Engineers Most Likely to Become Islamic Radicals

Engineers of Jihad

Why Are There So Many Engineers Among Islamic Radicals?

What sort of people are more likely to become religious fundamentalists?

Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog recently released two reports demonstrating that individuals with degrees in subjects such as science, engineering, and medicine are most likely to become Islamic extremists. The two most well-known cases are Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who studied engineering in university, and Al-Qaeda second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri who received a degree in medicine.

Engineering stand out as having the highest rate of radicalization. According to Gambetta and Hertog: “engineers alone appear to be particularly strongly represented among violent groups. Even in the spectrum of non-violent Islamist parties, engineers seem to have been more strongly represented among the more radical ones both in Turkey and in Egypt. Most other degrees were not as demanding and did not have as many high achievers as engineering did. Yet medicine, natural sciences and, in some countries, economics are just as prestigious and difficult to get into, and the graduates in these fields did not have much better chances for professional development than engineers.” Reasons for the high rate of engineer radicalization investigated in the studies include social selection, job availability, and mindsets.


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