The Obama administration argues that radical Islamic terrorism, like the horrific Bangladesh attack that killed 20 foreign hostages, is a reaction to poverty.
In 2015, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said: “We cannot kill our way out of this war. We need in the longer term – we need the longer term to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups. Whether it’s lack of opportunity for jobs…”.
But some of the Bangladeshi jihadis were rich, educated members of the country’s privileged elite.
Posts on Facebook identified the men, pictured on an Islamic State website grinning in front of a black flag, as Nibras Islam, Rohan Imtiaz, Meer Saameh Mubasheer, Andaleeb Ahmed and Raiyan Minhaj.
Most went to prestigious schools or universities in Dhaka and Malaysia, officials said.
“A majority of the boys who attacked the restaurant came from very good educational institutions. Some went to sophisticated schools. Their families are relatively well-to-do people,” Bangladeshi Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu told India’s NDTV.
Several posts on social media said the man identified by police as Nibras Islam attended Monash University in Malaysia. A friend who knew him while he studied at Dhaka’s North South University told Reuters that Islam later went to Monash.
Two others went to an elite public school in Dhaka called Scholastica.
The New York Times also reported:
Bangladesh’s capital city reeled in shock on Sunday as clues began to flood social media about the privileged backgrounds of the half-dozen attackers believed to have butchered 20 patrons of a restaurant during a bloody siege here late last week.
The men, all in their late teens or early 20s, were products of Bangladesh’s elite, several having attended one of the country’s top English-medium private schools as well as universities both in the country and abroad.
Among them was the son of a former city leader in the prime minister’s own Awami League, the governing party.
“That’s what we’re absolutely riveted by,” said Kazi Anis Ahmed, a writer and publisher of the daily newspaper The Dhaka Tribune. “That these kids from very affluent families with no material want can still be turned to this kind of ideology, motivated not just to the point of killing but also want to be killed.”
That children of the country’s upper classes appear to have joined militant Islamists in an act of such brutality highlighted the radicalization among the largely moderate Muslim population here, a process that has accelerated in recent years.
The article goes on to recount how the terrorists separated Bangladeshis from foreigners, and tortured and killed those foreigners who could not recite verses from the Koran.
Their motivation was radical Islam, pure and simple, which retains an ability to attract ambitious young men looking for fame and a twisted kind of redemption.
That is the “root cause,” and it admits of no easy resolution, redistributive or otherwise.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.