Its roots, dynamics and occurrence have been the subject of countless debates and contentions from scholars in various fields of human knowledge. All of them strive to uncover why an individual would strap onto himself an explosive and detonate it in places full of bystanders. Each field tries to understand how an ordinary student ends up planning and carrying out a kidnapping for political ends. Scholars explore the reason behind why groups of individuals have so much contempt for a state or group of states. Experts analyze the basis of the various doctrines of hate and malevolence against a particular class of people or a sector in society.
Despite all these efforts and undertakings to that dissect and formally study terrorism it is not common that it be understood from the standpoint of social psychology. By rationalizing the phenomenon of terrorism within the framework of the workings of the human mind new insight may be derived about it.
Psychology in general has delved into terrorism before not in the specific context of Social Psychology. The latter would present a new perspective as to the understanding and analysis of terrorism, its participants, their beliefs and psychological dimension of the same.
For the purposes of this paper the concept of terrorism which will be explored will involve terrorism carried out by terrorist groups such as Al –qaeda, Jemaah Islamiya and Hezbollah. This is distinct and separate from state sponsored terrorism as in the case of the Third Reich under Hitler and the former U.S.S.R. under Stalin.
The usual definition of terrorism is something like "the use or threat of violence, by small groups against non-combatants of large groups, for avowed political goals." The key to this definition is the combination of small groups killing non-combatants. Terrorism is the warfare of the weak, the recourse of those desperate for a cause that cannot win by conventional means McCauley (n.d.).