Photo Credit: Lori Lowenthal Marcus
London, England

Originally published at The Investigative Project on Terrorism.  /  Steve Emerson

A British research study of Muslim radicalization is challenging some key conventional wisdom. It identifies “youth, wealth, and being in full-time education” as potential risk factors.

Advertisement

Less than 3 percent of the 600 British Muslims surveyed by London’s Queen Mary University were sympathetic with terrorism, while another 6 percent “remained neutral.”

But those with the highest sympathy were respondents born in the United Kingdom, under age 20 and full time students. In addition, people from high income homes – more than £75,000 a year ($123,000) were more prone to sympathize with political violence. People with mental health problems also were more likely to support terror.

This contradicts an accepted narrative that economic frustration and a lack of education fueled Islamic extremism.

“We were surprised that [the] inequality paradigm seems not to be supported,” lead researcher Kamaldeep Bhui told Al-Jazeera. “The study essentially seemed to show that those born in the U.K. consistent with the radicalization paradigm are actually more affluent or well off.”

The study does not identify “what factors make potential recruits open to persuasion to join a terrorist movement,” said Bhui, a professor of cultural psychiatry and epidemiology. He hopes the survey can be used to identify vulnerable populations and “work to shift them and hopefully reduce” radicalization.

The findings are significant, if only for the strict academic approach taken by Bhui and her team. And it might be refreshing and enlightening to see similar academic pursuit in the United States to help identify risk factors and gateways to radicalization. A 2007 Pew survey found a quarter of Muslim American men under age 30 considered suicide bombings justifiable.

This month alone, young men from California and Michigan were arrested for plotting to join terrorists fighting in Syria’s civil war.

But the notion that affluent, well-educated Muslims are potentially more likely to become radicals is a surprise, ignores years of anecdotal evidence.

Terrorist groups from Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida all are led by men with advanced degrees. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were college educated and middle class – with eight engineers among them – and the worst terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11 was carried out by an Army psychiatrist.

Advertisement

12 COMMENTS

  1. It is not only Britain. We all need to wake up before it is too late. Islam is NOT a religion. It is a way of life encompassing your entire soul. When a "religion" can compel fathers and mothers to slaughter their own children in "honor killings" in the name of their prophet, it is more of a horror story than anything Hollywood could contrive.

  2. These young and rich are more likely to support and pay for it. They are highly unlikely to strap on a web belt of C4 and a detonator. As always, the rich want to talk loudly, but are plenty willing to let the poor continue to do their dying for them. This is endemic to all cultures, religions, and nations. Never trust anyone with a mouth full of words and a bag full of gold. They do not have your best interests in mind, only their own. Hashem has turned his back on the lot of them.

Loading Facebook Comments ...