Many believe that the 'center of gravity' of jihadist terrorism in an extremist ideology, radical Islam. This "ideas-first" view of radicalization is also popular in social movement theory, which offers three interpretations of the power of ideas. One interpretation says that the mobilization depends on the degree to which a movement's ideology appeals to the existing beliefs of potential recruits (framing theory). Another says the the mobilization depends on expressing the beliefs and identities of a subculture ("new social movement theory"). The third says that mobilization depends on offering a substantial probability of social change in a direction favored by potential recruits (rational choice theory).
McCauley, Clark. 2009. "Does Political Radicalization Depend on Ideology?." Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict (November): 213-215. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17467581003642344#.Ul7mxBDikck