Terrorism In Iraq: History, Causes, And Goals

For one to comprehend the term terrorism and its causes, an individual must dig deep into the background of terrorism in terms of several aspects namely; the political, social, religious and also psychological origin with which terrorism emerged. Terrorism as a word can be defined as governing by fear. This originated from Maximillian Robespierre's rule in 1793 when the French revolution had come to an end. It can also be defined as the use of violence and threats mostly against civilians to gain political influence.

Acts of terrorism are considered not only as a personal decision but also a political technique handpicked from a variety of alternatives. To gain a better understanding of the reasons behind a group of individuals perpetrating actions of terror, one needs to examine the background, social, economic, religious, political and psychological settings in which the group emerged. This paper is going to examine various aspects such as historical roots of terrorism, why they came to be, and their goals amongst others. This will be in a relationship with the general strain theory of terrorism. When a person comprehends the causes of terrorism, he can formulate policies of counter-terrorism. To begin with, the general strain theory of terrorism pinpoints that terrorism is likely to erupt whenever people especially civilians encounter aggregated strains such as high size with many people affected. The roots of terrorism in Iraq erupted socially after the fall of Saddam Hussein and the regime of Ba'ath in 2003. When this occurred, the political stability of Iraq encountered a change of leadership from a one-party led dictatorship type of government to a government of democracy. Some groups of people survived attempted to formulate Iraqi nationalism as an option. Due to some victory resulting from sectarianism and relationship regarding tribalism over Iraq, a group of Sunnis Arabs was not happy because the ruling position was coming back.

As a result of all these occurrences, the Sunni Arabs came to terms with some groups of radicalism. This fueled up anger and disputes from Sunni and Shiite Arabs because of religion (Karami, 2017). After the fall of Saddam Hussein and the end of Ba'ath regime in 2003, Sunni Arabs felt the threat of going back to face the problems their ancestors were facing when the government of Iraq was formed in the 1920s. The Sunnis and survivors of the regime had the hope of having the opportunity of taking part and ruling the government of Iraq as per the idea of Iraqi nationalism. During a parliamentary election, Sunni won in some areas and lost in other parts like Dohuk, Arbil, and Solaimaniyeh. Aspects like tribalism, ethnic and religion aided in the defeat of Iraqi nationalism and thus their expectations were not met (Agnew, 2010). A proposal by representatives from American senates for Sunni to attain a regional government as per the Iraqi constitution bore no fruits. Sunnis had a mindset that they were supposed to be in total control over Iraq and according to the proposal, they would lose Baghdad and Kirkuk regions. The Sunnis in Iraq and Syrian made attempts to bring regional balance but were met by revolution and riot.

This political instability in Iraq led to acts of terror and formation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The Sunnis believed that it is unjust for them not to rule the parts they deserve, this escalated levels of riots and terrorism all over Iraq (Agnew, 2010). The acts of terrorism have particular objectives being targeted. Generally, the fundamental objectives of the terrorist group in Iraq can be categorized into; religious, altruistic and personal. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group have specific goals derived from these three categories the first one of them being the establishment of a caliphate in Iraq and Levant (Agnew, 2010). To achieve this objective, they will first prioritize a means which will help them get rid of the present-day rulers in Iraq and Levant. When they succeed to do so, they will have another objective of increasing the number of people practicing Islam and adhering to Sharia Law. Terrorists in Iraq can achieve their primary objective by targeting non-Muslim and instilling Islamic faith and laws to them.

Moreover, they will try to cleanse the world and get rid of people who neither want to join the Islam faith nor adhere to Sharia law. Their third planned objective was to refresh the might and glory of the Sunni Islam. This third objective could be made possible by valuing the lives of Sunnis and enforcing what they intended to be a pure and stern type of Islam. The objectives of terrorism can also be individual based. A close analysis carried out at the ISIL group showed that the followers of the terrorist had some specific personal goals. One of their core objectives was to give firm support to Sunni and other humanitarian causes. Their support will aid the terrorist group in achieving its main objectives. In addition to this, the followers also had other objectives like creating a new or refreshing the might of Islam (Siebert et. al, 2015). Islam is their religion, upholding it and following strict Sharia Law is what they valued the most. When followers rendered their support to this terrorist group, their lives would have a new meaning. This sense of belonging and feeling of fighting for the right thing created a feeling of great accomplishment. To achieve total control and fear over its victims, terrorists use several ways to terrorize their victims. Modern technology has greatly affected how terrorists inflict fear and exercise control over their adversaries. There is a report made that in 2016, there was a successful drone attack conducted by ISIS against its enemies. This escalated the complexity of their attack technology as they used more sophisticated weapons. There is a rampant strike up of modern technology used by the terrorist of the 21st century. Drones and artificial intelligence used by terrorists could prove lethal. The terrorist could also advance their techniques by automating weapons for coming murders on a huge scale. A recent report indicates that in the year 2018, ISIL appealed for scientists to go to the caliphate and help them develop the technology of drones and AI. The combination of these two technologies will be highly lethal. Unmanned ed aerial vehicles, technologies such as facial recognition and communication between machines have greatly been assimilated by groups of terrorists. To ensure successful effects and realization of their objectives, terrorists employ several different ways to recruit people into joining them. Social media offers a huge platform where terrorists spread their ideologies and propaganda intending to recruit many fighters. The power harnessed by communicating to people in social media is huge and the terrorist knows this.

A study conducted revealed the terrorist group in Iraq, ISIS, used social media to communicate with its supporters and recruit people. It is reported that ISIS has an official channel know as Al-Hayat Media which intentionally targets people who don't speak Arabic. This media broadcasts in multiple languages, Turkish included. Violent videos showing mass killings conducted by this terrorist group enable them to frighten people who are against them and on the other hand recruit their sympathizers. This form of recruitment is considered a passive recruitment method. Recruitment through mass media may sometimes be sophisticated and thus requires expertise. Active means of recruiting people to terrorism. While passive means of recruitment are concerned with mass media, active recruitment results when there is a face to face contact between the recruiter and the individual who is a possible candidate for recruitment. To achieve active recruitment, the terrorists target a specific geographical location where their chances of getting sympathizers are high. Active recruitment might be interest-based for instance, the terrorists might be interested in recruiting engineers, doctors, IT specialists and field commanders among others. When active recruitment is carried out, there is usually an advantage to them because they require little financial assistance. Reports have shown that in some instances, recruiters are trained to offer theological teachings when recruiting their subjects. Another form of recruitment conducted by terrorists is kidnapping. As ISIS was gradually increasing its borders, its members abducted children from different institutions such as schools, orphanages and some even took them away from their families. It was reported that approximately 6800 children under the age of 14 were abducted from Sinjar by ISIS. In addition to this, a range of children approximated to be between 800 to 900 was taken forcefully from Mosul with an intention for religious and military training purposes. In some cases, young people get recruited voluntarily to terrorism. This might be as a result of several reasons such as the need for identity, ideas of the group, potential fame and glory. It is true to acknowledge that when young people get in such groups, they can be easily tricked by the terrorist and can achieve total control over them. Moreover, children born in territories governed by a terrorist are likely to get attached to terrorism ideologies and adhere to them.

Reports confirm that several infants above 730 were born in places that are under the rule of ISIS. Other reports place several children born and raised under ISIS territory approximately 5000. For one to comprehend the characteristics of terrorists, an individual need to understand the ideology behind the terrorist group. When people carry out acts of terror for instance killing, threatening, and abduction without being identified as part of a certain group and without any motive behind their actions then they cannot be considered as a terrorist. One can consider a characteristic of terrorism as a brain ideology. A terrorist has a stern follow of the ideas behind their group. It is thought that their ideas are behind aspects like victimhood. Ideas like this are usually powerful and thus some people are willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good of their community. Another characteristic of a terrorist is the brain of violence. This is psychological since a group that has great compassion can potentially harm anyone who attempts to go against their beliefs. The belongingness of a group and the need to protect it can lead to an extreme motive of violence. This lives within all individuals and specifically the terrorist. Members of a terrorist group possess an empathic factor. People supporting the deeds of terrorists have empathy towards this group and thus perform actions of support to them. Empathy can aid in both assisting the needy and aiding the terrorist to achieve their target. The deep awareness of the goals and suffering of terrorists can contribute to people caring for them. In research conducted by some individuals, it was found out that there was an increased willingness for particular individuals to harm members of the civilian population who are not supporting them. Interviews carried out on people who had attempted to carry out suicide bombings or their families also proved the willingness of individuals and families to help the terrorist achieve their goals. Elimination of terrorism is something relatively challenging to achieve, no matter the case, for one to be able to apply measures of counter-terrorism, one has to understand the reasons behind it. The strain theory of terrorism tries to analyze various aspects that lead people to perform acts of terror. Identification of high-risk populations is in my opinion, a very crucial step in attempts to eliminate terrorism. Youths are highly vulnerable since they can easily be radicalized and recruited to terrorism. This can happen even within a family setting. The U. S government has formulated several methods of countering the actions of extremist groups in an attempt to reduce its influence and stop them. In my evaluation, the U. S understood the idea behind social media tactics of terrorists and have applied this tactic to counter the messages broadcasted by terrorists on social media. In an attempt to recruit and or gain sympathy from people, the social media messages by terrorists are disrupted by the U. S. This technique is advantageous since the same recipients of the terrorist messages will be able to read counter messages and acknowledge that what the terrorist are advocating is wrong.

In conclusion, terrorism in Iraq can be traced to have resulted from factors such as political and social issues. These collective strains caused dismay to a group of people and the results were the horrible formation of terrorist groups. The targets of terrorist groups in Iraq are mainly focused on religious, altruistic and personal objectives. The ideology of what the terrorist believes and their targets are the backbones of their growth. People need to identify the most at-risk population to terrorism recruitment when one wants to counter the actions of terrorists. It is challenging to control the actions of terrorist but in my opinion, terrorism can be dealt with when the psychological needs of people are met. Utopia would be achieved if the strains affecting people were removed. A world without terrorism is a beautiful world.


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10 December 2020
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