could include questions that ask respondents if they are willing to risk participating in each of the acts placed into the paradigms. Researchers may examine the risks that respondents are willing to take and the effects of the threat in low, medium, and high terror nations. The risks that respondents are willing to take may give insight into their motivation and support for terrorism. The paradigms could be used to create an international definition that will address each of the specific acts and prevent avoidance of existing laws.

Conclusion and Recommendation

A person’s individual choice to support a terrorist group’s actions depend largely on personal and situational factors; as well as perception. The media plays a significant role in influencing public perception and support for terrorism through methods used to frame terrorist events. Greater visibility leads to support and growth of the terrorist organization. Greenpeace and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals produce ad campaigns that serve to inflame people to commit acts of terrorism in the name of protecting animals [70]. Are these organizations truly terrorist organizations and are all people who support them terrorists? Although the FBI states the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is a terrorist organization as is Greenpeace; can they be viewed in the same way as the Islamic State of Iraq or Boko Haram?

Governments around the world spend a lot of money on counter terrorism strategies. By dividing moderate and extreme terrorism into paradigms, governments can focus on anti-terrorism strategies that address the specific types of terrorism. It was evident from the results of this study’s research that large numbers of the public lack knowledge about terrorism. Public education campaigns addressing lesser forms of terrorism may be an effective counter terrorism strategy and more cost efficient; freeing up funds for extreme anti-terrorism measures. Public education may also prevent persons from joining terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State of Iraq.

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