Kerry: People Join Terrorist Groups When ‘They Have Trouble Finding Meaning or Opportunity in Their Daily Lives’

By Lauretta Brown | August 24, 2016 | 12:04pm EDT
Secretary of State John Kerry (AP Photo)

( – Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about countering “violent extremism” from groups like Boko Haram during his visit to Nigeria Tuesday, saying that  “far too many” people join groups like Boko Haram “because they have trouble finding meaning or opportunity in their daily lives.”

Kerry argued that people join terrorist groups, because they are “deeply frustrated and alienated – and because they hope groups like Boko Haram will somehow give them a sense of identity, or purpose, or power.”

Kerry said that that this is observable all the world, “whether we are talking about the Lake Chad Basin or the Sahel, or a village in the Middle East or a city in Western Europe, it’s the same.”

“When people – and particularly young people – have no hope for the future and no faith in legitimate authority – when there are no outlets for people to express their concerns – then aggravation festers and those people become vulnerable to outside influence,” Kerry said, adding, “no one knows that better than the violent extremist groups, which regularly use humiliation and marginalization and inequality and poverty and corruption as recruitment tools.

“Nations need to do more than just denounce bankrupt, dead-end ideologies that the terrorists support,” Kerry said. “They also have to offer their citizens an alternative that is better, that offers hope, that actually delivers on its promises.”

Kerry said that one of the “central tasks” in countering extremism must be “to remove the vulnerabilities in our own position.”

“To effectively counter violent extremism,” Kerry argued, “we have to ensure that military action is coupled with a reinforced commitment to the values this region and all of Nigeria has a long legacy of supporting – values like integrity, good governance, education, compassion, security, and respect for human rights.”

Kerry made his remarks following a meeting with local religious leaders to discuss “community building and countering violent extremism” in Sokoto, Nigeria.


See also:

Kerry: Potential Terror Recruits Need ‘More Economic Opportunities’ (Sept. 30, 2013)

Boko Haram Recruitment: Kerry Blames Poverty (May 7, 2014)

Kerry: Extremism Not Linked to Islam; Factors Include ‘Palestine,’ Deprivation, Climate Change (Oct. 17, 2014)

Kerry: You Have to Understand Terrorists to Defeat Them (Feb. 19, 2015)

British PM: Ideology, Not Poverty, is the Root Cause of Islamist Terrorism (Jul. 23, 2015)

Former Islamist:  Ideology and Theology, Not Grievances or Poverty Lie Behind Radicalization (Apr. 27, 2016)


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