The causes of International Issues and Problems

May 23, 2013 10:30 am

In this day and age, one thing is clear: international issues and problems have many causes, but what exactly are they?

internationalTerrorism is an international issue with several causes. The first and major cause of terrorism is religious fundamentalism and extremism. The reason this leads to terrorist activity is due to misinterpretation of scriptures in holy books and brainwashing especially among converts. As a result of not being brought up with religion and/or not practicing their religion, individuals become more susceptible to being recruited by terrorists. This is due to not having a full understanding of their religion, thus, making them more vulnerable to falling prey to malevolent subsets of religious ideology. According to Muhamad Ali, an assistant professor of religious studies at UC Riverside and an expert on Islam, “Converts are especially enthusiastic about new ideas and more likely to accept fringe beliefs, including that violence is a legitimate religious objective.” Muhamad then goes on to articulate that some passages of holy books could, if taken out of context, seem to endorse violence.

Violent ideologies are justified in holy book verses to the likes of Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism. A famous example of an attack based on religious extremism was 9/11. In September 11, 2001, a group of 19 radicals hijacked four passenger airlines to be flown into buildings in suicide attacks. Although there are many theories of the root cause of these attacks, one credible theory, according to prospects magazine, suggests “9/11 was collateral damage in a civil war within the world of political Islam.” “Bin Laden adopted a war against ‘the far enemy’ in order to hasten the demise of the “near enemy” regimes in the middle east. And he used 9/11 to advance that cause.” However, for the most part, his plan failed despite the extent of radicalization present in the world at this time.

Another cause of terrorism is nationalism, separatism and unionism. These are all ideological beliefs with the intention of separating from a country or unifying with another city/country ( e.g. Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland). The reason this leads to terrorist activity is because some individuals believe violence is the only answer, and that non-violent means pressure groups, social media, etcetera.. One example of a nationalism/separatism attack is ETA (‘Euskadi Ta Askatasuna’) also known as ‘Basque Homeland and Freedom’. In July 29, 2009, a car bomb exploded outside a barracks of a paramilitary Civil Guard in the northern Spain city of Burgos. The cause of ETA’s attacks links into political and cultural injustice as their fight for freedom was synonymous with their fight against the Franco administration (dictatorship). As a result of their basque language and culture being banned and many people dying due to their political beliefs, ETA had no choice but to resort to violence. ETA has since ceased fire in October 2011 but has noted they will not “rest until independence and socialism” in their ceasefire statement. In addition, socio-economic factors and social marginality links into terrorism.

international issuesAccording to NY Times, “extreme poverty is the greatest humanitarian crisis of our time and a fundamental contributing factor to 21st century terrorism and insurgency.” The reason this leads to terrorist activity is because some people hold an ideological belief that desperate times calls for desperate measures and that their and other people’s lives will get better which leads to a conflict of ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’. In November 26, 2008, twelve coordinated shooting and bombing attacks emerged in Mumbai. While the perpetrators demanded independence, poverty was also a major issue. According to, “several of the attackers came from poverty and chronic unemployment” and “at least one of the attackers was promised that his family would receive $1,500 in exchange for his martyrdom.” Whilst poverty may not be a root cause of terrorism, it is a contributing factor.

Moreover, occupation and oppression is another cause of terrorism. The definition of these terms is ‘the exercise of authority or power in an unjustly manner.’ The reason this links to terrorist activity is because certain individuals want to change the current political and military agenda and feel their voices cannot be heard in any other way. In July 12, 2006, a divisionary rocket attack was initiated on Israeli military positions. The reasoning of this attack derived from Israeli’s capture of Hezbollah’s militants, however, occupation is a huge problem that has caused conflicts between Hezbollah and Israel for a long time. According to, since Israel withdrew its army from Lebanon, there has not been a single Lebanese attack. Foreignpolicy has also argued the root of suicide terrorism isn’t religious but rather the problem is foreign military occupations.

Overall, there is no single root cause to terrorism and almost always, every factor of terrorism is based on an ideological belief whether it is anti-abortion or social-political injustice, every factor contains a set of ideas or beliefs, a certain individual or group holds. According to Republic Of Turkey Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “these factors, alone or together can create a fertile ground where terrorism can flourish.”

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  • ChrisRobinson

    I was trying to get into this, but somehow, the lay out is all messed up. Pity.

    • Yes, I’ve noticed that. I will upload the full article in my blog (, hopefully you will be able to understand it then.

    • AdminCharlie

      Apologies to Ayah-Sofia, Chris and everyone else who had problems reading this article. We aren’t entirely sure why it looked like that but hopefully everything has been resolved. Sorry once again!

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  • ChrisRobinson

    Thanks, AdminCharlie! Yes, Ayah, a worthwhile article about the root causes of terrorism, particularly in light of the recent outrage on the streets of Woolwich!

    It’s my belief that, given all your points, there are two underlying factors that also need addressing, one of which you touch on in your article.

    The NY Times statement: ‘extreme poverty is…a fundamental contributing factor to 21st century terrorism and insurgency’…is spot on. We would do well to explore this further. Why, exactly, is there so much poverty? To ask that is to answer it. The wealth gap between the internationally rich and poor is wider now than it has ever been and it is no coincidence that the capitalist system, particularly in times of crisis, is the prime culprit here built up over centuries of exploitative imperialistic geo-political policies in the name of profit for the few over the majority.

    My other point is that why do people turn to terrorism – in the so-called Third World and even in the so-called ‘metropolitan countries’ (the Ireland Question, Baader-Meinhoff in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy etc.)?

    Terrorists, by their nature, a small groups of disillusioned people who believe they can take forward a struggle over and above the heads of the masses. In the absence of organised mass movements, they believe all they have to do is assassinate, bomb, kidnap etc and this will, in some way, detonate a revolution. In reality, all these acts do is kill or maim innocent people, by and large, divide people and ive the authorities the excuse to introduce oppressive legislation that effects some of our democratic freedoms. Therefore, terrorism has the opposite effect the terrorist groups usually intend. Theirs are the acts of desperate people who have no ideas other than to lash out.

    The REAL answer to oppressive governments is to organise mass social movements if society is to be changed for the better. The wealth created is concentrated in too few hands and should be distributed more fairly so every body has a decent home, a decent job with fair pay, health, education. It is within our grasp to do this, it only needs the coming together of mass organisations such as trade unions and community and campaigning groups to come together and bring an end to the corrupt, rotten capitalist system that puts greed before need.

    • First of all thank you AdminCharlie for fixing the layout problems and a big thank you to Chris as well for your feedback and opinion. I personally agree that in order to eradicate terrorism, our government needs to look into removing poverty. I also think you have touched on a very good point: the wealth gap. You mentioned international wealth gap and whilst that is a huge problem we must also look more locally. The UK itself, for example, has a very wide wealth gap and only time will tell but unless we don’t fix this problem now, the wealth gap will only further increase, reaching levels last seen in Victorian times, and this time the ‘victims’ won’t stay quiet, whether we like it or not. I do agree terrorists, by nature, are ‘small groups of disillusioned people’ but I think we must also think about who funds/ recruit/ brainwash these terrorists. Surely they are the bigger problem? They might not be the ones pulling the trigger of this metaphorical gun but they are loading the bullets. Stopping them will create a bigger impact than stopping ‘dissilousined’ youths and stopping them will allow us to Prevent, Protect, Prepare and Pursue terrorism, which is what the UK government envisaged. Your explanation of this credible point reminds me of a scene in ‘Four Lions’. A terrorist wanted to bomb a mosque so that their community would think the ‘enemies’ plotted this attack and revolt. However he was stopped by his friend who said planning this attack would be punching yourself in the face, and that is exactly it. In reality, terrorising won’t ‘detonate a revolution’; it would be punching yourself in the face. I also agree that our wealth is concentrated and that it is within our grasp to come together with pressure groups and bilateral and multinational organisations to end ‘greed’ which will eventually make the world a better place but I realise the probability of this. We can’t expect our wealth to be fairly distributed between everybody, not if right-winged enthusiast has anything to do with it, but I think with time (or maybe a lot of time) our country and the world will develop into a fairer place.

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