Here’s some quotes from The Rebel by Albert Camus (pg. 134-139, Penguin Books, 1975) which tries to explain Russian terrorism in the late 19th century. However, I was amazed to find it incredibly relevant, in offering at least a framework to explain motivations of terrorism today.

“The terrorists undoubtedly want first of all to destroy – to make absolutism totter under the shock of exploding bombs. But by their death, at any rate, they aim at recreating a community founded on love and justice, and thus to resume a mission which the Church has betrayed. The terrorists’ real mission is to create a Church from whence will one day spring the new God….For them [the extremists], as for all rebels before them, murder was identified with suicide. A life is paid for by another life, and from these two sacrifices springs the promise of value….Other men to come consumed with the same devouring faith as these, will find their methods sentimental and refuse to admit that any one life is the equivalent of another. They will then put an abstract idea above human life, even if they call it history, to which they themselves have submitted in advance and to which they will decide, quite arbitrarily, to submit everyone else as well….Confronted with the possibility that the idea may be realized in the future, human life can be everything or nothing. The greater the faith that the estimate places in this final realization, the less the value of human life. At the ultimate limit, it is no longer worth anything at all….In the midst of a world which they deny and which rejects them, they try, one after another, like all courageous men, to reconstruct a brotherhood of man. The love they bear for one another which brings them happiness even in the desert of a prison, which extends to the great mass of their enslaved and silent fellow-men, gives the measure of their distress and of their hopes. To realize this love, they must first kill; to inaugurate the reign of innocence, they must accept a certain degree of culpability.”

Let me know what you think.