Diego Gambetta: Engineers of Jihad

This is an Archive of a Past Event

FSI-Humanities Center International Visitor

“Engineers of Jihad” Part I: The Facts

In the first talk I present evidence of the level and type of education among violent Islamic radicals. In particular, I show that, among Islamists with a degree, individuals with an engineering education are about four times more frequent than we would expect given the share of engineers among university students in Islamic countries. I then argue that this is neither the result of an accident of history amplified by network effects, nor is it driven by engineers' technical skills. Instead, the pattern of results is broadly consistent with the relative deprivation graduates experienced in the Islamic world. However, I conclude by reviewing evidence which indicates that this cannot be the entire explanation of the overpresentation of engineers.

“Engineers of Jihad” Part II: The Interpretation

In the second talk, I pursue the conjecture that a certain mindset, which might be more likely among engineers than among other graduates, may be responsible for the overrepresentation. I review some evidence of the implications of this conjecture, by presenting new data on the level and type of education among a wide variety of violent extremists, both right and left of the political spectrum, as well as data on the political and religious preferences of engineers.