03.28.2016 12:07 PM

Who is going to be a terrorist?

The New York Times, here, attempts to answer that question, and comes up short, I think. 

I have made a few attempts at doing likewise – as here – and I always find myself turning back to demographic profiling (as I learned in politics) and youth subcultures (as I learned in punk rock). Ipso facto, the things which the radicalized share is that they are almost always:

  • male
  • young (teens to early thirties)
  • unsuccessful (at love or life)
  • unemployed (often after post-secondary study)
  • angry (at everything and everyone)
  • alienated from family (who often have lost contact)
  • involved in petty crime

From skinheads to jihadists, they become incandescent balls of rage. They are looking for a replacement family, a new beliefs system, a sense of belonging, a higher calling, a culture that rejects the popular culture, a new religion, even a uniform to wear. And along come manipulative older men, practiced in deception, who give them all those things. They give them a manifesto of hate. 

Want to stop terror and extremism? Create a society where these angry young men get hope, where they get support, where they get jobs. Where they get a sense of purpose. 

Desperate young men do desperate things, as we are now seeing almost every single day. We need to get to them before the haters do. 


  1. I completely agree with you and here’s why it’s not going to happen: nobody wants to talk about men. Men’s issues are seen as anti-feminist, etc. Men don’t want to talk about men. Men don’t want to talk about anything.

  2. Art says:

    Of course you are talking about root causes. Not high our the priority list of our Conservative brethren.

  3. patrick says:

    You are forgetting ego. It’s not just personal failure but personal failure along with a delusion of grandeur, a sense that they are meant for greater things. Further, that they are so much smarter than everyone, again something that no one around them recognizes or acknowledges, that they are following a cause, Jihad, cult, evangelicals, Leaf fan, that is beyond anyone around them. A true testament to their unhearalded greatness.
    These saps are fodder for for those after power, wealth and sex.
    Really there isn’t a lot of them, but they are useful and horribly effective.

  4. davie says:

    I have another possibility:

    Grew up in strictly sectarian Middle East Kingdom.
    At 20, went to Hamburg to take a secular technical education
    Attended meetings and became convinced to deepen their hom,alnd faith to the extent they would commit suicide for that faith
    traveled to USA to take a few flying lessons in piper cubs
    before stealing giant passenger jets that they would fly with the precision of a top aircraft pilot went to a cocktail lounge to drink alcohol and talk about their coming crimes

    This should make it easy for anyone to identify who will be a terrorist. It is a useful addition to the list in the article , which merely describes several of guys who enlist in any gang, military or mercenary organization anywhere.

  5. Ridiculosity says:

    Male young (teens to early thirties)

    Unsuccessful (at love or life)

    Unemployed (often after post-secondary study)

    Angry (at everything and everyone)

    Alienated from family (who often have lost contact)

    Involved in petty crime

    Terrorists? On the contrary…

    From what I’ve observed, you’ve just described the average North American male under the age of thirty-five.

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