“[W]hen the center of the global economy is the god of money,” Pope Francis stated recently in an interview, “[t]errorism grows.” Curious about the Pope’s somewhat economistic explanation for Islamist terrorism, Samuel Gregg asks, “do factors such as economic poverty and greed really function as major causes of Islamist terrorism?” He recently wrote an article for the Stream examining this.
The available research on this question, Gregg points out, suggests not. As he summarizes:
In short, terrorists generally aren’t economically poor or from impoverished backgrounds. Moreover, if poverty or absence of economic opportunity drove people to immolate themselves and innocent bystanders, drive trucks into large crowds, slit priests’ throats, execute nuns or axe Jews to death, you’d expect similar events to occur regularly in places such as China’s rural impoverished Eastern regions, large swathes of India or downtown Detroit for several decades. But they aren’t.