The root word of terrorist is “terror.” The conventional wisdom is that the purpose of terrorists is to incite fear, to make people give in to their demands out of fear. However, when you look at what certain groups of terrorists target, it seems that fear might not be their goal.
If their goal isn’t fear, why not? Ultimately it is because fear is an empiton that provokes unpredictable responses. One person might lash out, another might collapse into a ball, while a third might just keep pushing through. Certain terrorist groups might benefit from this, but the ones who are doing the large operations like 9/11, or the Paris Attacks, or the bombings in Istanbul? Fear is likely not their agenda.
If fear is not their agenda, what is? There is a negative response that their actions are engendering that is very predictable in its outcome. Hatred. While there are those who are afraid, the reactions by those who are prone to hate is what seems to be the goal.
Isn’t that counter productive? How would being hated benefit them? Being hated is absolutely beneficial. First, it means people are reacting to them. They get to dictate the response by what they support, or what they choose to not support. but, it is more than that: If you get enough people to hate your particular group, and then make them lump other groups that have nothing to do with your group in with your group, what have you done? You have worked towards isolating those other groups.
Consider that many of these terrorist groups are extremist ideologies that consider everything from The West to be evil. They have a goal of imposing their beliefs over the rest of their own religion, a religion that has many followers who will willingly work with those that these extremists consider to be evil. How do you stop this if you cannot force these moderates to agree with you? You undermine their ability to engage outside groups, by fomenting hatred and paranoia and prejudice. You turn the world against you AND those who follow beliefs that are less extreme and violent.
So, what if these terrorists are not trying to make us afraid of them(that that is just a by product), but, instead are trying to make us blindly hate them? What if fear has never been the goal?