Profiles and Policy: Evaluating how the Social Structure and Motivating Factors of Modern Terrorist Organizations Impact US Foreign Policy
This thesis asks who becomes an operative for modern terrorist networks and why. In order to effectively formulate counterterrorism strategy, it is imperative to consider motivating factors and end goals of each organization. While religious motivation exists for terrorist networks, the extreme drive for political equality in their region of operation is what creates the most significant impact. By surveying the history, tactics, funding, and motivating factors of two major organizations, extreme nationalism is determined to have greater motivation for these groups than religious extremism. Special attention is given to female operatives in terrorist organizations by presenting common themes of motivation and proposing that while these women operate actively to gain political equality for their organization as a whole, they still struggle with the same fight for gender equality within the organization. Research is concluded by discussing how foreign policy has changed in a post-9/11 society and what still needs to be done in order to address the growing role of women in terrorist networks.