The idea that poverty and ignorance cause terrorism has led the U.S. to shower billions on Muslim countries, hoping to win hearts and minds and alleviate what mainstream analysts doggedly believe are the root causes of terrorism. But it has been known for years that poverty doesn’t really cause terrorism at all. 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.
And here we go again.
“Islamic State recruits are above average when it comes to education, according to World Bank report,” AFP, October 6, 2016:
The data shows clearly, the report said, that “poverty is not a driver of radicalization into violent extremism”
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….