Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Myth of Disadvantaged Muslims Turning to Jihad

"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. Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population."
Darcy Noricks, Rand report

"The largest takeaway from these documents is the massive diversity of the population. We are talking an average age of around 26, 27 years old but we’re talking about everywhere from teenagers up until men in their 60s. We’re talking about very diverse backgrounds from an education perspective — individuals who list their education as none up to those who listed their educations as Ph.D's, Masters degrees, MBAs … Everything from laborers to doctors and lawyers."
"They were from all over the world and the individuals had traveled all over the world. I wouldn’t say a majority of them, but a good number of them were heavily traveled. One individual said he had been to 38 countries around the world. So some of them certainly have international experience and significant experience moving throughout the region and throughout the world."
Brian Dodwell, deputy director, Combating Terrorism Center, West Point
From a virtual treasure trove of data released to NBC News and a British media outlet, fascinating revelations have stamped the lie to those on the left who relish offering their opinion that under-privilege and the domination of the West over the poor trembling masses of believers in Islam have reduced them to the plight of having to live trampled lives or to choose to self-recruit into the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

That trove of documents represented a coup of data, ISIS documents in the possession of a Syrian  claiming he had taken the initiative to abscond with the data which he stored on a flash drive, after he had surreptitiously taken possession of it from a senior ISIS commander while the man was in a position of trust within the Islamic State as an administrative functionary. From that data a picture emerged of typical candidates for ISIL jihadi membership. And it is now abundantly clear there is no "typical".

Every one of those who had been recruited or who had voluntarily offered their jihadist services to ISIL was given a form to fill out, asking whether he was interested in being a jihadi fighter or becoming a suicide bomber or suicide fighter -- fine distinction that -- where it was ascertained that from the faithful jihadis twelve percent only chose to tick off the martyrdom-selection box. Whereas it was known that those who had joined al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2006 and 2007, it was fully half who volunteered to blast themselves into Paradise.

"While they do need some suicide bombers, if all of their troops selected into the suicide category who would be left to fill that conventional army? Who would be left to serve as the Sharia officials, the police or the administrative?" asked analysts examining the data and extrapolating from what they weighed would be the consequences of a wholesale leap to martyrdom in the name of blessed jihad. Simply the reality of a practical view of achieving ultimate success; some chose life, the life of a violent militant, while others chose the heroic celebratory martyrdom.

Islamic State27

Of those whose records were probed in this wholesale investigation into the value of the records, a third attended high school while a quarter of the recruits achieved a college education. Leaving a mere 17 percent whose academic investment was halted after elementary or middle school. The entire level of education achieved was in contrast to the far lower average representing many of the countries those recruits hailed from.

The realization was that there was no "typical" in the typical recruit. Nothing unified them, not their backgrounds, their achievements in the social sphere, their education level, their occupations, their age, nor their family status. All job sectors were represented from beekeeper, perfume salesman, airline steward, Saudi intelligence worker, soldier in the Tunisian army. One recruit indicated he was involved in "counter-narcotics" and another that he was a hashish dealer.

Represented were 700 laborers, approximately ten times the number of teachers among them, IT employees, or those in the military or police. The vast majority of the recruits filling out those forms had employment before they travelled to join ISIL. Only 255 said they were jobless. Another group representing 656 students had yet to enter the labor force. Saudi Arabia represented 797 of those fighter-recruits, Tunisia 640, and Morocco 260. They emerged from everywhere in the world; China, Australia, Belgium, France.

Fully ten percent of the international recruits came from Western nations, where the United Kingdom involuntarily sent 57 of their citizens, the United States 14. While France was responsible for 128 and Germany 80 new recruits for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. What the parsing of the data did reveal, however, is the varied nature of those recruits responding to ISIL's appeal for new blood. And that poverty and claims to having been victims of Islamophobia played no part in the self-selection process.

Oh yes, of course, there was none unifying feature; they were all typical in the sense that they subscribed to the major tenets of Islam, of which jihad is the feature standout.

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