Meanwhile, Western governments are throwing huge amounts of money at the idea that Islamic State jihadis are poor and uneducated. They are financing jobs programs for young Muslims and building schools in jihad-saturated Muslim countries such as Afghanistan. This study shows why such efforts are foredoomed.
“New report shows the real face of Islamic State terror converts,” by John Stapleton, The New Daily, February 10, 2017:
Solidly middle-class, better educated than average, likely to be in a stable relationship and either studying or employed: that’s the face of an Islamic State convert.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute recently released a report titled The American Face of ISIS, which it commissioned in the hope of better understanding terror converts in Australia.
The larger number of converts in America charged with an Islamic State-related incident or travelling to the Middle East in order to fight with the terrorist group provided more statistical certainty than could be achieved using Australian data only. The report is to be followed with a study of the societal traits of Australians charged with terror-related incidents.
The evidence roundly contradicts Australian government messaging on Countering Violent Extremism which has painted converts to Islamic State as impoverished, lonely outsiders with little education and low job prospects.
The study examined 112 cases of individuals who perpetrated ISIS-related offences. The majority were US citizens.
The report found that Islamic State videos, well known for their high production values and cinematic qualities, played a central role in radicalisation and all offenders were likely to have watched execution videos, including the infamous burning alive of a Jordanian pilot.
The ultra-violence of the videos, including crucifixions, stonings, graphic beheadings and ritualised mass shootings, attracted recruits worldwide.
Walker Gunning, the executive director of the Chicago Project on Security and Threats which conducted the research, told The New Daily those charged with terrorist activities looked much like average Americans, including frequently having spouses and families.
The research confirms the Australian experience: 18-year-old suicide bomber Jake Bilardi left behind a blog showing him to be thoughtful and highly intelligent; the 17-year-old son of a doctor was among an affluent group of teens arrested in 2015 for plotting a Mother’s Day massacre.
“While it is common to claim that terrorists are societal outcasts, we didn’t find that to be the case,” Mr Gunning said. “This information is important because without knowing who is attracted to ISIS, the US or Australian governments cannot effectively craft counter-messages.
“Stopping online propaganda represents an unprecedented challenge for law enforcement. Whereas before, Al-Qaeda had to recruit members face to face, American ISIS supporters are self-radicalising through viewing videos in the privacy of their own homes, sometimes with small groups of friends or family.”…