Daesh fighters are more educated than their average countryman according to a new World Bank study.
Entitled "Economic and Social Inclusion to Prevent Violent Extremism", the study looks at the economic prospects of the MENA region and the underlying economic and social factors that have given rise to violent extremist groups. It concludes that violent extremism has contributed to the region's poor economic performance.
Daesh recruits from Europe and in Central Asia, as well as other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries, have similar levels of education to their compatriots. In contrast, states the report, foreign recruits from the Middle East, North Africa and South and East Asia are significantly more educated than what is typical in their region. The authors left open the possibility that recruits have been overestimating their education and thus urge caution when interpreting these differences.
The data also shows that "poverty is not a driver of radicalisation into violent extremism." Out of 331 recruits described in a leaked Daesh database, only 17 per cent did not finish high school, while a quarter had university-level educations.
In its statement following the publication of the study, the World Bank concluded that economic and social inclusion helps prevent violent extremism and contribute to growth in the Middle East and North Africa.