Date of Award

Spring 6-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice



First Advisor or Mentor

Heath Grant

Second Reader

Maria Haberfeld

Third Advisor

Jeffery Mellow


This exploratory study focuses on identifying motivations for religious terrorism and Islamic terrorism in the United States in particular. Terrorism is a crime of extreme violence with the end purpose of political influence. This crime is challenging to encounter for its multi-faced characteristics, the unusual motivations of its actors, and their semi-militant conduct. The hypothesis of this study asserts that religious terrorists are radicalized by passing from fundamental to extreme devout agendas, caused by isolation from the dominant society, and resulted in high potential to impose those agendas by extreme violence. Under the theoretical framework of subculture in criminology, this study measures how religious fundamentalism is associated with social isolation of Muslims in the United States. The findings of this study show a significant relation between religious fundamentalism and social isolationism. Using a secondary dataset from the DAAS 2003 survey, it is found out that 45% of Muslim males’ social isolationism in the U.S. can be predicted by the level of their religious fundamentalism. Indicators such as ‘Dawah’ (Islamic identity and missionary), piety, culture, country of origin, and strain are among the most significant predictors of social isolationism. Furthermore, the Islamic terror incidents in the U.S. are relatively low compared with other western countries (i.e. Europe and Israel). That is an indication that the mild social isolation and positive assimilation of Muslims, despite 9/11, serve as a defense mechanism against extremization.



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