So if it’s clearly not deprivation that is driving much Islamist terrorism, what is?
For that we must turn to ideology, specifically religious ideology. And this is where the Obama administration has to perform some pretzel logic. It is careful to explain that the war on ISIS is not a war on Islam and that ISIS’ ideology is a perversion of the religion. Fair enough. But the administration seems uncomfortable with making the connection between Islamist terrorism and ultra-fundamentalist forms of Islam that are intolerant of other religions and of other Muslims who don’t share their views to the letter.
ISIS may be a perversion of Islam, but Islamic it is, just as Christian beliefs about the sanctity of the unborn child explain why some Christian fundamentalists attack abortion clinics and doctors. But, of course, murderous Christian fundamentalists are not killing many thousands of civilians a year. More than 80% of the world’s terrorist attacks take place in five Muslim-majority countries — Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria — and are largely carried out by groups with Islamist beliefs.
This week the United Nations released a report showing that civilian casualties in Afghanistan were at the highest level since the organization started counting them six years ago. The Taliban were responsible for three-quarters of these deaths.