FEATURED POST: Here’s Why Americans Join ISIS And Other Terrorist Groups 

Syed Rizwan Farook, a suspect in the San Bernardino attacks, was an American citizen. Handout Getty Images

A market researcher explains why Westerners join Muslim extremist groups.

After authorities disclosed an American couple killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, December 2, the question has become urgent: What causes Westerners to join Muslim extremist groups, like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)?

A Lebanese market research company says it has coaxed out a more complete profile of their motivations, according to an article in Defense One, a national security news website. The Beirut-based firm Quantum Communications studied televised one-on-one interviews with former and current fighters shown on Saudi and Iraqi channels.

According to the study, released earlier this year, Americans and other Westerners are more likely to be drawn to Islamic extremist groups as they search for identity. They feel like outsiders in Western culture and seek out the rules, structure and cohesiveness of the group to provide them a sense of belonging, the report says.

“Belonging defines them, their role, their friends, and their interaction with society,” as the group of “identity seekers” is described in the report; more than 60 percent of this group was from the West that included U.S. French and British nationals. “In this context the Islamic Ummah (identity) provides a pre-packaged transnational identity.”

The report succinctly describes Western converts as “confident naïfs with an axe to grind.” Among the identity seekers the report identified Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a 22-year-old Florida man who, according to authorities, blew himself and others up using a truck bomb in Syria in 2014. He was fighting with an al-Qaeda splinter organization known as al-Nusra Front.

The 2015 study uses a psy­cho-con­tex­tu­al ana­lyt­ic­al technique developed by a Canadian psychologist to glean people’s motivations. 

In testimony to Congress earlier this year, Mi­chael Lumpkin, as­sist­ant de­fense sec­ret­ary for spe­cial op­er­a­tions/low-intensity con­flict, said the Pentagon would use a framework similar to that in the Quantum study to analyze, detect and deter homegrown Islamic terrorists.

Besides the Western recruits, the market researcher also studied televised interviews with ISIS supporters from Syria and Iraq as well as other Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia. The firm grouped the fight­ers in­to nine cat­egor­ies, based on why they said they joined Islamic radical groups. 

Besides identity seekers, the other categories included:

  • Status seekers who want to improve their social status through money and recognition;
  • Revenge seekers who identify with those oppressed by the West;
  • Redemption seekers who are seeking to erase past sins;
  • Responsibility seekers, most often from the war zone, who are looking to better ways to support and protect their families;
  • Thrill seekers who are looking for adventure;
  • Ideology seekers who are looking to impose their view of Islam;
  • Justice seekers who believe they are righting a wrong; and
  • Death seekers, who are often people who have lost people in the conflict and now seek to die as martyrs, rather than commit suicide.

A more common reason among Westerners was a search for identity

But a few also were characterized as thrill seekers. An example given by the report was Eric Harroun, a 30-year-old American veteran, who went to fight in Syria in 2013 with the Free Syrian Army. He later died of a drug overdose.

Read more on Fortune 

ISIS The Main Focus Of World Leaders At The G20 Summit

 

President Barack Obama speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin during 2015 G20 summit in Turkey. Photograph by Cem Oksuz — Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

 
Via Fortune– Various world leaders met this weekend at the G20 summit in Turkey. The two-day summit is generally a time to discuss economics, but as it convened just two days following the terrorist attacks in Paris, it became an opportunity to discuss the evolving global threat that is the Islamic State.

President Obama declared that he would increase efforts towards eradicating ISIS to prevent more attacks similar to the one that occurred in Paris on Friday, Reuters reports: “The United States and its allies will redouble efforts to find a peaceful solution in Syria and prevent Islamic State militants from perpetrating attacks like those in Paris.”

Reuters writes that U.S. officials are expecting France to up its involvement in the U.S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign against the Islamic State. Obama is taking this opportunity to attempt to encourage other European and Middle Eastern powers to do the same.

Russia began air strikes in Syria nearly two months ago, but has been aiding president Bashar al-Assad, whom Turkey and western allies do not support, by targeting his moderate Syrian opposition. Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, has urged Vladimir Putin to shift Russia’s military efforts to focus on ISIS.

According to a draft communique, as seen by Reuters, leaders at the summit are expected to agree that the migrant crisis is a global problem and they need to coordinate a way to tackle it. 

The draft is due to be published on Monday, but has yet to be accepted by all the G20 leaders, specifically China, India, and Russia.