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VOL. XVII, Issue 1

Why Terrorism Researchers Should Care about Criminal Responsibility

Criminal responsibility is a basic principle in holding individuals to account for criminal actions. Making exemptions to criminal responsibility when individuals cannot be held responsible for their actions is equally central, and most countries have frameworks allowing for such exemptions for reasons of serious mental health problems. However, despite the recent years’ enormous interests in the possible links between individual ‘mental health’ and involvement in terrorism, the issue of criminal responsibility has apparently so far not been the subject of much interest in the field of terrorism research. This Research Note makes the simple point that criminal responsibility should be of particular interest to terrorism researchers, for two main reasons: the centrality of (political, religious, ideological) motivations for defining a crime as terrorism-related and the sometimes-difficult boundary-setting between such motivations and (psychotic) delusions; and the political nature of terrorism-related crimes. 

About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…