Britain's most senior counter terrorism officer, Neil Basu, claims that 'poverty and deprivation' drive people to terrorism, so we should give them more stuff to stop them bombing us.
Policies that go towards more social inclusion, more social mobility and more education are much more likely to drive down violence - than all the policing and state security apparatus put together.
He offers no evidence to support his theory, which is unsurprising since it contradicts the known facts.
Consider the backgrounds of some of the most infamous Muslim terrorists of recent times:
- Inshaf and Ilham Ibrahim, Sri Lanka Easter Sunday bombers, sons of millionaire spice trader
- Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, Sri Lanka bomber, from wealthy tea trading family
- Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 'underpants bomber', son of high-ranking Nigerian banker
- Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda, qualified surgeon
- Anwar al-Awlaki, al-Qaeda terror planner, PhD student son of Yemeni cabinet minister
- Mohammed Emwazi ('Jihadi John', below), ISIS assassin, from well-to-do West London family
- Mohamed Atta, lead 9/11 hijacker, PhD student son of Egyptian lawyer
- Osama bin Laden, 9/11 mastermind, son of multi-millionaire Saudi construction tycoon
- Two-thirds of the 9/11 attackers had university degrees
- Bilal Abdulla, 2007 Glasgow Airport attacker, doctor
- Kafeel Ahmed, Glasgow Airport attacker, engineer
There are many more like them.
Claude Berrebi and Owen Engel have reviewed available research on the economic and educational backgrounds of terrorists, and conclude that:
None of the statistical analyses found a definitive link between terrorism and poverty at the individual level. Just the opposite, in fact... terrorists are more likely to come from better financial backgrounds, belong to a higher socio-economic group, or simply be above the poverty line.
Many of these same studies also investigated the relationship between education and terrorism. [Researchers found] that terrorists are not only not uneducated on average but, in fact, tend to have achieved a higher education level than the average in their respective region.
So much for the idea of the poor, blighted terrorist driven to desperate acts by his individual desperation.
Assistant Commissioner Basu appears unaware of this research.
Still, the mystery remains: if not poverty or poor education, what exactly is driving all these devotees of Islam, these readers of the Koran to terrorism?