Statue at Vienna Central Cemetery

Eternal Life: what motivates terrorists?

Leigh Turner
Leigh Turner

What motivates terrorists?  What are their true goals ?  “Eternal Life” explains.

My satirical thriller Eternal Life explores what motivates terrorists.

What motivates terrorists?

What really makes terrorists get out of bed in the morning, assuming they have beds in the first place?  In another of my novels, Blood SummitI point to the importance of the Herostratus Syndrome, as explained in the excellent book by Antony Borowitz, “Terrorism for Self-Glorification: The Herostratus Syndrome”.  In the foreword I quote Mark Twain: “One of the commonest forms of madness is the desire to be noticed”.  I also quote Mark Chapman, the murderer of John Lennon: “I was an acute nobody… I was ‘Mr Nobody’ until I killed the biggest Somebody on earth.”

The Vienna Central Cemetery 

Part of Corona Crime is set in Vienna – Photo Leigh Turner

In the dystopic world of Eternal Life, terrorists are motivated by money and by the urge to show their lives havemeaning. In many cases, this is actually true. Read this excerpt from the book, in which heroes Jake and Sandy meets a member of terrorist group The One Life Army.

Eternal Life: an excerpt.  The One Life Army

‘We are not terrorists, or freedom fighters. We see ourselves more as a pressure group not afraid to apply real pressure.’

The woman in the white blouse and business suit sat opposite Jake and Sandy across a wooden table from which the scent of polish rose in the sunshine. She had introduced herself to Jake and Sandy as Jean Stays. She wore black-framed spectacles, like a banker. Only the camouflage-effect rubber bands securing her braids gave any hint of a more action-oriented persona.

‘If you’re not terrorists,’ Jake said, ‘why do you kill people?’

‘The One Life Army does not kill many people,’ Jean Stays said. ‘Hughes – not us. Central Authority Buildings – not us. But the Biotime Oppression is killing and enslaving whole nations. In the face of such evil, sometimes, we must kill too.’

‘Extreme suffering justifies extreme measures. I know the slogan.’ Sandy said. ‘Better be sure you’re right.’

‘We act only when we are sure. And even in these cases, we do not do any killing ourselves. We call in the professionals, like Mr Khan.’ Jean nodded at the bald man sitting next to her.

‘You contract out the killing?’ Jake said. ‘Can you do that?’

‘There is no correlation between expertise in seeking political change and expertise in killing people,’ Jean Stays said. ‘A political activist who kills is no longer a political activist. Same with politicians.’

‘Killing people my job,’ Khan said. ‘I am expert. And before anyone say it, no-one call me Genghis. That OK with you?’

‘It’s OK,’ Jake said. He moved a little closer to Sandy on the couch.

‘Everyone know how old-fashioned armies all collapse when Biotime make lives of soldiers too valuable to risk, and everyone refuse to fight. Result is, most wars stop. Job of killing put out to tender, supply meet demand.’ Khan fingered a furrow running down the centre of his bald skull. ‘Ancient history. Everyone crave security. Former soldiers need jobs. New system much better. Old-fashioned national armies kill only when war is happening. Sometimes so-called soldiers never kill anyone for years. Get sloppy. Get killed. New private fighters support any cause, fight any time, always killing. Result is top quality.’

‘Have you killed many people?’ Jake looked at the bald man’s hands.

‘Oh, yes. Have top-notch endorsements. Look.’ Khan placed a holo unit on the table and made to activate it.

‘I believe you.’

‘East Siberian Ecological Militia.’ Khan counted on his fingers. ‘West Australian Vietnamese Resistance. Welsh Provisional Government of Patagonia. Orissan Barefoot Army.’ He made to change hands.

‘How do you motivate yourselves to fight for so many different causes?’ Sandy said.

‘Profit motive strongest. Money.’

‘How do your customers know if you’re loyal?’

‘Good question.’ Khan nodded. ‘Loyalty cost extra fifty thousand bonus per fighter. We use money to buy additional insurance. It make dying for your cause more worthwhile.’

‘I’m shocked, I don’t mind saying,’ Sandy said. ‘I always figured the One Life Army was an actual, well…’

‘Army,’ Jake said.

‘Yeah. It turns out the OLA is a bunch of political activists who pay people to do their dirty work for them.’

‘This is true of every political movement or party,’ Jean Stays said. ‘Or perhaps you can cite cases of political leaders fighting in the front line of battle?’

Excerpt ends

What to do next

If you enjoyed this excerpt from Eternal Life, do check out my other writing including my blog post Eternal Life by Leigh Turner: an introduction


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