Has Terrorism Research Become Stagnant?

May 20, 2013

Credit Jenica26 via flickr Creative Commons

“Why did they do it?”  That’s one of the first questions on the lips of every reporter and pundit after a tragedy like the Boston Marathon bombing, and often there is no satisfying answer.  In cases of domestic terrorism, the motives of the perpetrator leave us with other, equally difficult questions:  what separates angry young men, most of whom will never commit acts of mass violence, from those who do?

Former C.I.A. operations officer Marc Sageman is a forensic psychiatrist who’s spent the last eight years working with the intelligence community.  He says that the attacks on 9/11 triggered a ground swell of research into terrorism – but produced little in the way of results.