Hi there, welcome back. Last week we discussed the state of the art of terrorism and counterterrorism studies and looked into the difficulties, the challenges when doing research into these phenomena. We also discussed the research output. This week we're going to look at five of these products. Five interesting assumptions, either because they're challenged or the opposite. They're very much believed to be valid and they are also the basis of many counterterrorism measures. It's good to test them, to compare them with empirical evidence and compare them with academic literature. It's also important to do so because terrorism is an ever-changing phenomenon, that requires us to update our theories and assumptions every now and then, especially if they constitute the basis of policy-making. The five assumptions that we're going to explore and analyze are the following. Terrorism is caused by poverty. Terrorists are crazy or insane. Terrorism is becoming increasingly lethal, it's getting more deadly. Then we will look at the assumption that terrorism is predominantly anti-western. Finally, we're going to look at whether or not terrorism is successful, as stated by some. In this video, we will discuss the first assumption about root causes of terrorism. It states that poverty causes terrorism. It is an idea that is almost as old as the first attempts to understand terrorism. Where does this idea come from, and is it true? It should be stressed that this assumption is mostly put forward by politicians and public figures. Here are two examples. The first one is from the former US Secretary of State General, Colin Powell, who in 2002 said the following. He said, "I fully believe that the root cause of terrorism does come from situations where there is poverty, where there is ignorance, where people see no hope in their life." The second example of somebody who stated that poverty causes terrorism is the South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In 2007, he said, "You can never win a war against terror as long as there are conditions in the world that make people desperate; poverty, diseases, ignorance." A third example is that of France justice minister Christiane Taubira, who stressed the importance of targeting poverty and injustice as major factors in feeding terrorism. She did so at a meeting of the UN's counterterrorism committee in February 2015. Three examples of public figures who have stated that poverty causes terrorism. Are these eminent persons right or wrong? Is poverty a root cause of terrorism? First, we are going to look why this actually assumed, by some politicians and experts that, there is a link between poverty and terrorism. The basic idea is that poverty leads to a lack of opportunities to improve the quality of somebody's life. I think Colin Powell referred to that. That could result in anger towards people who are better off or in blaming the government for the lack of these opportunities. While in combination with the idea that terrorists are rational actors, it is argued by some that violence might be the last resort to deal with these grievances. They also point at the fact that there's terrorism in a lot of poor countries, that terrorists are from the lower parts of society and that some terrorist organizations, mainly extreme left-wing organizations, indeed claim to fight for the poor. They subsequently assume a causal relationship between poverty and terrorism. Why do we have to test this assumption? Well, obviously it has consequences for counterterrorism measures. For instance, if you think that poverty is a root cause of terrorism, you want to do a lot more about poverty eradication. But you want to know if it's really helpful to make the chance of a terrorist attack any smaller. Just like with many other public policy issues, counterterrorism policy-makers are confronted with the problem of allocating scarce resources, money, time, people. If you spend it on poverty eradication, you cannot spend it on something else. Let us compare the assumption with empirical data and academic research. Let us first have a look at some examples. When studying the characteristics of individual terrorists, it seems strange to assume a direct link between poverty and terrorism. Most terrorists are not very poor or much poorer than others. In fact, some terrorists are extremely rich. Think of Osama Bin Laden, perhaps the most well-known terrorist of our age, who came from a very wealthy Saudi family. There are many other examples of terrorists from upper or upper- middle classes. Take for instance, Anders Breivik, who killed almost 80 people in Norway, or take an example from the 1960s and '70s from left-wing terrorism, Ulrike Meinhof, one of the key persons of the Rotte Armee Fraktion. She also came from a well-to-do family, was highly educated, and had lots of opportunities in life. A more recent example is that of the so-called Jihadi John, the British- Kuwaiti man, who was seen on several IS videos beheading captives in 2014 and 2015. Before joining IS, he went to study business management and information systems in Britain and work for an IT company in Kuwait. Studying the characteristics of jihadi terrorists in Europe, I found out that they were mainly children of migrants or migrants themselves, and they were of lower parts of society, but they were not poorer than other migrants or children of migrants, and the same holds for many terrorists in the less developed parts of this world. Many of them are perhaps not rich or not even middle-class, but they are not poorer than their fellow citizens. This has been confirmed by quite a number of studies into the backgrounds of terrorists, which we will discuss in a bit. First, I would like to go back to the map I presented in the first week, The map showing terrorist attacks in 2019, based on the global terrorism database of 2020, by the Institute for Economics and Peace. What do we see? If we look at the map, we see that Afghanistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria, and Somalia are most often confronted with terrorism. The rest of the 10 most impacted countries are Yemen, Pakistan, India, DRC, and the Philippines. Are these the poorest countries in the world? Well, let's take the statistics of the International Monetary Fund, the IMF, on the gross domestic product per capita of 212 states and territories in 2020. We see that apart from Iraq, number 101 on the list, the other countries are indeed among the poor half of the world's countries. But the Philippines, Nigeria, Syria, India, and Pakistan are not among the poorest. Only Afghanistan, Yemen, and DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Somalia are the bottom of that list. However, if we look at the other countries that are very low on that list, we see many countries that do not experience high or even moderate levels of terrorism, such as Burundi, Malawi, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, or Togo. Some, but not all poor countries suffer from terrorism. Nonetheless, we can say that today, the poorest countries are overrepresented on the list of countries most impacted by terrorism. It should be stressed that this was different in the past. Let us take the example of left-wing terrorism in the 1960s and 1970s. It were countries like Germany, Italy, and Japan that were the most often hit by this type of terrorism. These countries, both then and today, are among the richest in the world. Looking both at individuals and countries, there seems to be no clear evidence of the assumption that poverty causes terrorism, but the assumption deserves a more in-depth look. I would like to present to you a number of academic studies starting with the detailed study by James Piazza from 2006. He looked at the link between poverty and terrorism on a macro-level. He included many variables that could directly or indirectly be related to poverty or associated with poverty, such as low levels per capita income, high levels of illiteracy, low life expectancy, and lack of employment opportunities. He concluded that these poverty-related factors could not be linked to higher levels of terrorism. Two scholars that looked at individual cases, individual lives, were Alan Krueger and Jitka Maleckova. In their often quoted study from 2003, they investigated the link between poverty, education, and terrorism. Their study focused on members of the militant wing of Hezbollah, the Shiite Islamic group and political party in Lebanon. They looked at the lives of these persons and found out that, and I quote here, "Any connection between poverty, education, and terrorism is indirect, complicated, and probably quite weak." They also concluded that terrorism is rather caused by a response to political conditions and long-standing feelings of indignity and frustration, that have very little to do with economics. A third study that I would like to mention is a study by Chimere Iheonu and Hyacinth Ichoku from 2021. In their quantitative study, they argue that poverty is not a determining factor for terrorism in Africa. They do point at other economic indicators, such as economic growth, income inequality, and unemployment that affect terrorism in Africa. So what have we learned? The idea of a link between poverty and terrorism is mainly put forward by politicians and public figures. But statistical data on individual terrorists and countries do not show a causal relationship between poverty and terrorism. Scholarly literature is quite clear about the lack of such a direct link, though some point at the possibility that income inequality and unemployment can affect terrorism. Is the assumption that terrorism is caused by poverty true, false, or should it be regarded a myth? We do see a lot of politicians frequently mention poverty as a root cause, but there is no evidence for such a causal link. Therefore, we label this assumption 'a myth'. In the next video, we're going to explore the second assumption, the assumption that terrorists are crazy.