We Love Death as You Love Life: Britain’s Suburban Terrorists

In This Review

We Love Death as You Love Life: Britain’s Suburban Terrorists
By Raffaello Pantucci
Hurst, 2015
224 pp.

This is a sensible, well-documented study of how jihadist organizations recruit young Britons, perhaps because it relies on sound data to understand the perspective of the extremists. Pantucci convincingly rebuts common explanations for the rise of militant Islam among British youth, such as economic exclusion and the influence of hard-line clerics. He points instead to three linked factors: identity, grievance, and mobilization. Jihad offers a way to for young immigrants (or the children of immigrants) to blend their various ethnic identities. These young people oppose British nationalism yet do not really feel that they belong to any other country. Fighting for an internationalist cause thus offers a way to answer the question, “Who am I?” This opens the door for grievances: the more Western countries become involved militarily in the Islamic world, particularly in ways that kill civilians, the more young British Muslims see defending their foreign coreligionists as a legitimate goal. The third factor is the existence of a mobilizing network of recruiters, today usually functioning online. In the United Kingdom, these recruiters espouse violent versions of either Salafi or Deobandi ideologies.

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