Prepare a PowerPoint presentation, with speaker notes, that compares terrorist behavior to criminal behavior.

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Assignment Question

Hamas shifts from rockets to culture war [foreign desk]. The New York Times. Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica. Marighella, Carlos. (1969). Mini Manual of the Urban Guerilla. Pattern Books. Retrieved from Causes and Motivations of Known Terrorist Organizations Based on the readings as well as your independent research, prepare a PowerPoint presentation, with speaker notes, that compares terrorist behavior to criminal behavior. Your assignment should address the following: Focus on the differences in motivation, ideology and culture, and human expression behind the terrorist, as well as the ordinary criminal. How do the motivations differ between terrorist behavior and criminal behavior? How is the ideology different? How does culture and human expression (art, customs, religion, social habits, etc.) impact terrorist behavior versus criminal behavior? What motivates the terrorist and/or terrorist organization? Identify at least three causes and motivations of terrorists. Demonstrate three causes and motivations of terrorism by relating them to specific organizations and acts. Explain the differences between religious and political terrorism.

Assignment Answer

Hamas: From Rockets to Culture War – An Exploration of Motivations and Ideologies in Terrorism


Terrorism is a multifaceted and complex phenomenon that has plagued the world for decades. Understanding the motivations, ideologies, and cultural factors behind terrorism is essential for developing effective counterterrorism strategies. This essay will delve into the causes and motivations of terrorist organizations, with a particular focus on Hamas, a Palestinian group that has undergone a notable shift from using rockets to waging a culture war. By comparing terrorist behavior to criminal behavior, we can gain insights into the fundamental differences in motivation, ideology, and culture that drive these two distinct forms of violence.

Motivations Behind Terrorism

  1. Political Motivations

One of the primary motivations behind terrorism is political in nature. Terrorist organizations often seek to advance their political agendas through acts of violence and intimidation. In the case of Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, the political motivation is rooted in the desire for Palestinian self-determination and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Hamas emerged as a response to the perceived failure of diplomatic efforts to address the Palestinian issue, and its primary goal is to resist Israeli occupation and achieve Palestinian statehood (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

This political motivation sets Hamas apart from ordinary criminals who are driven by personal gain or opportunistic reasons. While criminals may engage in illegal activities for financial gain, terrorists like Hamas members are motivated by a deeply held political ideology and a sense of collective identity tied to their cause.

  1. Religious Motivations

Religious ideologies often play a significant role in motivating terrorist organizations. Religious terrorism is characterized by acts of violence committed in the name of a particular faith or belief system. One of the key differences between religious terrorists and ordinary criminals is the sanctity and righteousness they attach to their actions.

Hamas, for instance, is known for its Islamist ideology, which blends religious and political motivations. The group draws upon Islamic teachings to justify its struggle against Israel and frames its actions as a religious duty. This religious motivation sets Hamas apart from criminal organizations whose actions are typically devoid of religious or ideological justifications (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

  1. Ideological Motivations

Terrorist organizations often adhere to specific ideologies that drive their actions. These ideologies can be rooted in nationalism, separatism, or other political beliefs. In the case of Hamas, its ideology is a blend of Palestinian nationalism and Islamist principles. The organization’s Charter, written in 1988, outlines its commitment to liberating all of historical Palestine and establishing an Islamic state in the region (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

This ideological motivation is distinct from the motivations of ordinary criminals, who typically lack a coherent and well-defined ideology driving their actions. Criminals may commit illegal acts for personal gain or as a result of individual circumstances, but they do not share the ideological commitment that characterizes terrorist organizations like Hamas.

Impact of Culture and Human Expression on Terrorism

Culture and human expression, including art, customs, religion, and social habits, play a significant role in shaping the behavior of both terrorists and criminals. However, the impact of these factors differs between the two groups.

  1. Culture and Human Expression in Terrorism

Terrorist organizations often use culture and human expression as tools to advance their agendas and recruit new members. In the case of Hamas, the group has employed various cultural and religious symbols to garner support and legitimize its actions. Hamas’s use of Islamic imagery and its framing of the conflict with Israel in religious terms resonate with many Palestinians who view the struggle as a sacred duty (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

Art and media also play a role in the culture of terrorism. Terrorist organizations may produce propaganda materials, such as videos, posters, and songs, to promote their cause and recruit sympathizers. These materials often depict heroic narratives of struggle and martyrdom, appealing to individuals who identify with the cultural and religious aspects of the group’s message (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

Religion, too, is a crucial element of culture that influences terrorist behavior. In the case of religious terrorism, like that espoused by Hamas, religious beliefs and practices shape the worldview of its members and provide a moral framework for their actions (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

  1. Culture and Human Expression in Criminal Behavior

While culture and human expression can influence criminal behavior to some extent, the impact is generally less pronounced than in terrorism. Criminals are motivated by a variety of factors, including economic opportunities, personal grievances, and situational circumstances. Their actions are typically driven by individual or small-group interests rather than a shared cultural or ideological identity.

In criminal activities, cultural factors may play a role in shaping criminal behavior, such as in the case of organized crime groups that are deeply embedded within specific cultural communities. However, the cultural aspects are often secondary to the primary motivation of financial gain or power.

Motivations of Hamas

To gain a deeper understanding of the motivations behind Hamas’s actions, it is essential to explore specific causes and motivations that drive this Palestinian militant group.

  1. Resistance to Israeli Occupation

One of the central motivations of Hamas is the resistance to Israeli occupation and the desire to regain control of Palestinian territories. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, characterized by decades of territorial disputes and violence, has fueled the organization’s commitment to armed struggle as a means of achieving Palestinian self-determination. For Hamas, the resistance to Israeli occupation is a deeply rooted political and ideological cause (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

  1. Islamist Ideology

Hamas’s Islamist ideology plays a significant role in its motivations. The group seeks to establish an Islamic state in historic Palestine, guided by its interpretation of Islamic principles. This religiously inspired motivation drives Hamas to view its struggle as a divine duty and justifies the use of violence in pursuit of its goals (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

  1. Palestinian Nationalism

In addition to religious and political motivations, Hamas is deeply rooted in Palestinian nationalism. The organization sees itself as a defender of Palestinian rights and identity. This sense of nationalism is intertwined with the broader Palestinian struggle for statehood and independence, and it motivates Hamas to resist what it perceives as foreign occupation (Hamas: Encyclopedia Britannica).

Causes and Motivations of Terrorism

To provide a comprehensive overview of the causes and motivations of terrorism, it is essential to relate them to specific organizations and acts. Here, we will examine three prominent causes and motivations of terrorism and their relevance to real-world examples.

  1. Grievances and Perceived Injustice

One common cause of terrorism is the presence of grievances and perceived injustices. When individuals or groups feel oppressed or marginalized, they may turn to terrorism as a means of addressing their grievances. This motivation is exemplified by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), a paramilitary organization in Northern Ireland.

The IRA emerged in response to historical grievances among Irish Catholics, who felt discriminated against by the Protestant majority in Northern Ireland. The group’s primary motivation was to end British rule in Northern Ireland and achieve Irish reunification. The perceived injustice of British occupation fueled the IRA’s campaign of violence, including bombings and assassinations, in pursuit of its political goals (McKittrick & McVea, 2013).

  1. Ideological Extremism

Ideological extremism is another key motivation for terrorism. Extremist groups often hold radical beliefs and are willing to use violence to impose their ideologies on others. Al-Qaeda, a global jihadist organization, is a prime example of a group motivated by ideological extremism.

Al-Qaeda’s motivation is rooted in its interpretation of Islam and its goal of establishing a global Islamic caliphate governed by its extremist version of Islamic law. The group perceives Western influence and intervention in Muslim-majority countries as a threat to its ideology and seeks to combat it through acts of terrorism. Al-Qaeda’s ideology, characterized by religious extremism, sets it apart from criminal organizations (Bergen, 2011).

  1. Ethnonationalism and Separatism

Ethnonationalism and separatism often drive terrorism when ethnic or minority groups seek autonomy or independence. The Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA), a separatist group in Spain, provides a clear example of this motivation.

ETA, founded in 1959, aimed to establish an independent Basque state in the Basque Country and Navarre regions of Spain and France. The group’s motivation was rooted in Basque nationalism and a desire for self-determination. Over the decades, ETA carried out numerous bombings and assassinations in pursuit of its separatist goals (Preston, 2013).

Religious vs. Political Terrorism

Religious terrorism and political terrorism represent two distinct forms of terrorism, each characterized by different motivations, ideologies, and cultural factors. It is essential to understand the differences between these forms to develop effective counterterrorism strategies.

  1. Religious Terrorism

Religious terrorism is driven by religious ideologies and beliefs. Groups engaged in religious terrorism perceive their actions as divinely mandated and often seek to establish a society governed by their interpretation of religious laws. Al-Qaeda is a prime example of a religious terrorist organization.

Al-Qaeda’s motivation is deeply rooted in its extremist interpretation of Islam, which advocates for a global caliphate governed by its version of Islamic law. The group’s actions, including the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, were justified by religious principles. Religious terrorists like Al-Qaeda often view their struggle as a sacred duty and are willing to use extreme violence to achieve their goals (Bergen, 2011).

  1. Political Terrorism

Political terrorism, on the other hand, is driven by political ideologies and aims to advance specific political agendas. These groups may use violence as a means of achieving their political objectives, which may include territorial independence, regime change, or political reform. The IRA is an example of a political terrorist organization.

The IRA’s motivation was rooted in its goal of ending British rule in Northern Ireland and achieving Irish reunification. While the organization had historical grievances related to discrimination against Irish Catholics, its primary motivation was political. The IRA sought to use violence to exert pressure on the British government and advance its nationalist agenda (McKittrick & McVea, 2013).


Terrorism and criminal behavior are distinct forms of violence with differing motivations, ideologies, and cultural influences. While criminals are primarily motivated by personal gain or individual circumstances, terrorists are often driven by political, religious, or ideological motivations. Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, exemplifies these differences as it seeks to resist Israeli occupation and establish an Islamic state, motivated by a complex blend of political, religious, and nationalist ideologies.

Understanding the causes and motivations of terrorism is essential for devising effective counterterrorism strategies. Grievances, ideological extremism, and ethnonationalism are among the key factors that drive terrorism, as exemplified by organizations like the IRA, Al-Qaeda, and ETA. Moreover, distinguishing between religious and political terrorism allows for targeted and context-specific responses to these distinct forms of violence.

As the world grapples with the enduring threat of terrorism, comprehensive research and analysis are crucial to addressing the root causes and motivations behind these acts of violence. By doing so, policymakers and security agencies can work toward a safer and more secure global environment.


  1. “Hamas.” Encyclopedia Britannica.
  2. Bergen, P. (2011). The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda. Free Press.
  3. McKittrick, D., & McVea, D. (2013). The Northern Ireland Conflict: A Beginner’s Guide. Oneworld Publications.
  4. Preston, P. (2013). The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation. HarperCollins.

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