reservists, whose civilian jobs were as cops, serving in Iraq noted, an
interesting similarity between terrorism and crime, in general, back home. That
is, the similarity in ages of the Iraqi terrorists, and common criminals back
in the United States. In both cases, 80 percent of the suspects were between 18
and 25. This is the prime age for criminal and anti-social behavior, and has
been for a long time. In the United States, it was also the case that young
criminals tended to be poorly educated, and often illiterate.
This pattern accounts for the popularity of Islamic terrorism in the
Moslem world. The poor economic, political and scientific performance of the
Moslem, especially the Arab, world when compared to the West leaves young
Moslems with few options. There are practical reasons for this lack of
progress. For example, the Arab world didn't adopt printing until two centuries
after it became common in the West. This was partly due to the complexities of
written Arabic. There are thousands of rules governing how Arabic letters are
joined, and it was difficult for typographers to make it work. A further
complication was resistance from the Islamic religious establishment. Printed
Arabic had to be very much like written Arabic, otherwise one was defaming the
language of the Koran, which is God's word. This is one of the reasons the Arab
world publishes books at a tenth the rate of the rest of the world. The lack of
books leads to knowledge being transmitted more slowly.
That brings up another obstacle. For a thousand years, there has been a
struggle between a large segment of the Islamic clergy, and Moslem scientists
and engineers. In a pattern that persists to the present, Islamic conservatives
condemned many things that are "new" as "un-Islamic." Thus
the al Qaeda enthusiasm for this attitude is nothing new. The price paid for
this attitude has been enormous. Moslem countries contain a disproportionate
number of the illiterates on the planet. Arab college students are much less
likely to study science and engineering than are non-Moslem students. The West
produces more than a hundred times as many Nobel prizes in science, per million
people, than does the Islamic world.
The education shortage results in
less wealth. GDP of all Islamic countries is a fifth of the European Union and
the United States (which contain half as many people.) Unemployment rates are
much higher in Islamic countries, and most are ruled by dictators or monarchs.
Without science, education and democracy, you find that science and economic
progress cannot flourish.
It's only recently become
fashionable among Moslems to attribute this to internal conditions. The Arab Reform
Movement tries, with limited success, to overcome this "blame the
outsider" attitude. Even the Saudi royal family is behind the Arab Reform
Movement, and the need for the Islamic world to invest more in education and
economic freedom. But thousand year old habits are difficult to erase quickly.
This is why Westerners can speak with educated Moslems and come away thinking
that friendly relations between the Western and Islamic world are more likely
than not. But among the vast majority of poorly educated, and often illiterate,
Moslems, the West is feared and hated. Moslem tyrants play on this, as they
have for centuries, to blame the misery the tyrants have created on infidel
The poor economic performance, and tendency not to allow women to be
educated, leads to many young, ignorant, unemployed men. These are prime
prospects for Islamic radical groups. The pitch is that it is all fault of
someone else, and that if we kill enough of the right people (local tyrants,
and their foreign allies), than all will be right again. It won't, it hasn't,
but it works great for recruiting.