We've had some discussions in the past, on Islamists and what kind of people the message they put out, seems to attract (most recently here). So, anyone who has deemed this kind of thing interesting enough to explore it further, here is an article that is worthy of some consideration.
The article is quite extensive in for a short space of words. It attempts to look at many of the inconsistencies that exist in the jihadist world, as it describes the different socioeconomic backgrounds that have found their way into this movement.
While some of us maintain economic reasons are a primary source of motivation, I can agree that it is a factor in some cases but not all. There have been many Palestinian suicide bombers that come from families that are very common and some cases in poverty. But if we are to lend any credibility to this article, we must also accept that the brains of the operations are not uneducated and underprivileged people. Many do have college degrees in field that require some intelligence to master, enough to acquire this education. In addition to this, they also had to have the financial resources to pay for it. I am not sure there are extensive government programs for poor people in countries like Syria, Iran, or others.
The other interesting thing to note in this is, it is starting to look like al-Qaeda (et al.) is trying to adjust their strategy a bit. Knowing that a common misconception is now permeating the conventional wisdom, knowing there is a misunderstanding of what is a typical terrorist, they have decided not to employ these people except maybe as decoys. They seem more willing to use people that have become disaffected for reasons other than economic ones.
But more than anything, it is very important to understand something. With all of these inconsistencies that we can identify and analyze, there still is one constant. The people that are taking up the jihadist struggle, all claim Islam as their religion. Whether they are or whether they are not, is irrelevant. They all claim it and claim it proudly.
By expanding their use of all types, they can widen the circle of suspicion and file more lawsuits when the authorities try to investigate them. They all can complain to CAIR that more people of their faith are being targeted unjustly.
And as they adjust, so must we.
We must be prepared to realize that there is not one leading indicator other than these people all claim to be doing the will of Allah by killing infidels. With that in mind, we should know that variations in backgrounds, nationalities, and other demographics will be the constant.
Understanding these people and why they do what they do is important, and with time we are learning more and more about them. But, there are things we already know, things that some are still not ready to accept. More importantly, we must allow ourselves the ability to stop these people before they cause harm. When we do this, it is then we learn things that can help us understand the profiles of such people, by tracing their paths backward.