A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Political Explanations


Political Explanations

Abstract: 

The working group agreed on the central principle that terrorism is a form of political action. It cannot be taken out of specific historical contexts or treated as a generic phenomenon. It is a strategy rooted in political discontent, used in the service of many different beliefs and doctrines that help legitimize and sustain violence. Ideologies associated with nationalism, revolution, religion, and defense of the status quo have all inspired terrorism. We have to look at the opportunities, resources, intentions, and perceptions of actors for whom terrorism is useful to intimidate opponents, communicate goals, advertise the cause, recruit followers, and mobilize popular support.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Crenshaw, Martha. 2005. "Political Explanations." Addressing the Causes of Terrorism: The Club de Madrid Series on Democracy and Terrorism (January): 13-18. media.clubmadrid.org/docs/CdM-Series-on-Terrorism-Vol-1.pdf‎

START Author(s): 
Martha Crenshaw