As the narrative has it, the millions of poor, unemployed youths living in camps and peripheries worldwide are a fertile recruiting ground for militant ideologues seeking manpower. But that narrative may need debunking — with new research suggesting that anger, more than hunger, is to blame.
The radicalization of marginalized youths, who have been enlisted globally — from Afghanistan and Colombia to the suburbs of Paris and Minneapolis — is at the forefront of the national security agenda for many countries.
On Wednesday, US officials will sit down in Washington to discuss once again how to counter the effective recruiting strategies of militant groups around the world — tackling challenges like winning the narrative war on social media and building partnerships with religious leaders — as part of the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.
But a report released today by global aid agency Mercy Corps suggests that governments and analysts still understand little about what exactly drives the world’s youth to join armed insurgencies and terrorist groups. It also indicates that more than poverty and unemployment, it’s the experience of injustice that triggers the decision for many, coupled with exposure to corruption, humiliation, and violence.