Available literature shows that since 1795, in specific sense of "government intimidation during the Reign of Terror in France" (March 1793-July 1794); acts of violence have been committed by groups that view themselves as victimized by some notable historical wrong (Post, J., Sprinzak, E., & Denny, L. (2003) ; Brannan, D. W., Esler, P. F., & Strindberg, N. T. A. (2001) ; and Keane, F. (2001) ). In his book, The Psychology of Terrorism, Randy Borum (2004) concurs that perceived injustice, need for identity and need for belonging have been noted as common vulnerabilities among potential terrorists. And, although terrorist groups have no formal connection with governments, they usually have the financial and moral backing of sympathetic governments.
Typically, they stage unexpected attacks on civilian targets, including embassies and airliners etc, with the aim of sowing fear and confusion; and Kenya has been a frequent target of terrorism in recent past.
For instance, just at the turn of the New Year 2016, an unknown number of Kenyan soldiers were killed by the Al-Shabaab after the terror group attacked the Kenya Defence Forces camp in El-Adde, in Gedo Somalia. During the year 2015, Seven (7) major terrorist attacks were recorded in Kenya, among them the Garissa University attack in which 148 students were killed. In addition, some Eleven (11) attacks were registered in the year 2014 whereas the year 2013 went down history as the worst year for Kenya with a whooping Fifteen (15) terrorist attacks being recorded. Among these was the deadliest terror attack carried out by Somali militant Al-Shabaab in the West Gate shopping mall in Kenya's capital Nairobi that left at least 66 people killed and more than 175 injured. This was in addition to some Two (2) attacks recorded in 2011 and an attack each recorded during the years 2007 and 2003. In 2002, Five (5) terrorist attacks were meted on Kenya and another attack in 2001. All these following soon after the world’s renown 1998 United States embassy bombings that occurred on August 7th, 1998, in which over 200 people were killed in nearly simultaneous truck bomb explosions in two East African cities, one at the United States Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the other at the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Surprisingly, little research or analysis has been conducted on terrorist recruitment efforts, which do appear to be concentrated in areas where people feel most deprived and dissatisfied (Borum, 2004).
To understand the psychology of those who engage in terrorism, Psychologists have tried to analyze current evidence to argue that only by asking the right questions about this complex problem, and by answering them with evidence, can we truly begin to understand the nature of terrorism and respond effectively to this serious threat to human existence (Borum, 2004). These researchers have noted further that people become terrorists in different ways, in different roles, and for different reasons. Thus, in the bid to find a longlasting solution t this pandemic, we believe that it may be helpful to tease out reasons for joining terrorist groups, reasons for remaining in such groups, and reasons for leaving terrorist organizations (if at all terrorists do!). This, we believe is crucial, if a lasting solution is to be found.
Psychology is the study o how people think, feel and behave. Consequently, the Psychological Society of Kenya (PSK) in her effort to respond to the terrorism threat is organizing the 2016 Congress as part of the ongoing global effort to better understand the causes, motivations and determinants of terrorist behavior, in order to present an opportunity for analyzing the existing knowledge and understanding of terrorism; and in doing so, highlight the substantial shortcomings and limitations of the nature and direction of current responses while providing solutions that work, not only in Kenya but globally.
The 2016 Congress presents an opportunity for the involvement and engagement in terrorism by considering it as a process, thus exploring phases of the making of a terrorist, which according to Borum and others include becoming involved, remaining involved (or 'being' a terrorist), and leaving terrorism behind. By producing a clearer picture of the complex processes that impinge upon the individual terrorist, the 2016 congress hopes to present a clearer picture of this pandemic and hence the implications for efforts at countering terrorism in today's world. And it is for this reason that we invite the rest of the world to join us in finding a lasting solution to our world’s most runaway pandemic: terrorism & youth radicalization.
The congress offers a real opportunity to bring together academics, researchers, experts and higher education students of different disciplines, to discuss new issues, and discover the most recent developments and trends in the Psychology of terrorism. Specifically, the objectives of the 2016 Congress are to:
Enable participants to amass concrete data on the factors that lead some people to terrorism; and using those insights, develop ways to thwart terrorism and youth radicalization;
Highlight what both researchers and the broader community can and must do in order to realistically engage the terrorist threat.
The Congress programme features Five (5) plenary keynote addresses with focus on the Congress theme; Five (5) poster sessions, and Eighteen (18) scientific sessions each designed to address each of the congress topics as follows, during the week-long gathering of some of the world’s greatest and most fine minds in terrorism and youth radicalization:
Cyber Crime and terrorism
Law enforcement and counterterrorism policies
Adolescence and youth radicalization
Religion and terrorism
Perceived discrimination, unequal distribution of resources and opportunities