Jihadists motivated by religion!
John Geddes, writing for the Canadian magazine Macleans (August 15, 2016), asks "What motivates a Canadian jihadist?" and finds that "A study stresses real religious zeal, not loners seeking a way out":
A new study based on interviews conducted over social media with foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria raises doubts about the commonly held notion that young men in North America and Europe who are drawn to violent Islamic extremism must be marginalized loners . . . . Three university researchers who contacted dozens of jihadists from abroad in Iraq and Syria, including some Canadians, say they seemed to be drawn mainly by the religious ideas . . . behind jihadism. Rather than being isolated individuals who self-radicalized in front of their computer screens, the report says they usually found mentors . . . . In the working paper entitled Talking to Foreign Fighters: Socio-Economic Push versus Existential Pull Factors, the researchers caution against assuming that radical Islam appeals only young men on the edges of society . . . . They suggest previous academic studies have put too much weight on those "push" factors - the problems and frustrations in the lives of young men who turn to extremist Islam . . . . "Based on what we are hearing in interviews with foreign fighters . . . we think more attention and significance should be given to the repeated affirmations of the positive benefits of being jihadists" . . . . In the working paper, they write that the foreign fighters they contacted "run the gamut from troubled youth with personal problems to accomplished young men and women from stable backgrounds" . . . . [T]he paper points to the importance of influential radical voices who carry some form of religious authority . . . . The report repeatedly stresses the finding that, based on what fighters themselves say, they are "pulled" to Iraq and Syria by religious ideas, rather than being "pushed" by the realities of their lives in the West . . . . [T]he researchers conclude, "we think their religiosity is pivotal to understanding their motivations."More research that takes religious motivation seriously needs to be done. The converts among the foreign fighters for ISIS might know little about Islam, but they are radicalized by religious leaders who do know their religion very well.
For those readers interested in more than the excerpts above, see the article.