BY RYAN MAURO:
A new study by Queen Mary University of London concludes that there is not a strong link between terrorism and poverty, lack of education or mental instability. In fact, terrorists are more likely to be highly educated and financially secure. The survey adds to the mountain of proof that violent radicals, especially Islamist ones, are motivated by an ideology that is not born out of inequality.
The study strikes at the heart of the debate about Islamist terrorism.
One camp sees the root cause as a mixture of inequality, desperation and anger over Western foreign policy. This camp usually legitimizes some of the Islamist causes while condemning their methods. Both Presidents Obama and Bush were influenced by this camp.
While President Bush said that Islamic extremists were opposed to Western freedoms, he also said in 2002, “We fight poverty because hope is an answer to terror.” In 2005, Bush said that alleviating poverty will “strike a blow against the terrorists who feed on anger and resentment.” Like his successor, he did not usually use terms like “Islamist” to identify the ideology.
Similarly, President Obama said in this year’s State of the Union address that U.S. military deployments “may ultimately feed extremism.” In 2008, he said as a candidate that the U.S. needs to convince Hamas and Hezbollah that violence “weakens their legitimate claims.” In January, Secretary of State John Kerry said“this issue of poverty, which in many cases is the root cause of terrorism…”
A great example of this mindset affecting policy is the Obama Administration’s long-delayed decision to label Boko Haram, a Nigerian affiliate of Al-Qaeda, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. Heincorrectly stated the group is an example of what happens when “countries are not delivering for their people and where there sources of conflict and underlining frustrations that have not been adequately dealt with.”
The Queen Mary University study boosts the standing of the second camp. This one blames the Islamist ideology, arguing that its outlook on the world cultivates those political grievances. After all, the natural response to U.S. troops in Afghanistan (where they protect Muslims) is not to institute Sharia governance, engage in violent jihad and perpetrate human rights abuses. Those are symptoms of Islamism, not anything the West did.
Read more at Clarion Project