David Brooks has an interesting article looking at who is becoming terrorists.
We have learned a lot about the jihadists, from Osama bin Laden down to the Europeans who attacked the London subways last month. We know, thanks to a database gathered by Marc Sageman, formerly of the C.I.A., that about 75 percent of anti-Western terrorists come from middle-class or upper-middle-class homes. An amazing 65 percent have gone to college, and three-quarters have professional or semiprofessional jobs, particularly in engineering and science.Not the standard Madras educated, living in the Middle East oppressive regimes that we have come to take to think of as the source of terrorists. I think Brooks is right on with how we fight against it too.
Whether they have moved to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, England or France, these men are, far from being medieval, drawn from the ranks of the educated, the mobile and the multilingual.
They have sought instead some utopian cause to give them an identity and their lives meaning. They find that cause in a brand of Salafism that is not traditional Islam but a modern fantasy version of it, an invented tradition. They give up cricket and medical school and take up jihad.
In other words, the conflict between the jihadists and the West is a conflict within the modern, globalized world. The extremists are the sort of utopian rebels modern societies have long produced.
The first implication, clearly, is that democratizing the Middle East, while worthy in itself, may not stem terrorism. Terrorists are bred in London and Paris as much as anywhere else.Via New York Times
Second, the jihadists' weakness is that they do not spring organically from the Arab or Muslim world. They claim to speak for the Muslim masses, as earlier radicals claimed to speak for the proletariat. But they don't. Surely a key goal for U.S. policy should be to isolate the nationalists from the jihadists.
Third, terrorism is an immigration problem. Terrorists are spawned when educated, successful Muslims still have trouble sinking roots into their adopted homelands. Countries that do not encourage assimilation are not only causing themselves trouble, but endangering others around the world as well.