In her chapter from What Terrorists Want, Louise Richardson speaks of her experience growing up as a sympathizer of the Irish Republican Army. Because of her experience growing up during a time of conflict in Northern Ireland, she writes that “when I hear of a terrorist atrocity, I do not think of the perpetrators as evil monsters; rather, I think of the terrorists I have met and the people I have known who have joined terrorist groups, and I rehearse in my mind their own justifications” (xii).
Drawing on specific stories from Richardson’s chapter, as well as the other readings assigned for this week (see the syllabus), what justifications are commonly used by anti-state, “social revolutionary” terrorists? Why does Richardson and others from similar backgrounds not see such terrorists as “evil monsters” but as misguided individuals who believe they are fighting for a “greater good”?
Finally, why does she think it is important for policy makers to see terrorists in this way? And, do you agree with her?