(/sites/default/files/uploads/2013/10/20130301_john_kerry_large_2013.jpg)Last Friday in New York, at a meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), Secretary of State John Kerry and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu launched what they called the “Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience,” which CNSNews.com said was intended to “support local communities and organizations to counter extremist ideology and promote tolerance.” It will do this essentially by giving potential jihad terrorists money and jobs – an initiative that proceeds from the false and oft-disproven assumption that poverty causes terrorism.
Kerry demonstrated his faith in this false assumption when he spoke about the importance of “providing more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of recruitment” into jihad groups. The GCTF is devoting $200 million to this project, which it calls “countering violent extremism” (CVE).
Kerry said this money would be used for “challenging the narrative of violence that is used to justify the slaughtering of innocent people.” But it doesn’t seem as if any significant amount of time or money will be devoted to any effort to convince young would-be jihadis that the al-Qaeda understanding of Islam is wrong, and that Islam is actually a Religion of Peace.
Rather, the GFCER of the CVE program of the GCTF bears more than just a passing resemblance to the WPA and the TVA and the rest of FDR’s alphabet soup of Depression-era recovery agencies. It is little more than a large-scale jobs program, as Kerry explained: “Getting this right isn’t just about taking terrorists off the street. It’s about providing more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of recruitment. In country after country, you look at the demographics – Egypt, the West Bank – 60 percent of the young people either under the age of 30 or under the age of 25, 50 percent under the age of 21, 40 percent under the age of 18, all of them wanting jobs, opportunity, education, and a future.”
This will be $200 million down the drain, for a lack of “economic opportunities for marginalized youth” doesn’t fuel Islamic jihad terrorism in the first place. Is it poverty and a lack of economic opportunities that leads the fantastically rich House of Saud to finance that jihad worldwide? If Kerry were correct and terrorism is simply a byproduct of poverty, why isn’t Haiti a terrorist state? Why isn’t the world plagued with Bolivian suicide bombers?
In reality, study after study has shown that jihadists are not poor and bereft of economic opportunities, but generally wealthier and better educated than their peers. CNS noted that “according to a Rand Corporation report on counterterrorism, prepared for the Office of the Secretary of Defense in 2009, ‘Terrorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated, or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds.’ One of the authors of the RAND report, Darcy Noricks, also found that according to a number of academic studies, ‘Terrorists turn out to be more rather than less educated than the general population.’”
But none of this has sunk in among the political elites. According to CNS, Illinois State Senator Barack Obama talked in October 2001 about “some of the root causes of this terrorist activity,” noting that “for nations like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, or much of the Middle East, young men have no opportunities. They see poverty all around them and they are angry by that poverty.”
In reality, as the Times Online reported as far back as April 2005, “three-quarters of the Al-Qaeda members were from upper middle-class homes and many were married with children; 60% were college educated, often in Europe or the United States.”
There are innumerable examples of affluent Muslims becoming jihad terrorists. One was Maher “Mike” Hawash of Portland, Oregon, a well-regarded Intel executive who made $360,000 a year at the crest of a highly successful career. Around the year 2000 Hawash began to become more religious, growing his beard long, rejecting the nickname “Mike,” and attending the supremacist Islamic Center of Portland. Ultimately he served a seven-year prison term for conspiring to aid the Taliban.
More recently, there was Sabirhan Hasanoff, a graduate of Baruch College who was a senior manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers and then CFO of a large company in Dubai. Hasanoff was sentenced last Monday to eighteen years in prison for aiding al-Qaeda. Contrite at his sentencing, Hasanoff didn’t say anything about lacking economic opportunities – on the contrary, he said: “I made a good living and my family and I enjoyed a very comfortable lifestyle. And then, for reasons that I still have trouble confronting, I threw that all away.”
Those reasons that he had trouble confronting, according to AP, were rooted in Islam: “Inspired by radical clerics, he said his desire to strengthen his Muslim faith and fight atrocities committed against Muslims around the world mixed with guilt about his comfortable life.”
That would suggest that this new initiative of the Global Fund for Community Engagement and Resilience is not only doomed to fail, as it obviously is, but that it could be actively counter-productive: what if one (or more) of the potential jihadis who find gainful employ thanks to John Kerry and Ahmet Davutoglu start to feel guilty about their “comfortable lifestyle,” and turn to jihad in order to compensate for it, as did Sabirhan Hasanoff?
One thing is certain: John Kerry and Ahmet Davutoglu will never consider that question, and no member of the mainstream media will ever ask them to. Another certainty is that jihad terrorism will continue despite this new financial windfall for young Muslim men, and given the way these throw-money-at-the-problem solutions have worked in the past (cf. the billions we gave the Pakistanis to fight al-Qaeda, that instead ended up in the hands of al-Qaeda), it is likely that some or most of this money will end up financing that jihad terror. One wonders how long this madness can go on without anyone in the loyal opposition in Washington ever getting the clue that it is time for some accountability.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.