What factors explain terrorist organizations transitioning from targeting the near-enemy to targeting the far-enemy while maintaining the same ideological fervor?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I thnk that one particular condition that Wright points out in the shift from the near enemy to the far one is the idea of materialism and material wealth.  Wright opens his work with the idea that the premise of Islamic Terrorist organizations is rooted in the idea that traditional Islam is fundamentally incompatible with materialism.  As capitalism and globalization takes a more dominant role in the world paradigm and pattern of recognition, it becomes much easier for the Islamic Terrorist organization to focus on this condition as its fundamental enemy.  On one hand, the organization can define itself as "the other" being marginalized by the growth of globalization and materialism.  There is no real dialogue, no real substantive and complex analysis, that forces a sense of workability between terrorist organizations and the global marketplace.  In transitioning to this force as the far- enemy, the terrorist organization always has a ready- made and convenient enemy.  In another respect, the condition of materialism and its countervailing force of lack of economic opportunity helps to increase recruitment into the terrorist organization.  Terrorist organizations offer a sense of belonging to people who have been fundamentally displaced.  They appeal to individuals who find themselves on the lower rungs of the materialist orders.  The terrorist organization can provide belonging and collective identity to individuals who lack such elements, often resulting as the "downside" to globalization and materialism, or capitalism,  in general.  Through its shift in focus from the near to the far enemy, the terrorist organization's reach has increased and, in doing so, its own sustainability has been enhanced.


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