Riyaz Bhatkal, an engineer by profession, is considered to be the founder and leader of Indian Mujahideen charged with Mumbai serial train blast 2006, Hyderabad blast 2007, Jaipur blasts 2008 and Delhi blast of September 2008. He is absconding at the moment.
Dr. Jaffer Iqbal Sholapur scored 104th rank in CET examinations in medical course. He completed his MBBS from KIMS, Hubli and post graduate diploma in neurology from Mangalore. He was arrested for plotting to assassinate top Hindu political leaders and journalists.
Abdullah Ahmad Ali graduated from City University, East London with a degree in engineering. He was charged for plotting to blow up transatlantic planes using liquid bombs.
Taimour Abdulwahab Al-abdaly studied BSc sports therapy in University of Bedfordshire. A suicide bomber, he blew up at Stockholm in December 2015.
Mahomad Masoor Asgar is a graduate in software engineering from Vishwakarma Institute of Technology, Pune. He worked for several computer firms. He was arrested for Ahmadabad serial blast of July 2008.
Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s chief strategist and Bin Laden’s deputy, is a trained surgeon.
Orlando Bosch, who was active in the militant Miami, Florida-based anti-Castro movement and was charged with the in-flight bombing of a Cuban Airlines flight in 1976 that killed 73 persons, practiced as a paediatrician.
Attack on Glasgow’s International Airport in June 2007: Six of the eight persons arrested were either doctors or medical students. The seventh person was employed as a technician in a hospital laboratory and the eighth member of the conspiracy was neither a medical doctor nor in health care, but instead had earned a doctorate in design and technology.
The mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Mohamed Atta, was an architectural engineer.
What kind of person becomes a jihadi terrorist? It is interesting and alarming to realize that that an overwhelming majority of graduates recruited into Islamist terrorism studied engineering, science and medicine.
Contrary to the common place belief that poverty and lack of education breeds terrorism, to a large extent, historically those who have been attracted to terrorism have in fact tended to be reasonably well, if not, highly educated, financially comfortable and, in some cases, quite well off, and, often gainfully employed.
Terror groups are on the lookout for young men who speak good English, and are comfortable with using the Internet and computer. Most importantly, they do not want someone who would stand out or look different. This is part of the recruitment strategy of most terror groups. When terrorist recruits have good jobs and lead normal lives, it makes them look less suspicious. They can go to colleges, work in corporate offices, mingle with the crowds and nobody will ever suspect them
Intelligence agencies and counter-terror experts believe that the internet is a major factor that has led to this phenomenon of giving an image makeover to terrorists. There is a lot of terror related activity in cyber space. Educated people are surely behind it. There is also a lot of provocative literature which is being read by the educated class making them much more vulnerable to terror recruitments.
England’s universities have become a breeding ground for extremism and terrorist recruitment, according to a disturbing government report. Officials have identified 40 English universities where ‘there may be particular risk of radicalisation or recruitment on campus.’
Another possible explanation would be that educated professionals and engineers possess technical skills and architectural know-how that makes them attractive recruits for terrorist organizations. But a recent study found that engineers are just as likely to hold leadership roles within these organizations as they are to be working hands-on with explosives. In any case, their technical expertise may not be that useful, since most of the methods employed in terrorist attacks are rudimentary. It’s true that eight of the 25 hijackers on 9/11 were engineers, but it was their experience with box cutters and flight school, not fancy degrees, that counted in the end.
Why is it that those who are engineers or doctors or computer specialists are more involved in such acts? Answer is not very difficult to find. Modern education as such is hardly based on humanitarian values and technical education. Thus they become technical experts, good engineers or doctors but have not much awareness about the humanities. Their technical expertise is not tempered with higher spiritual values of love, compassion and wisdom.
These days, education has become highly competitive and everyone wants to succeed at the cost of others. Competition, not cooperation, is the spirit of our education. And it is competition all the way – from degree to highly paid jobs. Widespread consumerism and the rat race it promotes, make people greedy. They want more income, a better life which comes only through often (immoral) competition. Humanity and human compassion is the loser.
Also, our modern education system promotes information, not knowledge. There is a great difference between information and knowledge. Information is a necessary part of knowledge but not sufficient for it. Higher knowledge always combines values with information along with deeper understanding of issues.
The university degrees thus do not provide in-depth understanding and humanitarian perspective but only sufficient information for students to obtain a technical job. Such people can easily be swayed by campaigns of hatred especially if it also gives them a sense of some ‘higher cause.’ Many supporters of Hindutva in USA are also highly qualified people who are made to think that Hindus are suffering ‘injustice’ in their own country due to minority aggressiveness. And thus, they finance Sangh Parivar in India. Such an ideology of hate becomes more deadly, if the youth happen to come from an authoritarian culture where there is no basic freedom in the society. There are no avenues of protest available except to take to violence, and much more so if the violence can be justified ideologically as is the case of ‘jihadi Islam’. Such anger is expressed through acts of violence (ideologically justified) in places where they feel great injustice is being done to members of their community.
Terror attacks can never be justified whatever the cause. Violence, no matter how important the cause, can never be justified. Violence is destructive of all values and totally brutalizes those who commit it. One cannot bring about justice by killing others.
The real truth is that no religion encourages human beings to kill one another or take justice into their own hands. In fact, the Quran says that ‘to kill one person is to kill entire humanity’. The important thing that all people (intellectuals and otherwise, believers and atheists) must remember is that we should focus on love and compassion more than hate and anger.
The world is an amazing place because there are people who still care about other people, people who go out of their way to help strangers and people who give without expecting something in return.