The myth of the poor, oppressed jihadist never dies. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is the latest Obama administration official to peddle this odious narrative. Cue John Lennon's cloying "Imagine," don your plaid pajamas, and curl up with a warm cup of deadly naivete.
While meeting with Catholic Church officials at the Vatican in Rome on Monday, Kerry expounded on their "huge common interest in dealing with this issue of poverty, which in many cases is the root cause of terrorism or even the root cause of the disenfranchisement of millions of people on this planet." In other words: If only every al-Qaida and Taliban recruit had a fraction of Kerry's $200 million fortune, they'd all be frolicking peacefully with infidels on jet skis sporting "Coexist" bumper stickers.
This wasn't a one-off. Kerry delivered a similar Kumbaya-style discourse at the Global Counterterrorism Forum last fall: "Getting this right isn't just about taking terrorists off the street. It's about providing more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of recruitment." Naturally, the Foggy Bottom apple doesn't fall far from the Pennsylvania Avenue terror-excusing tree. President Obama subscribes to the very same "midnight basketball" theory of counterterrorism. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Obama asserted that jihad "grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair."
The chronic cluelessness of the root-cause apologists of jihad never ceases to amaze. Britain's MI5 reported in 2011 that two-thirds of the U.K's jihad suspects were from middle-class backgrounds, "showing there is no simplistic relationship between poverty and involvement in Islamist extremism." Thorough reviews of the empirical evidence shows, as the RAND Corporation reported, that "(t)errorists are not particularly impoverished, uneducated or afflicted by mental disease. Demographically, their most important characteristic is normalcy (within their environment). Terrorist leaders actually tend to come from relatively privileged backgrounds."
Here's a refresher cheat sheet:
—9/11 lead hijacker Mohammed Atta went to Hamburg University to study urban planning.
—Convicted al-Qaida scientist Aafia Siddiqui is a Pakistani who studied microbiology at MIT and did graduate work in neurology at Brandeis.
—Osama bin Laden did a summer school stint at Oxford.
—Christmas Day underwear bomb operative Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab was an elite Nigerian engineering student who studied at one of Britain's leading universities and "lived a gilded life."
—Jihadist Samantha Lewthwaite, the notorious "White Widow" British Muslim convert linked to last year's Westgate mall massacre in Nairobi, was the daughter of a soldier and a former University of London student.
—British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a London School of Economics student, was convicted of abducting and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl.
—Seven upper-middle-class jihadi doctors were implicated in the 2007 London/Glasgow bombings.
—Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri didn't need more education or wealth to steer him away from Islamic imperialism. He had a medical degree. So did former Hamas biggie Abdel al-Rantissi.
—Al-Qaida mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed attended Chowan College in Murfreesboro, N.C., and then transferred to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, where he earned his degree in mechanical engineering along with 30 other Muslims. Mohammed applied his Western learning to oversee the 1993 World Trade Center bombing plot (six Americans dead), the U.S.S. Cole attack (17 American soldiers dead) and the September 11 attacks (3,000 dead). He also has been linked to the 1998 African embassy bombings (212 dead, including 12 Americans), the plot to kill the pope, the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl and the Bali nightclub bomb blast that killed nearly 200 tourists, including two more Americans.
Osama bin Laden, of course, was dedicated to spending every last penny of his inherited Saudi fortune — estimated at between $50 million and $300 million — to wage war on the West. Al-Shabaab jihadists have amassed their own terror campaign chest through the illegal ivory trade.
Privileged jihad funders from Qatar and other Gulf states heap their petro-dollars on al-Qaida. The Taliban raised $400 million in one year, according to a 2012 U.N. report, not just from opium, but largely from "donations, taxing local economies and extorting money from such targets as drug dealers, cellphone operators and aid projects." Indeed, since 2006, "the Taliban have managed to finance an ever-increasing number of attacks, reflecting a year-on-year increase in income," the U.N. report said.
Memo to stupidly rich elitist John Kerry, richly stupid progressive Barack Obama and the administration's bleeding-heart bureaucrats in a bubble: Financial bankruptcy is not, and has never been, the "root cause" of Koran-inspired hatred and violence against nonbelievers. Lack of intellectual stimulation is not, and has never been, the "root cause" of radical Islam's centuries-old and never-ceasing imperative to establish a worldwide caliphate and conquer the West. The root cause of civilizational jihad is unmitigated evil and arrogance, not lack of compassion, understanding or social justice.
Islamic terrorism never had such dutiful tools as the American fools who rationalize it.
Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies" (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.