In Time, Ayaan Hirsi Ali advises that, from the White House on down, U.S. policy makers come to grips with the reality that Muslims who become jihadis don’t necessarily do so because they’re victims of poverty, bad education, or bad governance.
President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have argued in recent days that economic grievances, a lack of opportunities, and countries with “bad governance” are to blame for the success of groups such as ISIS in recruiting Muslims to their cause.
But Hirsi Ali points out that there are plenty of countries where those conditions are all but absent, and they still have to contend with homegrown jihadists.
Both Denmark and the Netherlands have “good governance.” Denmark and the Netherlands not only offer free health insurance but also free housing to Muslim refugees, along with high-quality education for their children. This should produce an outpouring of gratitude by young Muslims towards the host society, and no Jihadists.
Yet there are dozens of Jihadists hailing from the Netherlands, and a recent attack in Copenhagen was committed by a man who was raised in Denmark and had effectively enjoyed years of Danish hospitality.
The question is not limited to Europe. Minnesota, for instance, is hardly a state with “bad governance.” Minnesota offers ample opportunity for immigrants willing to work hard. Yet more than a dozen young men from the Twin Cities area have joined the Jihadist movement in recent years.
I have been arguing the same thing for years (since long before ISIS arrived on the scene), based on the observable fact that jihadists — both leaders and foot soldiers — include lots of well-educated, often middle-class young men with degrees and/or bright prospects, such as Faisal Shahzad, Anwar-al-Awlaki, Nidal Malik Hasan, Mohamed Atta, Ziad Jarrah, Abu Hamza al-Masri, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and, most famously, Osama bin Laden, who was born into wealth and privilege.