What is the driving force behind Jihadist terrorism?

In this article, (link below) Olivier Roy identifies the patterns of radicalism which have led to terrorism. He describes these patterns

  • Frustration and resentment against society seems to be the only psychological trait they share.
  • The majority of the radicals come from second generation Muslims born in Europe
  • Many have histories of petty delinquency and drug-dealing.
  • It is clearly a youth movement.
  • Very few of them have a history of militancy, either political or religious.
  • There is an unusually high proportion of converts.
  • The more recent pattern is the recruitment of young women to marry jihadists.
  • The main motivation of young men joining jihad seems to be the fascination for a narrative.
  • The revolt is expressed in religious terms.
  • Radicals have a loose or no connection with the Muslim communities in Europe.

Olivier Roy suggests that the aim of policies should be to accentuate the estrangement of radicals from the Muslim population and to dry up the narrative of Islam as the religion of the oppressed.

I first saw this article reproduced in ‘Inside Story’ on 18 December 2015.



John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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