The Roots of Terrorism
Monday, September 28, 2009
This is an extract from an article in the Jakarta Globe, which takes an informed look at the roots of terrorism. The whole article can be found here: The Roots of Terrorism by: Rivandra Royono:
Quote: When it comes to identifying the root cause of terrorism, many are compelled to point fingers at poverty and lack of education. The argument, in a nutshell, goes as follows: Poor, uneducated people are easily lured with promises of heaven and can be convinced to blow up other people in order to attain it.
However, the idea does not stand its ground when confronted with facts. Marc Sageman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute compiled background data of about 400 Al Qaeda members and discovered that three-quarters belonged to the middle or upper class. He further noted that the “vast majority — 90 percent — came from caring, intact families. Sixty-three percent had gone to college, as compared with the 5 to 6 percent that’s usual for the third world. These are the best and brightest of their societies in many ways.”
Economists Efraim Benmelech of Harvard University and Claude Berrebi of the RAND Corporation also came to the same conclusion when they gathered data on Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel from 2000 to 2005. They discovered that education is very much valued in the “terrorism market.” Better educated individuals are more likely to be successful in carrying out large-scale terrorist attacks and have lower chances of getting caught.
It should also be noted that the alleged leader of the 9/11 attacks, Mohammed Atta, had a graduate degree, while both Azahari and Noordin M Top, the masterminds of most of the major terrorist attacks over the last decade in Indonesia, were skilled engineers and scientists. None of them were poor; all three came from affluent families. Unquote.
I would add to the article only that Wahabbism is also not necessarily a terrorist tool and the grounding of all terrorist ideolgy. The extreme conservative forms of Islam, and there are others as conservative as Wahhabism, are not followed exclusively by terrorists. Many ordinary but conservative people follow a strict Islamic code, as do Evangelical Christians follow their's. Neither sees blowing people up as part of their religious reality.
Mohammad Atta the leader of the 9/11 hijackers was a near alcoholic. The rest of the hijackers were inclined to go to nightclubs, drink and use prostitutes. The 7/7 bombers were disturbingly ordinary members of their societies.
The profiling of terror and of terrorists is about as hard to model as Climate Change, Human Demographics and Plate Tectonics!
Rivandra Royono is the executive director of the Association for Critical Thinking and a consultant for the World Bank in Jakarta.
Posted by Duckham at 5:43 PM
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