A new study released by the World Bank on Thursday has found that foreign recruits of the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) terrorist group are generally more educated than members who are born in the region.
The study, entitled “Economic and Social Inclusion to Prevent Violent Extremism,” surprisingly showed that those volunteering to be suicide bombers tended to be in the more educated group.
The study focused chiefly on the socioeconomic factors that influence people to join the extremists. The study found that, contrary to widely-held belief, “poverty is not a driver of radicalization into violent extremism.”
Whether from the Middle East, Africa or Europe, recruits from abroad tended to have several more years of education than violent extremists in their home countries. This was true almost without exception.
“An important finding is that these individuals are far from being uneducated or illiterate. Most claim to have attended secondary school and a large fraction have gone on to study at university,” the report stated.
It also said that ISIL “did not recruit its foreign workforce among the poor and less educated, but rather the opposite. Instead, the lack of economic inclusion seems to explain the extent of radicalization into violent extremism.” Researchers noted that Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey were the top five suppliers of new recruits to the terrorists.
A leaked ISIL database, combined with data pulled from the World Values Survey and Gallup World Poll, gives insight on the citizenship, age, education status, religious knowledge and country of origin for recruits, as well as whether they had previous experience in jihadist activities.
The report concluded that “factors most strongly associated with foreign individuals’ joining ISIL have to do with a lack of economic and social inclusion in their country of residence. Promoting greater inclusion, therefore, could not only bring down the level of violent extremism, but could improve economic performance in the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region.”