International Journal of Advances in Philosophy

2018;  2(2): 29-37



Terrorism: Three Criminological Theories, One Solution

Marcia R. Pinheiro

IICSE University DE

Correspondence to: Marcia R. Pinheiro, IICSE University DE.


Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Scientific & Academic Publishing.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY).


In this paper, we produce evidence on terrorism being a prevalent issue, present a few pros and cons of applying each one of three selected criminological theories (feminist criminology, cultural criminology, and rational choice theory) to determine reasons to perform a special type of terrorist act, the jihad, and, after weighting up pros and cons, we come up with a decision on what theory, amongst the three we here study, explains terrorism better, following that with a suggestion of policy.

Keywords: Policy, Terrorism, Jihad, Feminist, Criminology

Cite this paper: Marcia R. Pinheiro, Terrorism: Three Criminological Theories, One Solution, International Journal of Advances in Philosophy, Vol. 2 No. 2, 2018, pp. 29-37. doi: 10.5923/j.ap.20180202.01.

1. Introduction

The world reference (Pinheiro 2018, para. 5) that connects to the sigmatoid (Pinheiro 2015a, pp. 19-22) terrorism is a matter of debate still nowadays [(Blackbourn 2011, pp. 131-149), (Hodgson & Tadros 2013, pp. 494-526), (Asianet-Pakistan 2012, pp. 1-51), (Huff & Kertzer 2017, pp. 55-71)].
In Australia (Commonwealth of Australia 2018, para. 5-9),
“a terrorist act is an act, or a threat to act, that meets both these criteria:
Ÿ it intends to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious or ideological cause.
Ÿ it causes one or more of the following:
ο death, serious harm or danger to a person
ο serious damage to property
ο a serious risk to the health or safety of the public
ο serious interference with, disruption to, or destruction of critical infrastructure such as a telecommunications or electricity network.
Advocating, protesting, dissenting or taking industrial action are not terrorist acts where the person doing the activity does not intend to cause serious harm to a person or create a serious risk to public safety.
Anyone guilty of committing a terrorist act could face up to life imprisonment.”
Terrorism may cause the disgrace of many innocent people, and even the end of earth [(Pinheiro 2017a, pp. 1-6), (Smith & Zeigler 2017, pp. 1-8)].
There is also the side of the sanctions to those even lightly accused of terrorist acts.
Both the United States and Australia, two of the most important countries in the world, hold special law for those who are suspects, and the application of that law implies the suspension of the usual law, what means, for instance, that there is weak or null human rights protection for accusations of this type [(Australian Human Rights Commission 2008, para. 3), (Tayler 2017, para. 9-10)].
Equivocated detention would be one of the results of having special authorities considering accusations of this level of gravity (Tonn 2010, p. 15).
Some would perish in special detention facilities without being guilty of participation in any terrorist plot (Center for Constitutional Rights 2015, para. 6).
In this paper, we will be presenting evidence to the side of terrorism being a prevalent crime, analysing it from the perspective of three well-known criminological theories, and suggesting paths to solution based on that analytical study.
We focus on a single type of terrorist threat, which is the jihad, on an attempt to increase meaning of the results and of the study itself.

2. Methods

Literature survey, systematic analysis of the results of the scholastic application of statistical, and logical tools to relevant data sets, Bloom’s analysis, Bloom’s synthesis, and application of Inferential tools from Classical, and Fuzzy, Logic to the results of the Bloom’s processes of synthesis, and analysis.

3. Development

A Point on Speed of Acknowledgement
Terrorist acts are always being planned and even executed, but the capacity for formal acknowledgement by the system may be too low for us to be able to prove this threat in a more substantial way (BNP Media 2018, para. 1, 4).
If the system’s capacity for providing us with accurate figures is low, and its speed slow (the source we just mentioned, connecting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and terrorism, talks about 1,000 open cases, and 1,000 individuals of concern/in the watch list), so is our capacity and speed for conveying those figures through the popular media, and worse is then the people’s capacity for getting the just-mentioned data.
It is possible that popular media vehicles even wait for Science to validate or shape that data first.
We have been working with the definition of S-convexity, a reformulation, and, in some parts, a restatement, since the end of 2001.
Our work finished in 2017 at the ANZIAM conference (Pinheiro 2017b, para. 1-10).
That means a gap of 16 years between the start and the end of the process, and the process is rebuilding one definition, and only that.
This is in Mathematics…
A Point on Reliability of the Data
There is also an issue with the reliability of the data we have access to.
All governmental data is unreliable to a certain degree because of many reasons:
1) political – The State may think that - just to mention one possibility - gender of the victim is irrelevant in what comes to official records (Walby, Towers & Francis 2014), so that we will wish for determining the gender of the victim when doing research and using that data, but we will not be able to do that;
2) human – there should be no discrepancy between data sets if we talk about the same issue and the same community, but we do find discrepancies quite frequently (Andersson & Kazemian 2017). One of the most puzzling events that researchers have to deal with is not having a total of 100% when dealing with surveys [(Survey Monkey 2018, para. 1-2), (Banco Central do Brasil 2013, p. 7), (Globo Comunicação e Participações S.A. 2018, 00:51)];
3) ideological – we have to suspect results that point at only 9 deaths in 780 arrests, but we usually do not do that; we need to perform more detailed studies on the data before releasing results to the public, this even to create reliability for the brand/institution (Center for Constitutional Rights 2015); and
4) so on.
Researchers can only use what is official or empirical (Western Sydney University Library 2017, pp. 1-3).
Empirical work is directed by those sponsoring it, so that there is a good chance researchers cannot do what is logical or wanted (Chopra 2003, para. 1-9).
A Point on Speed of Analysis and Action
It is very unlikely that anything that has to do with terrorism gets investigated and addressed in a timely manner by the system (BNP Media 2018, para. 1, 4).
We can easily create a believable hypothesis: a person who is currently in Australia notices that someone from Brazil is doing something likely to be suspicious at their carioca university; they go and tell a friend, the friend tells a governmental person; the governmental person tells someone who matters, the someone who matters goes to the expert to validate the data; they validate the data, they seek authorisation of the top governmental leader, the leader authorises; and they then communicate with Brazil, since there is no declared war; top leader.
The top leader of Brazil communicates with their minister, who then communicates with their federal police, who finally investigates all.
Everything must be official, and therefore we need at least one written document, prepared according to the required and official standards, from each authority involved in that sequence.
One can tell that we would all be dead by the time the final decisions are being changed into action.
That is why we must work with Humanities tools (Corner, Gill & Mason 2016, pp. 560-568) to predict threat and deal with hazards of human nature, and Exact Sciences tools (Pinheiro 2017c, pp. 30-37) to address those in a way to stop the threat.
Researchers and even experts in general are frequently not heard in time (Westervelt 2014, para. 2).
Prevalence is then Established
In this case, terrorism is prevalent because the populace never knows that it is happening, but it is happening all the time (we can never screen absolutely everyone on earth at a time X, but, even if we could, so say we have reached a universal conclusion regarding how to identify individuals who are hazards, and how to deal with those in a way to stop threat before it becomes action, there will always be that individual who is hiding somewhere that far, remains out of the official records, and the United States had about at least five million people in this situation at a certain point in time (Gonzales & Raphael 2017, p. 1), and so on).
Many cases seem to never make the official records but inspire a lot of public commotion, so that they are also open cases, just not official ones: cases associated with the Targeted Individuals’ Community (The Tia – One World One Community 2017, para. 1), for example.
People may attribute those to entities, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or to academics working on official projects, but they probably originate in other governments and individuals - at most university students, undergraduates - and therefore it is terrorism in its purest.
The Jihad
In this paper, we focus on terrorist attacks of the type jihad to be able to get more substantial results.
In Osama’s words (Knapp 2003, p. 82):
‘All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on God, his Messenger, and Muslims. . . . [T] he jihad is an individual duty if the enemy destroys the Muslim countries. . . . As for the fighting to repulse [an enemy], it is aimed at defending sanctity and religion, and it is a duty. . . . On that basis, and in compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilian and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it.”
Jihad is a sigmatoid that one uses to feel empowered, but it is supposed to mean ‘declared war of the nation of Islam.’
The intentions of promoting a jihad would be having whoever is Islamic fighting a war against the chosen target.
In the selected Obama’s quote, that war would be against America and their allies.
The Jihadists, as one calls those who join a jihad, would have attacked the World Trade Center in the 9/11 attack (Knapp 2003, p. 82).
Feminist Criminology
Terrorism is a crime that is usually committed by males, so that this is a topic where Renzetti’s Feminist Criminology [(Renzetti 2013, p. 13) and (Renzetti 2016, pp. 43-44)] could play a meaningful role in the sense that, by studying why women do not commit such crime, we could acquire the capability to write a recipe to make men not join Terrorism.
Renzetti’s definition of Feminist Criminology ((Renzetti 2013, p. 13):
“Feminist Criminology is a paradigm that studies and explains criminal offending and victimization, as well as institutional responses to these problems as fundamentally gendered and that emphasizes the importance of using the scientific knowledge we acquire from our study of these issues to influence the creation and implementation of public policy that will alleviate oppression and contribute to more equitable social relations and social structure.”
Feminist Criminology states that the gender of the perpetrator is a relevant item when it comes to analysing crime (Meena & Amita 2017, p. 3): inside of it, we look for a woman’s point of view on all that has to do with crime.
There should be a convergence with Lombroso’s theories in the sense that what people inside of it are really attempting to do is relieving perpetrators from part of their due penalties by appealing to their physical characteristics (Farahany 2016, p. 486).
(Berko & Erez 2007, p. 510) lets us know that females usually play an accessory role in terrorism, and do not think of continuing their career in that area after their first arrest.
Women seem to see sacrifices in the name of their nations as something that deviates from what their duty as carers and progenitors is, and also as something that does not define their lives or identities (Berko & Erez 2007, p. 510).
According to (Gonzalez, Freilich & Chermak 2014, p. 359), ‘relationships are essential to women’s involvement in terrorism’, and ‘their involvement is made or broken through their misguided male and female acquaintances.’
Surprisingly, Gonzalez, Freilich & Chermak (2014, p. 361) conclude that religion is not part of the reasons as to why females join terrorism.
If women join The Jihads for emotional reasons, for having bonds with those already involved, then working on the theology of their discourse would weaken the will of those who are already involved, and the reasons for the women to join the movement would decrease in a way to reflect the power of the counter-argument.
Some scholars are already working on that end; people like Doctor David Wood [(Radio Christi 2018), (Acts17Apologetics 2015)], and Doctor Marcia Pinheiro (Pinheiro 2016, para. 2,5).
Where does Feminist Criminology fail?
So far, the number of males who practice terrorism is way superior: 26% were women in suicide bombing worldwide between 1981 and 2007, says Agara (2015, p. 121), so that 74% were men, and 15% of all cases that the Federal Bureau of Investigation catalogued from 1980 to 2002 involved women, so that 85% involved men.
That is a problem because, instead of feminist, this theory could be masculinist in the sense that only those women who have characteristics that resemble those of the males would join the movements under study.
These results do not consider the amount of women who would like to be involved in terrorism, and we would expect this amount to be large.
If the group of those who would like to join but cannot do that for one reason or another were studied, the main conclusion could be proven to be equivocated (deviation from their expected roles instead of political/religious convictions).
Besides, (Ruggiero 2017, p. 8) seems to point at young people making decisions that are associated with jihad based on social bonds, so that that is not valid only for women, and that is when we could suggest the extension of the analysis to the masculine cases, what interests us: making all that can be universalised be universalised through the lens of women, so through studies that not only consider, but privilege, women’s perspectives.
The newly created theories on the Shared Ego [(Pinheiro 2014a) and (Pinheiro 2017d)] could be the ideal tool to study the just-mentioned groups, regardless of the gender we consider in our analysis.
It is also possible that the geometry of the hierarchy of the group makes a non-negligible difference in terms of effects of its action or reasons for its formation, so that (Pinheiro 2017e) could also be of value in this analysis.
Cultural Criminology
Cultural Criminology, in the sense of Young and Hayward (2004, p. 259), is the science of regarding crime and the control agencies as derivations of culture, ‘creative constructs’; it is contextualising crime and its control (O’Brien 2005, p. 599).
It is surely the case that the sigmatoid crime, in Australia, is associated with world references that differ, in a substantial way, from those in Brazil.
For instance, begging in Brazil is OK, but begging in Adelaide, in the year of 2018, is a crime [(Brooks, E. 2018), and (AustLII 2005)].
If we see something like begging as a pitiful situation in Brazil (NE10 2017, para. 2), but as a crime in Australia, then the world reference that corresponds to crime and authority punishing perpetrators or deterring it would have to be social/creative constructs.
Young’s and Hayward’s definition of Cultural Criminology (Hayward (2004, p. 259):
“it is the placing of crime and its control in the context of culture; that is, viewing both crime and the agencies of control as cultural products—as creative constructs. As such, they must be read in terms of the meanings they carry. Furthermore, cultural criminology seeks to highlight the interaction between these two elements: the relationship and the interaction between constructions upwards and constructions downwards. Its focus is always upon the continuous generation of meaning around interaction; rules created, rules broken, a constant interplay of moral entrepreneurship, moral innovation and transgression.”
In Victoria, Australia, the main focus of the preventative work from the police, in terms of terrorism, is the jihadists (START 2016, p. 77).
What they do in their original culture, Islam, is obviously seen as licit and wanted (Sivan, E. 2018, para. 7), but, in our culture, it is seen as illicit and unwanted.
Studying this crime in context may lead to a solution, so that we stop having jihadism in Australia; a wanted result.
Jihadism, a subculture, is serving the purpose of protecting the original status and identity of the immigrants (Hayward 2011, p. 68).
Jihadists seem to combat the own Islamic people (belief: Islamic leaders are guilty for the decline of the Islamic community, and their weakness is due to embracing the West, and therefore deviating from the true Islamic path) (Sedgwick 2012, p. 362).
Atrocities were committed against the Iraqis by jihadists, according to the Information Operations Task Force (IOTF) from the United States of America (Sedgwick 2012, p. 369), and that is then compatible with the idea of jihadists attacking the own Islamic people (Bureau of Public Affairs 2011, para. 1).
That is not a reason not to study the movement, since an Islamic person could be in a group of non-Islamic people in a pub in Australia, be a target of jihad, and their assassination could imply the assassination of those around them.
We are interested in stopping the jihads and, in principle, they are the result of fomenting religious thinking.
It is worthwhile reading (Sedgwick 2012) because, in this source, the author defends that theological arguments may stop terrorist actions by jihadists.
Even though Sedgwick admits that ideology is definitely not the only cause of terrorism (Sedgwick 2012, p. 359), he defends that it ‘is necessary for there to be terrorism’ (Sedgwick 2012, p. 359).
Ideology is still a strong component in the analysis of terrorism and terrorism-related events (Ugarriza & Craig 2012, pp. 22-25).
“The end of jihadist ideology, then, might reasonably be expected to mean the end of jihadist terrorism.”
(Sedgwick 2012, p. 359)
We should invest in finishing with the ideology through theological argumentation.
One of the reasons to stop thinking about, and working in the direction of, theological argumentation in the case of the jihads are that women (Gonzalez et al. 2014, p. 361) and young people (Ruggiero 2017, p. 8) join terrorism because of emotions.
According to (Ugarriza & Craig 2012, pp. 17-18), this is true about everyone (they usually join because of their family’s experience).
We could then suggest an approach that mixes Shared Ego Theory with Total Mental Response (Pinheiro 2014b) to address these emotional issues.
Rational Choice Theory
Akers’ Rational Choice Theory states that
“human actions are based on rational decisions - that is, they are informed by the probable consequences of that action.”
(Akers 1990, p. 654)
It also states that
“the rational choice theory posits that one takes those actions, criminal or lawful, which maximize payoff and minimize costs”
(Akers 1990, p. 654)
and (Akers 1990, p. 655) that
“neither deterrence nor rational choice theory is a general or complete model of criminal behavior. The central concepts and propositions in each-fear of legal punishment in deterrence theory and the reward/cost balance (or expected utility function) in rational choice theory-are subsumable under the more general differential reinforcement formula in social learning theory. Differential reinforcement refers to the overall balance of rewards and punishment for behavior.”
Anderton & Carter (2005, p. 281) think that if the ‘normal income opportunities’ and the ‘market wages’ rise, terrorist actions lower down, and that is in perfect alignment with the idea that it all depends on the payoff, and the costs involved, but we need to perform more rigorous studies to confirm that in what regards half of the story, which is the normal income opportunities. If the market wages rise, terrorist activities lower down because of the law of demand (Anderton & Carter 2005, pp. 281-282).
(Ruggiero 2017, p. 7) lets us know that jihadists are financing their crimes through normal crime, so that not only the crime they commit has political/ideological motivation, but the money they get in profitable businesses is simply disappearing.
There is abundant evidence on how lucrative the business of terrorism is: see (Kiser 2005, p. 1) and (Aliu et al. 2017, pp. 99-100) for two good sources of information in those regards.
There is also evidence on how the money invested in terrorist activities simply disappears: (Pinheiro 2017d, p. 1).
Maximizing payoff and minimizing costs, like even the name of this theory tells us, is using our rationality, but terrorists are usually classified as mentally insane by medical doctors whenever medically assessed, and mental illness means deprivation of a percentage of our rationality (Miller 2006, pp. 266-267).
On the other hand, even attacks of the type 9/11 (Smith & Zeigler 2017) seem to target something special, rational, and important.
Even if the profit is not something that we can immediately see, it might still be there.
The owner of the World Trade Centre (Associated Newspapers Ltd. 2018, para. 1) or his family could be the actual target, and therefore there could be hands that we can never see behind every major incident in human kind, especially those we actually get to know about through popular media.
We must acknowledge that a multitude of incidents that are relevant to even the entire human kind will never be mentioned by the mainstream media, regardless of type (scientific, popular, etc.).
How many would have heard of the U2s and the coincidences involving sightings of UFOs?
(Erbschloe 2017) lets us know a lot about that, but this is not main stream, and many years have passed since the incidents (circa 1947).
Perhaps Paulo Freire’s belief (two distinct groups of humans exist in our race, The Oppressed and The Oppressors) is the actual truth (Freire 1968).
In this case, we will never be able to perform a complete scientific analysis or reach results that are useful in practice, for we cannot even determine the main aim with the activity (it could be ruining the family of the owner of the business rather than injuring America in the case involving the World Trade Center…).
If intelligence tools are so good, and the CIA so powerful, we end up thinking that all might be done with their awareness, consent, and unconditional support.
It is interesting to notice that the attacks stop by there, by the destruction of part of the World Trade Center, as for all we are told, so that that was an isolated incident, but, if terrorists are so good that they can keep the CIA away, then they should also be good enough to keep on going along the same lines.
Some meaningful evidence exists to the side of some terrorist agents being recruited against their will, and also to the side of most of them joining based on their family’s experience, and therefore on emotional bonds (Ugarriza & Craig 2012, pp. 20-25), and that frontally opposes rationality.

4. Conclusions

We here performed a brief study on Renzetti’s Feminist Criminology, Young and Hayward’s Cultural Criminology, and Akers’ Rational Choice Theory.
We explained terrorism under the light of each one of the just-mentioned theories: Renzetti helped us explain it through emotional connections between women and the members of the groups, Young and Hayward helped us explain it through religious and political convictions, and Akers helped us explain it through entrepreneurial thinking (profit and loss).
Renzetti may have made us fail for not analysing potential female terrorists (women who want but cannot join The Jihads for one reason or another) or larger groups of interest inside of which those women they studied fit (young people and even people in general).
Young and Hayward may have made us fail for not including those who would not be ideologically motivated [(Gonzalez et al. 2014, p. 361) and (Ugarriza & Craig 2012, p. 9)] in the studies of theirs we here used, and also for studying only jihad, which forms one (only) of the so many streams of the terrorist attacks.
Akers may have made us fail for not including those who are ideologically motivated in the studies of his we here used (Sedgwick 2012, p. 369) as well as those who are insane or forced to join, yet terrorists are usually classified as mentally ill when they go through psychiatric assessments.
Our studies are limited to The Jihad, which is just one form of terrorist attack, but The Jihad has acquired undeniable meaning inside of Terrorism, for the Victoria Police is focusing on that form of attack for a time now [since 2014. See (START 2016, p. 77)].
All three theories seem to point at a single result: people join terrorism mostly because of their intimate relationships (family, partners, friends, and so on), so that this is not a cause that is associated only with women.
There are cases in which they are forced to join, and there are also other cases, say pure insanity.
After people join, there is a process to keep them inside of the groups, and that is the ideological inculcation. Without a theory that is self-sustainable, The Jihads would not be able to keep people involved for enough time to organise a meaningful attack.
The theory that offers us the best explanation for terrorist acts, amongst the three we here study and the facts we exposed, is therefore Young and Hayward’s Cultural Criminology.
A crime prevention policy that is good, and in alignment with the theory we decided to favour, must then include the release of fundamental data through the main vehicles, such as the date of creation of the holy book of Islam (hundreds of years after the creation of The Bible). There are striking similarities in the stories told in both books, and Moses is one of them (Pinheiro 2015b).
The introduction of rationality and debate in the religious meetings of those involved in terrorism should bring the possibility of dialogue and a more meaningful delay in terms of start of violence as well as some decrease on levels of violence if we already have episodes.
If people connect through emotions to The Jihadists, and, because of that, join them, we can always induce states of shared ego, perhaps through the Total Mental Response Technique, and make people, so also the women mentioned in the studies of Gonzalez et al. (2014, p. 361), do whatever we want them to do, including not joining or leaving those movements.
We can also establish a culture of centers inside of the universities and main suburbs, just like we have done in Sydney with the Christian Churches [(Sydney Uni Catholic Society 2017) and (Credo 2017)], and, through those, work on rationality.
The person must remain in the movement after joining it for criminal episodes to happen, and that is achieved via inculcation of the theological ideas (Ugarriza & Craig 2012, p. 24) in the case of jihad.
In this way, we can inculcate the right ideas via Science. Inside of these centers, we can seed scientific thinking without escaping the themes of interest of our target groups (Islam, Quoran, and so on).


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