Many of us are conditioned or wont to think of terrorists as unschooled baboons or idiots brainwashed into following their leaders’ bidding.
Not so. Not so.
The New York Times Magazine had an interesting piece yesterday which argues that:
[I]n the ranks of captured and confessed terrorists, engineers and engineering students are significantly overrepresented.
The author of the NYT piece David Berreby cites work by sociologist Diego Gambetta and political scientist Steffen Hertog to argue his position.
Each month, Gambetta and Hertog’s database grows. Last December, Abdulmutallab’s attempt over Detroit. In February, Joseph Andrew Stack, a software engineer, crashed his plane into I.R.S. offices in Austin, Tex. In March, John Patrick Bedell, an engineering grad student, opened fire at an entrance to the Pentagon. In early May, Faisal Shahzad (bachelor of science in computer science and engineering) was arrested at Kennedy Airport for a failed attempt to set off a bomb in Times Square. Also in May, Faiz Mohammad, a civil engineer, was caught at Karachi’s airport with batteries and an electrical circuit hidden in his shoes. And going back, of the 9/11 conspirators who had been educated beyond high school, eight studied engineering. As this list suggests, the phenomenon isn’t confined to Muslims or Middle Easterners.
According to the data collected on 404 Islamic terrorists, 20% had engineering degrees. If you look at militants with post high-school education, 44% had training in engineering!
The engineering background is not restricted to Islamic terrorists alone but seen among right-wing outfits too. Key members of other right-wing White racist groups too came from an engineering background.