Poverty driving Syrian men and boys into the arms of ISIS

The Guardian reports: Poverty, desperation and the desire for revenge are the key factors pushing young Syrians to join Isis and other extremist groups – and are more significant than ideological or religious motivation, according to research by a peace-building group.

Adolescent boys and young men between the ages of 12 and 24 were found to be most at risk, along with children and young adults not in education, internally displaced people and refugees without supportive family structures.

Interviews with more than 300 young Syrians – in Syria, Lebanon and Turkey – point to factors of both vulnerability and resilience to recruitment by Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate), which are both proscribed as terrorist organisations by the UN.

“Radicalisation is not an explanation for joining a violent extremist group per se,” said the study by International Alert (pdf). “For many young Syrians, belief in extreme ideologies appears to be, at most, a secondary factor in the initial decision to join an extremist group. Religion is providing a moral medium for coping and justification for fighting, rather than a basis for rigid and extreme ideologies.” [Continue reading…]

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