Commitment and motivation

This domain of the VERA-2R identifies individual motivations or indicators that have been identified as drivers of violent extremism.

Several different motivating elements may play a role at the same time in pushing an individual to violent extremism.

Such motivations are important for planning intervention programs and for understanding the individual’s risk and threat level.

Changes in these indicators can provide feedback on the efficacy of intervention and identify the emergence of change in these drivers of violent extremism.

It is important to identify the distinctive combination of the drivers of violent extremism and their relative importance to the individual. One may expect that more effort will be needed to change the ideas and mind set of an ideologue than that of a follower, criminal opportunist or seeker of excitement and adventure.

CM1 Motivated by perceived religious obligation and/or glorification: Mohammed Bouyeri, the murderer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, revealed in his testament that his fear of spending an eternity in hell for failing to live up to his God’s commandments, played a role in his attack (Schuurman & Horgan, 2016).

CM2 Motivated by criminal opportunism: Persons that have engaged in violence and other illegal acts can use their criminal skills for terrorist purposes (Basra, Neumann & Brunner, 2016).

CM3 Motivated by camaraderie, group belonging: Atran et al. (2014) demonstrated that “…a cluster of friends or fellow travelers may come to hold sacred values, perhaps initially influenced by one or a few of them, and then fuse into an imagined family-like group defined and driven by these values.”

CM4 Motivated by moral obligation, moral superiority: In some cases, individuals believe that their values and perspectives are morally superior to others, and they are motivated to act out of sense of moral obligation (Bandura, 2016, Rahman, 2018).

CM5 Motivated by excitement and adventure: Many young fighters who are recruited see themselves in an exciting role and anticipate adventure abroad in another country. Women who are recruited can be enticed by the promise of adventure and romance (Tarras-Wahlberg, 2017).

CM6 Forced participation in violent extremism: There may be explicit coercion, threats of punishment for disobedience, or implicit assumptions about what would happen if people back out (Berko, 2007; Merari, 2010).

CM7 Motivated by acquisition of status: Terrorist fighters and especially suicide bombers are motivated by status, either for themselves or for their family (Merari, 2005; Lankford, 2014; Middleton, 2014).

CM8 Motivated by a search for meaning and significance in life: Kruglanski et al (2014, 2017) mention a more general motivating force, the so-called quest for significance, as a fundamental desire to matter, to be someone, to have respect.