Islamic State recruits are above average when it comes to education, according to World Bank report

The idea that poverty and ignorance cause terrorism is deeply held by mainstream analysts of Bharat, who create our security & defense policy. This idea has subsequently taken effective root in public opinion as well, which has resulted in ill-directed counter-terror moves and the silent, unchecked mushrooming of dangerous Salafi-Wahabbi schools of Islamic thought across Bharat.

Now, a recent World Bank study shows that ““poverty is not a driver of radicalization into violent extremism”. Quoting from this article

Recruits to Islamic State (IS) are better educated than their average countryman, contrary to popular belief, according to a new World Bank study.

Moreover, those offering to become suicide bombers ranked on average in the more educated group, said the newly released study titled “Economic and Social Inclusion to Prevent Violent Extremism”.

The study, which aimed to identify socioeconomic traits that might explain why some are drawn to the Syria-based extremist group, made clear that poverty and deprivation were not at the root of support for the group.

Almost without exception, fighters joining IS’s Syria and Iraq-based forces had several more years of education in their home countries – whether in Europe, Africa or elsewhere in the Middle East – than the average citizen. The data shows clearly, the report said, that “poverty is not a driver of radicalization into violent extremism”.

Out of 331 recruits described in a leaked IS database, only 17 per cent did not finish high school, while a quarter had university-level educations. Only those from Eastern Europe were below the average, and only marginally so, according to the study.

Foreign recruits from the Middle East, North Africa and South and East Asia are significantly more educated than what is typical in their region,” the Bank report said.

About 30 per cent of the recruits told the extremist group what positions in the force they wanted. About one in nine volunteered for suicide operations, and their educational levels were on par with those who sought to be administrators, the report said.

“The proportions of administrators but also of suicide fighters increase with education,” it said.

Most of the 331 recruits also reported having a job before travelling to join IS, also known as Daesh, according to the study.

However, it noted that a significant number of those choosing “suicide fighter” as their preferred option when enlisting said that they had not been employed back in their home country, or that they were in the military before joining the group.

“An important finding is that these individuals are far from being uneducated or illiterate. Most claim to have attended secondary school and a large fraction have gone on to study at university,” the report said.

“We find that Daesh did not recruit its foreign workforce among the poor and less educated, but rather the opposite. Instead, the lack of economic inclusion seems to explain the extent of radicalization into violent extremism.”

This article provides links to several other studies which bust the myth that poverty causes terrorism. The Economist reported in 2010:

Social scientists have collected a large amount of data on the socioeconomic background of terrorists. According to a 2008 survey of such studies by Alan Krueger of Princeton University, they have found little evidence that the typical terrorist is unusually poor or badly schooled.

In the same vein, CNS News noted in September 2013:

According to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, “Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.” One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, “Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.”

The Times Online reported the following as far back as April 2005:

Three-quarters of the Al-Qaeda members were from upper middle-class homes and many were married with children; 60% were college educated, often in Europe or the United States.

Several Islamic State terrorist, supporters and recruiters have been arrested across Bharat in the last few years – they include software engineers, MBAs, graphic designers, college graduates and engineering students. Even the trouble in Kashmir valley has now been thoroughly exposed as naked jihad.

Such factual studies by unbiased parties are urgently needed to deal with the deep-rooted menace of Islamic separatism and intolerance that keeps erupting in Bharat from time to time as communal riots, blasts etc.


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