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Psychological insights into Indonesian Islamic terrorism: The what, the how and the why of violent extremism


Correspondence: Arie W. Kruglanski, Department of Psychology, University of Maryland, College Park 20742, MD, USA. Email:


The three articles in this special section of the Asian Journal of Social Psychology illuminate several aspects of the psychology of Islamist Indonesian terrorists. This analysis partitions these into the contents (the what) of the terrorists' belief system, the motivational underpinnings (the why) of these beliefs, and the social process (the how), whereby motivational concerns are translated into ideological beliefs that, under conditions of utter commitment to ideological dictates, foster violent action. This discussion addresses the universal process of radicalization exemplified in the Indonesian case, and the unique ways in which it is manifested in this particular context.