Magazine article National Defense

Terrorists Strive on 'Perverse Hopes,' Says Official

Magazine article National Defense

Terrorists Strive on 'Perverse Hopes,' Says Official

Article excerpt

Contrary to popular belief, many suicide bombers come from middle-class, well-off families rather than from destitute ones, according to a Pentagon official. Therefore, the solution to stopping this kind of terrorism is not economic in nature, but requires a changed strategic approach, said Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith.

"Westerners commonly assume that only a person ensnared in deep despair could be a suicide bomber," Feith said in a speech at the Heritage Foundation.

The assumption that the root causes of terrorism are poverty and political hopelessness must be reassessed, he said.

"This diagnosis ... blinds us to opportunities [where] we have to confront terrorism strategically."

Mohammed Atta, for instance--a key figure in executing the September 11 attack--was a middle-class Egyptian whose parents were able to send him to study abroad. His education meant that he could look forward to a relatively privileged life in Egypt--"hardly grounds for extreme despair," said Feith.

A strange mixture of "perverse hopes" characterizes terrorists, in Feith's opinion. …

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