Since we’re not living on an island, this radical youth movement (a.k.a. jihadism) comes back to us. Every ‘veteran’ jihadi who’s coming back home to the country he was growing up takes war in his hand luggage. Or do you think they will just be selling fruits and vegetables, again?
The second reason for young people becoming jihadists is: it’s a youth movement. Especially Western societies have become weak and slack in the eyes of many angry young men and women. By turning their hand to young and radical movements they are getting able to rebase their self-esteem, something the societies they were coming from obviously weren’t able to do. This makes this explosive mix complete: hubris, a delusion of grandeur, a desire for ‘meaning’ and radical methods, all this under the hood of an aggressive youth movement, and you’re ready for the next holy war.
Two aspects of jihadism seem to be important: First, it’s a radical movement. Fighting people, killing people, spreading fear and terror isn’t just boosting one’s ego, it’s also producing results. These results couldn’t be more simple and obvious: killing somebody is the ultimate argument. It’s making things assessable and reduces complexity. The radical approach only knows good and evil. The good one is ‘us’, everybody else is ‘evil’ and must be killed. It’s a kind of thinking that our pluralistic, tolerant, and sometimes bigoted societies tries to abolish for a long time. Somebody who doesn’t want this is probably vulnerable to radicalism. Because it’s so simple, so easy. No multicausal thinking, no on-the-one-on-the-other-hand: that’s probably why so many young people from Western countries are becoming jihadists and start killing people in Iraq or Syria. Because being radical is the new cool for these people.