The act of genocide, the systematic annihilation of one group of people by another, is not a coincidence. The ones doing the killing have usually been prepared or incited by their leaders into committing an organized massacre.
Leaders may be political leaders of an entire country or leaders of a particular group. The focus of their message as leaders becomes explaining how their followers have been harmed or are endangered by the target population. As they present this message, they are constantly pointing out the increasing peril to their followers that is being created by the continued presence of those they consider to be a threat. Types of genocide, based on threats used as a basis for instigating genocide against another group include:
- cultural genocide, aiming at assimilation;
- latent genocide, a by-product of war;
- retributive genocide, localized punishment;
- utilitarian genocide, to obtain wealth;
- optimal genocide, aiming at total obliteration;
As the leaders of a country or group succeed in convincing their followers of the danger posed by those who are seen as different for some reason, they can convey the message that the only solution to the threat is to eliminate those causing the danger. Based on that interpretation of the situation and the imminent threat posed by it, leaders have been able to convince their followers that mass killings of those who oppose them are the best solution to the threat.