Second-generation migrant families are particularly bad for producing Islamist terrorists, a French academic has said.
Olivier Roy, a Middle East scholar at the European University Institute in Florence, claims the descendants of newly-arrived migrants fail to integrate into European society, and siblings can often encourage one another into extremism.
He told The Times: “We have long seen pairs of brothers joining the jihad. This is a family affair — for them, conflict with the West is less important than their conflict with their parents.”
Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakraoui blew themselves up at Brussels airport and Maelbeek metro station this week, following in the footsteps of the Abaaouds and Abdeslams, who were involved in the November Paris massacre, and the Kouachi brothers who attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices last year.
Professor Roy says that failure of migrant families to fully integrate leads to children adopting a more hard line interpretation of their faith.
“These children grow up believing their parents have lost their culture and Muslim faith, while never integrating and slipping down the social ladder. In short, they believe their parents have been cheated.
“When children ask ‘Why did you bring us here?’ their parents tell them it was for a better life, to which they reply, ‘We don’t have a better life!’
“This is a massive generational rift and if you can convince your brother to join you in the battle, you underline that rift, you make sense of it and you justify it. It means you are more likely to be recruited by your sibling returning from Syria than by an imam or the internet.”
Islam, he says, acts as a vehicle for anger, with the radicals accusing their parents of not being good Muslims and of not bringing their ancestral faith fully to Europe with them.
“The last text that suicide bombers send to their mothers often says: ‘I am going to paradise and thanks to me, you will now go too’,” Professor Roy said.