Diego Gambetta & Steffen Hertog: Engineers of Jihad: The Curious Connection between Violent Extremism and Education, 2016
European Sociological Review
GB : Oxford University Press
161 - 164 p.
Gambetta and Hertog’s book systematically analyzes biographical characteristics of jihadists (Islamists involved in violent actions) and by comparison other violent extremists—right-wing and left-wing—in order to understand what is specific to jihadist commitment. The authors examine the period 1975–2005 and five groups: three large and diffuse groups, comprising (i) individuals born and active in violent politics in a variety of Muslim countries in peacetime (mostly Middle Eastern and North African or MENA countries), constituting the main sample, (ii) individuals born and raised in Western countries, (iii) a group of non-violent Islamists; and two specific groups of Islamist extremists: (iv) one in Iran before 1979, and (v) a set of individuals found around the globe who defected from violent action. In addition, the authors take samples of post-World War II extremists in Western countries on both sides of the political spectrum. In the absence of systematic sociographies of these people, they perform a huge, complex, and a quasi-judicial investigation to find jihadist samples with sufficient socio-biographical information, which they frequently supplement with information on their educational achievements and field of study. The samples are not very large (several hundred indivdiuals) but numerous, the information on jihadist’s backgrounds has not always been found, but a number of controls and supplementary data or studies allow them to largely overcome these pitfalls.