Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education. By Diego Gambetta and Steffen Hertog

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Saman Fazeli


Violent Extremism, Education, Diego Gambetta, Steffen Hertog, jihad, engineers


Perhaps it’s hard to imagine an engineer who is also a poet. After all, there seems to be a stark difference between the skills required by each profession. The dichotomy is undergirded by the notion that—whether engineering conditions engineers to act in particular ways, or engineers are born with a certain mindset—engineers possess certain traits, which lead them to do some things rather than others. The present title, Engineers of Jihad, examines the connection between education and another trait: the capacity for violence. The authors are particularly interested in why there is a disproportionate number (indeed, a significant overrepresentation) of engineers among the ranks of Muslim extremists. Based on this observation, they conclude that engineers are more prone to radicalization than other university graduates (11-16). Although the data could be explained by another hypothesis (there is a higher demand for engineers in extremist
groups), the authors maintain that engineers possess certain character traits that predispose them to radicalization (164).

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