Jobs for Terrorists? Terrorists Come from Privileged Backgrounds Already
Obama's pledge to throw money at a band-aid that doesn't fit will do nothing to stop the increase in brutal killings by terrorists.
Obama’s State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf raised some eyebrows earlier this week when she said the U.S. should combat terrorism by getting to the root of the problem, which includes a “lack of opportunity for jobs.” Despite the outcry over her remarks, Obama reiterated her position in a speech on countering violent extremism later in the week.
He pledged that “the United States will make new commitments to help young people, including in Muslim communities, to forge new collaborations in entrepreneurship and science and technology.” Obama went on to explain that “impoverished communities” lead to instability and frustration, causing young men to turn to terrorism.
There is one glaring problem with Obama’s theory. Islamic terrorists tend to come from wealthy, privileged backgrounds, not poverty.
According to scholar Scott Atran, a research director in Paris who is part of a NATO group studying suicide terrorism, there is no link between poverty and terrorism. Forensic psychiatrist and former foreign service officer Marc Sageman studied 172 participants in jihad for his book, Understanding Terror Networks, and came to the same conclusion. Princeton economist Claude Berrebi found that members of Palestinian terrorist organizations were frequently better educated and better off economically than the Palestinian Arab population as a whole.
Islamic terrorists tend to come from cosmopolitan backgrounds, are fluent in multiple languages and have advanced computer skills. Their privileged status enables them to accomplish such horrific acts undercover, often without being detected.
Osama bin Laden was the son of a billionaire construction magnate, who had close ties to the Saudi royal family. The younger bin Laden inherited $25–30 million of his family’s wealth. He studied economics and business administration at King Abdulaziz University.
Bin Laden’s top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who replaced him as the leader of al Qaeda, came from wealthy Egyptian parents. His father was a surgeon and medical professor, and his mother came from a politically active, financially successful clan. Al-Zawahiri also became a surgeon, even obtaining a master’s degree in surgery.
The leader of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mohammad Atta, studied architecture in Cairo, Egypt, then entered an urban planning graduate program at the Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg in Germany. His father was a lawyer and his mother came from a wealthy farming and trading family.
The “underwear bomber,” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, is the son of a wealthy Nigerian banker and businessman. His father was the chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and has been described by the UK paper The Times as “one of the richest men in Africa.” Umar studied at several universities, including University College London, where he studied Engineering and Business Finance and earned a degree in mechanical engineering.
One of the 2005 London bombers left an estate valued at over $150,000. Dawood Ibrahim, who coordinated the 1993 Mumbai bombings, is worth somewhere between $6 and $20 billion. Ibrahim despised his father’s successful banking profession, condemning it as “immoral” and “un-Islamic” for charging interest, and urged him to quit.
In a similar vein, Atran found in his research that “personal humiliation, such as that suffered daily by Palestinians at Israeli checkpoints, in fact decreases the likelihood that any individual will act violently.”
With all the information out there about how privileged most Islamic terrorists are, it is a little surreal the president would suggest a jobs program for them. These ringleaders are, by and large, fabulously wealthy, and they have passed over jobs that would be the envy of most in preference for another they find far more engaging — conquering the world. Political correctness and warmed over liberal bromides are hardly the tools for such an enemy.