Youth Deradicalization. Strengthening the Bonds between Jordanian Youth

A Study

Bachelor Thesis, 2016

52 Pages, Grade: A

Free online reading



Research Questions and Hypothesis

Importance of Research

Literature Review

Recruitment: Methods and Conditions

The Youth Sector in Jordan

Key Policy Areas

Jordanian Youth Statistics

What Makes the Jordanian Youth Prone to Recruitment and Radicalization?


Deradicalizing the Jordanian Youth



Youth Deradicalization: Strengthening the Bonds Case Study: The Jordanian Youth

A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the International Studies Program in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Arts


[Youth radicalization generally occurs when a young disenfranchised person is approached by recruiters. Youth deradicalization, in response, is best explained as a bilateral process: offsetting recruitment methods and improving the conditions that result in youth receptiveness to radicalization. The combination of the two, I hypothesize, will not only reduce the number of youth recruits- particularly Jordanian youth recruits, but it will also contribute to youth and national development. I argue that it is important to strengthen the youths’ bonds with society, as strong bonds deter recruits. I highlight the importance of decreasing the cost of marriage to offset the issue of sexual deprivation. I focus on the importance of raising awareness and enhancing mental health facilities.]


[Jordanian Youth, Deradicalization, Recruitment, Radicalization, Political Islam]

By: Mohammed Abu Dalhoum

Washington College

November 21st, 2016


Rogue terrorist groups around the world, such as the likes of Da’ish (ISIS), have been hijacking the name of Islam in their rhetoric, relying on grievances in their efforts to recruit more people. Such groups commit ferocious atrocities against Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as a means of achieving their goals, including establishing an Islamic State or a Caliphate.

When taking a closer look at similar groups, we find two trends closely related. First, the youth in the age category of 15-24 make a sizeable portion of their recruits. The second trend is that they employ certain mechanisms aimed specifically at recruiting more youth. Such methods include mastering technology and employing its means to attract the youth in the aforementioned age category.

These groups have been capitalizing on the mistake committed by mainstream literature by perceiving the youth as a problem instead of as an opportunity. The way the youth are perceived in the media as well as mainstream literature is highly negative, and it boils down to the words “perpetrators or victims.”[1] These narratives and perceptions affect the psychology of the youth who already feel some levels of depression. Ultimately, the number of youth recruits has been on the rise, particularly from Jordan, which ranks in the top three countries that supply the most fighters to Da’ish.[2] Moreover, it is estimated that there are over 7,000 Salafi jihadists in Jordan, including 2,000 who pledged loyalty to Da’ish, and 1,300 who are fighting for either Da’ish or Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria.[3] In addition to that, Jordan has the highest per capita Jihadists in the world with 315 per 1 million.[4] Thus the question of what can be done to override this issue is the main concern of this study.

There are two trends constantly associated with terrorism in the modern era: first is the infamous parallelization of Islam and terrorism, and second is the fact that youth are involved in terrorist groups around the world, perhaps more than ever. Terrorist groups around the world and particularly in the Middle East use Islam as its forefront banner and the youth as its fuel.

Since terrorist groups carry the banner of Islam in their rhetoric, it is important to find the origins of this rhetoric. Some fingers point to Prophet Muhammad as the source of such aggression. However, many evidence proves these accusations wrong and maintains that the prophet remains innocent of such accusations. According to Edward Gibbon, the greatest British historian in the 18th century, the prophet’s most notable success “was affected by the sheer moral force without the stroke of a sword.”[5] In the Sahih Bukhari, the prophet is quoted in a Hadith in which he says: “I advise you ten things. Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly. And don’t be spiteful or unjust.”[6] He also once said that even when the last day comes and doomsday is right at the corner, if one happened to be holding a palm shoot, then he should still plant it.[7] As for the Quran, God says that whoever kills one person is as great a sin as killing all of humanity, and whoever saves a person is equivalent of saving all of humanity (Quran 5:32).

These are just a few of a number of evidence that depict the real message and convey the peacefulness of Islam and the conduct that is expected of Muslims: being harmless and an active lover of nature. When it comes to fighting, “Islamic war was one of liberation and not of compulsion. Muslims were prohibited from opening hostilities without properly declaring war against the enemy, unless the adversary has already started aggression against them”[8] according to the IRFI in their article “War Ethics in Islam.” In other words, the soldiers were to react and not initiate a fight. Muslims were advised to refrain from drawing the first blood. Regardless of the reasons leading up to a confrontation, they were always expected to behave in the manner the prophet and Islam have always anticipated of them.

The fact that the prophet made sure he advised everyone to act in a certain manner proves that he is not to be blamed. Fast-forward fourteen centuries and one cannot turn a blind eye to the sheer amount of ferocious atrocities committed using the name of Islam; emphasizing infamous radical ideas such as the imposition of Sharia Laws, which only feeds into the narratives of xenophobia and Islamophobia in the world. It even does not come as a surprise that islamophobics carry such grievances against Muslims.

Research Questions and Hypothesis

Ever since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, some can argue that the Middle East has been exceedingly Islamicized. However, the trend is not entirely new. Ever since the start of Islam, regimes have transformed from: a city-state, to a caliphate, to an empire ending with the Ottoman Empire, and finally to modern nation states. The transformation into nation states is sometimes attributed to the downfall of Islamic Civilization, which once was at the top globally. There have been many attempts to restore the caliphate or the Islamic empire, which is a movement referred to as recovering from “The Fall from Grace.”[9]

Now that the demographics of the Middle East is increasingly moving towards a young society, it makes a sizeable difference for any political group to have the youth on their side. Current Islamist groups are no longer peaceful and static; instead, they have become violent and expansionist. They ask their recruits to commit horrendous acts of terror including suicide attacks.

What are the reasons behind these trends? What has brought Islam into this situation? What are the recruitment methods used by these terrorist groups that make them particularly appealing to the youth? How can the challenge of deradicalizing the youth be approached? In this study, I define the notion of Political Islam. I take a tour around the history of the radicalization of Islam leading to the point that it has become hijacked by terrorist groups. I explore their recruitment methods. Then I discuss the youth sector of Jordan, highlighting the factors that result in their radicalization receptiveness. I discuss the literature associated with deradicalization, and I explore the practical ways in which the Jordanian youth can become deradicalized.

Preliminary findings show that deradicalization, just like radicalization itself, does not have a single magical explanation. Instead, it has to be approached bilaterally by addressing the radical recruitment methods and focusing on the conditions that result in the receptiveness of the youth. When combining the two, not only more youth will be protected from joining terrorist groups, but that will enhance the youth sector and contribute to national development.

Importance of Research

There are a few important aspects as to why this research matters. First of all, one cannot help but notice the mal-narrative used by terrorist groups in the name of Islam. This causes the media to take it various steps forward, which ultimately feeds into the Islamophobia created and enhanced by the team of media and terrorist groups. This research is important to arrive at a better understanding of why and how has such a peaceful religious message turned into the creation we see in the media. This includes studying the philosophies and the major thoughts as well as the incidents that led to the change.

Second of all, over the past few presidential elections in the United States, there has been an increase in incorporating policies towards the Middle East, particularly Islam in the political rhetoric used by candidates. Such rhetoric paints with a broad brush that all Muslims are terrorists and should be pointed out and evicted from the country. This rhetoric feeds off the narrative used in the media and heavily influences the average US citizen in believing that people of such a faith are dangerous, creating alarming levels of xenophobia.

Third of all is that the ferocious acts committed by terrorist groups around the world especially in the Middle East is something that cannot be ignored. These groups grow increasingly more powerful and attract many followers and sympathizers around the world, not only in the places where they are located. This makes their threat even greater especially because with their use of technology, they can attract people from all over the world and demand that they commit a certain act. In order to counter such groups, it is highly important to understand their recruitment methods.

The fourth part is the fact that youth are involved in violence nowadays more than ever. They are being constantly corrupted by such groups and join them at higher rates than before.[10] These are people falling during the prime of their years; during the years they are supposed to be getting educated and joining the job market to contribute to the development of their respective nations. Unfortunately, they are not following the normal path. Instead, they are following the dark path and wasting their future. This research is important to come to a better understanding as to why these young people join such groups. What is it that makes them prone to recruitment, and what makes the Jordanian youth particularly prone to joining these groups? Answering these questions is important to stop the trend and deradicalize the youth.

Literature Review

Comparing the ferocious acts of rouge groups such as al-Wahhabya, al-Qaeda, and more recently Da’ish, Boko Haram, and al-Shabab with the amiability and respect and peacefulness of the prophet’s commandments raise the questions of how and when did this deviation happen? These specific groups follow extremist thoughts and rally behind radical beliefs that do not seem to be theirs. Therefore, the pressing question now is who is responsible for turning such an amicable message into a radical extremist epidemic? Who is the father of Islamic radicalism? What is the reasoning behind their assertions?

What is political Islam? Mohamed Nasser in his article “Concept and Emergence of Political Islam”[11] relies on the work of G.E. Fuller in saying that political Islam has been used synonymously with Islamism. Fuller and Nasser argue that such a concept is relatively new in the international sphere, arguing that it has been around since 2003/2004 compared to the 1400 years of Islam. Fuller argues that “Islam as a body of faith has something important to say about how politics and society should be ordered in the contemporary Muslim World and who seeks to implement this idea in some fashion.”[12] He adds on saying that it is almost impossible that widely followed religions would not interfere with politics and that politics would not interfere with religion as well. Therefore, much like any other religion or school of thought, Islam does have a lot to say about politics. Fuller maintains that Political Islam is not violent; instead, it incorporates a huge spectrum of stances from “radical to moderate, violent to peaceful, democratic to authoritarian, traditionalist to modernist.”[13]

Fuller provides a short answer as to why various groups carry the banner of Islam in their rhetoric. He asserts that this is mainly because it is an easy way to gain legitimacy. Much like other religions mobilized the people for certain goals by using the rhetoric of “God says so,” Islamist groups are not an exception to this. The only difference is that the time period. While we see a decline in Christians and Jews using this sort of narrative, except for Israel, Islamist groups still use this because they still feel the sorrows of “The Fall from Grace.”[14] This refers to the era in which Islamic civilization enriched the world with technological innovation and literary advancements. After over a thousand years of grace, Muslims believe their decline is attributed to withdrawal from faith and transformation towards modern nation states; hence, the reason why some groups hold on to their faith in such a strict fashion.

This has been a common trend ever since the fall of the last Islamic Caliphate especially that the Ottomans failed to carry the torch. The Sokoto Caliphate emerged in Western Africa for a while, Wahabism aimed at establishing a state, so did Al-Qaeda, and most recently the likes of Da’ish and Boko Haram. The questions that stem from these constant attempts are: does Islam in fact require an active role in building a state? If it does, what kind of state does it seek? If it does not, why then such groups are so invested in achieving such a goal? Fuller reiterates the diversity in Islamic politics arguing that “Islamic politics is subject to much debate between different types of Muslims - conservative, literalists, traditionalists and liberalists.”[15]

Johannes J.G. Jansen,[16] Ali Benlyazid,[17] Juan Jose Escobar Stemman,[18] and Quintan Wiktordwicz[19] all trace back the emergence of radicalism in Islam, perpetuated by the radicalization of Jihad, to the thirteenth century Syrian scholar Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyyah. Henri Laoust describes him as “one of Islam’s most forceful theologians.”[20] He asserts that he was a revisionist, traditionalist, and quite a reformist in the manner that he “sought the return of the Islamic religion to its sources: The Quran and the Sunnah, revealed writing and the prophetic tradition.”[21]

Ibn Taymiyyah dedicated his early scholarly days to the school of Pietism. He focused on the religious sources mentioned above on his way to mastering pietism and emerging as its best and most prominent preacher. Perhaps that is the reason why such terrorist groups cite him and follow his teachings with this intensity since he was an intelligent knowledgeable scholar in his field, surpassing everyone of his contemporaries. Lauost adds on that Ibn Taymiyyah was also “the source of the Wahhabiyyah, a mid-18-century traditionalist movement of Islam.”[22]

Johannes Jansen, a professor of Contemporary Islamic Thought at the University of Utrecht, wrote an article titled “Ibn Taymiyyah and the Thirteenth Century: a Formative Period of Modern Muslim Radicalism” in which he mentions that there is a document entitled “al-Farida al-Gha’iba (The Neglected Duty).” This document includes the teachings of many scholars such as Ibn Kathir, yet the single most quoted scholar in this document is Ibn Taymiyyah, as Jansen adds on that there is no other scholar that has been quoted as much. There are many pages dedicated solely to the fatwas of Ibn Taymiyyah in the Farida document.[23]

Jansen explores one of the most essential points in Ibn Taymiyyah’s philosophies highlighted in the Farida document. He asserts that Ibn Taymiyyah in this document prescribes two duties: Jihad and the establishment of a Muslim state in which religious law is the universal law.[24] The document would then say that these two duties/ Faridas are as important as praying or fasting or any of the other five main pillars of the Islamic faith.

Ali Benlyazid in his paper “Ibn Taymiyyah: The Godfather of Modern Day Muslim Radicalism”, seconds Jansen’s points and labels Ibn Taymiyyah as the godfather of modern day Muslim radicalism. The Political Science Student at the University of British Columbia follows a similar pattern as the one I use here in this study since he decides to dig in the roots. “In order to fully understand Islamic extremism’s rationale, I believe it’s crucial to first examine when and how the phenomenon started.”[25] He argues that, “13th century ideology found in Ibn Taymiyyah’s teachings have contributed to the emergence of radical Islam, and have been paramount in influencing contemporary Muslim radicalism.”[26] It is in fact not a secret that many terrorist groups quote Ibn Taymiyyah in their narrative. For example, Wahhabis follows Ibn Taymiyyha’s prescriptions, interpreting Jihad following his model.

Juan Jose Escobar Stemman, in his paper “Middle East Salafism’s Influence and the Radicalization of Muslim Communities in Europe”, argues that Ibn Taymiyyah is widely followed by the most radical salafis. The Deputy Head of Mission in the Spanish Embassy in Jordan asserts that, “the most radical Salafis base their interpretation of jihad on the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah.”[27] Quintan Wiktordwicz as well identifies Ibn Taymiyyah as the source of radicalism in his paper “A Genealogy of Radical Islam”. The “Architect of US Counter Extremism Strategy” argues that many radical activists such as Sayyid Qutb and Mawlana Abul A’la Mawdudi quoted Ibn Taymiyyah. Wiktordwicz research shows that “Mawdudi’s work drew extensively from Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyyah, the best known medieval Salafi scholar.”[28]

Now that it is established that Ibn Taymiyyah is widely identified as the base, starting point and godfather of Islamic radicalism according to many scholars, it is time to explore his thoughts to find the logic behind their assertions. Ibn Taymiyyah has been and still is known as “Shaykh al-Islam”, labeling him as the most important and main Shaykh. This is perhaps the reason why he has been so widely followed quoted and many people believe that no one knows the classical texts of the Quran and Sunnah as much as he did.

All three of Benlyazid, Stemman, and Wiktorowicz identify the same incident as one of benchmarks in the beginning of Radical Islam: the Mongols invasion of Dar al-Islam. When they invaded Dar al-Islam, they converted to Islam to show their dominance over the conquered people. The Muslim inhabitants of these areas felt persecuted and constrained and felt the urge to revolt. In order to mobilize the people, many people felt the need to use the narrative of Jihad. However, The Mongols were Muslims at the end of the day, thus raising the question of whether fighting against them was considered legitimate Jihad or not, especially that wars involving two Muslim parties was in some sense unprecedented. Ibn Taymiyyah, however, issued a fatwa declaring the Mongols as Kuffar (plural of Kafir, i.e. infidel) in a process known as Takfir (denouncing others’ faiths and declaring them non-Muslims). The reason behind this takfir, according to Ibn Taymiyyah, was his argument that the fact that one practices all the five pillars of Islam does not mean they are Muslims.[29] In addition to that, Ibn Taymiyyah knew that using jihad, as means to an end would have been more successful since people were more likely to join when told that this is a Farida and these people are not Muslims. Since Islam encourages Muslims to follow those of a leadership position and superior knowledge, Muslims were persuaded to follow Ibn Taymiyyah’s fatwa.

Even though the Mongols converted to Islam, they still viewed Genghis Khan as a divine prophet. This was a total contradiction to the Islamic faith, which regards the prophet Muhammad as the last prophet. To Muslims, viewing someone else as a prophet especially after Muhammad died was probably going to be “regarded as apostasy.” Ibn Taymiyyah, however, took it one step further as he declared the Mongols to be infidels and therefore illegitimate leaders. Then Ibn Taymiyyah legitimized jihad against them despite their commitment to the five pillars of Islam.

Quintan Wiktorodwicz explains this incident from a different angel in his article. Essentially Ibn Taymiyyah’s takfir was based on his belief that “someone who professes to be a Muslim is no longer a believer if he fails to uphold Islamic law or breaks any number of major injunctions concerning society and behavior.”[30] Wiktordwicz quotes Jansen by saying that Ibn Taymiyyah’s list of injunctions is “not altogether clear how many non-applied injunctions bring the ruler to the point of no return.” Where to draw the line, however, was clearer. At least in the case of Mongols it was. According to Ibn Taymiyyah, the rationale was clear as to when one becomes an apostate to have Jihad be legitimate against them: failure to uphold Islamic law. The Mongols did not implement religious laws, but instead, implemented the Yasa code of Genghis Khan,[31] thus they were no longer regarded as Muslims by Ibn Taymiyyah.

Furthermore, one should dig deeper into one of Ibn Taymiyyah’s most famous thoughts: his thoughts on unity. Essentially, he divided the unity of God into two different parts. First is the unity of lordship, which refers to “The belief in God as the sole sovereign and creator of the universe.”[32] This is the mainstream concept of Tawhid in Islam, which is accepted by all Muslims. However, it is the second category of unity that deviates Ibn Taymiyyah’s thought. It is the unity of worship, which signifies the “affirmation of God as the only object of worship and obedience.”[33] This is also followed by almost all sects of Islam, but for Ibn Taymiyyah, this solely depends on following God’s laws whereas other Muslims do follow other sorts of leadership on the basis of obedience that is encouraged by Islam.

While the majority of Muslims view obedience to leadership as encouraged by Islam and therefore turn a blind eye on the philosophies of the leaders for as long as it does not interfere and constrain worship and unity, Ibn Taymiyyah asserts that following human-made laws is analogous to worshipping other than God and thus is considered apostasy, hence his fatwa of Takfiring the Mongols. In other words, the Mongols’ imposition of their Yasa code on the expense of Sharia was to Ibn Taymiyyah a major no. He cited a verse from Quran, which is also cited by various terrorists: “Whoever does not rule by what God hath sent down- they are unbelievers”. (Qur’an 5:47) What Ibn Taymiyyah does here is that he completely neglects the first part of the verse. The full verse reads: “And let the People of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed therein. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed- then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.”

There are two major points that stand out here. First is the fact that Ibn Taymiyyah neglected the part that explicitly point that the people of the Bible should be able to rule themselves with what is revealed to them in their Bible. Moreover, this is a clear example of “Qiyas” which is a “method that uses analogy- comparison- to derive Islamic legal rulings for new developments.”[34] Essentially, the use of Christians and their Gospel/ Bible is only an example to signify the fact that the same should be applied to all sorts of laws that have legitimacy to them. The second part is the difference in translation/ interpretation of the last phrase of the verse. The last word is “Fasiqeen (plural for Fasiq)” in Arabic. A fasiq is “someone who violates Islamic law. However, it is usually reserved to describe someone guilty of openly and flagrantly violating Islamic law and/or someone whose moral character is corrupt.”[35] In other words, a Fasiq is a bad person who is disobedient; Ibn Taymiyyah however, views a Fasiq as a Kafir and an unbeliever. The Mongols converted to Islam and practiced it legitimately including all the five pillars, but just because they had a civil code and regarded their leader as a prophet was enough for Ibn Taymiyyah to denounce their beliefs. This was an unprecedented incident, which gave terrorist groups an argument to use. Along this same logic, contemporary terrorist groups use the same rationale. For instance, Boko Haram rejects any western oriented idea and denounces the faith of the people who follow them. They take it a step further by rejecting western education.

Another Ibn Taymiyyah thought that had a direct impact on radicalizing Islam is the distinction between collective and individual duties/ faridas. Quintan Wiktorowicz in his paper “A Genealogy of Radical Islam” makes an assertion that Ibn Taymiyyah made an argument announcing that Jihad in an undeniable duty. In Islam, there are two types of duties: collective duties (Fard Kifayah) and individual duties (Fard ‘Ayn).[36] Collective duties are those that if one does them, they are no longer a duty for the rest. An example for this is Jihad. During the times of the prophet, not everyone was asked to take part in it because not everyone was a good fighter and therefore it would not make sense to take someone who was not well equipped. In addition to that, the prophet made it clear that jihad was not only about fighting in a battle; instead, there were other different methods through which one can participate such as motivating the people by writing. Fard ‘Ayn on the other hand is the obligatory duty that refers to a farida that is required of everyone such as the five pillars.

According to Wiktorowicz in his paper, a group of Muslims can fulfill the collective duties on behalf of the entire Muslim community. It is like joining the military- if an adequate amount of people joins a state’s military; the obligation of defending one’s nation is fulfilled, thus the need for everyone to uphold such a duty is no longer applicable or necessary. Individual duties, such as prayer and fasting, are obligatory of each Muslim to avoid falling into sin whereas Jihad is collective. However for Ibn Taymiyyah, jihad is compulsory regardless of the situation. He argues that if Muslims take initiative, jihad is considered a collective farida, meaning that it is no longer obligatory if it is fulfilled by a sufficient number.[37] On the other hand, if an enemy is on the verge of attacking the Muslims, then according to Ibn Taymiyyah, “repelling him becomes an individual duty for all those under attack and for the others in order to help.”[38] Consequently, suppose a group of Muslims who are trying to fulfill this obligatory duty fail to do so without any help, it becomes an individual duty for those within the closest proximity. For Ibn Taymiyyah, the Mongols were a threat to all Muslims, thus fighting against them became an individual duty for all.

In different words, Ibn ‘Abidin, a Hanafi scholar maintains that jihad is an individual obligation when an enemy has attacked a Muslim land. It is so for only those closest to the attack, whereas it remains a collective duty for those far away “unless they are needed.” This need is when the group within proximity fails to defend or to adhere to jihad. “In that case it becomes obligatory on those around them—fard ‘ayn, just like prayer and fasting, and they may not abandon it.”[39] Ibn Taymiyyah reiterates that the circle of people for whom jihad is an individual duty expands until it becomes obligatory on the entire people of Islam. He also made sure he addressed the problem of an occupation. He asserted that when an occupying enemy is spoiling the religion, there is nothing more compulsory after faith than repelling him.”[40]

Let us recapitulate Ibn Taymiyyah’s teachings that have directed people to interpret religion in a radical way. Ibn Taymiyyah was different in a way that he prescribed two unprecedented main doctrines. The first one is that jihad in addition to the establishment of an Islamic State are as obligatory of duties as praying is. This means that one is, according to him, a less of a Muslim if he does not adhere to those two doctrines. He even takes it further in his second doctrine, which is the takfir- denouncing one’s faith from Islam. This has always been a red line for Muslims. It has always been considered one of God’s duties via judgment, and one may not interfere in other people’s faiths and denouncing them as infidels under no circumstances. No one can judge others and label them a believer or not, only God can do so. In fact God says in Quran “O believers if you are confronted with a situation, you all should check and make sure. Do not say you are not a believer to those who approached you with greetings of peace. This is how you all were before- chasing life’s benefits but God sent his mercy on you to alleviate you to the right path. So check and make sure. God knows more than you do.” (Nissaa: 94) This is clearly asking Muslims to refrain from denouncing other people’s faiths, yet Ibn Taymiyyah bypasses this verse and completely turns a blind eye on it.

Dr. Mohammed Eleimat cites Abdelilah Belkeziz’s book “The State in Contemporary Islamic Thought”[41] in his Political Islam course at the University of Jordan. He essentially argues that while Ibn taymiyyah probably intended good for Islam and Muslims by freeing themselves from the Mongol occupation, he ended up corrupting a peaceful message by militarizing and mobilizing Muslims. Moreover, he argues that the first portion of Quran deals with questions of faith. Why pray, why fast, why hajj. It deals with the philosophy behind those required duties. The other portion deals with the way a human being should treat his or her fellow human beings. This includes the everyday essentials of the survival of life such as do not kill, do not steal, and do not commit atrocities, and so forth.

The final portion, which constitutes no more than 5% of the Quran talks about the example of the Islamic state of Medina during the times of the prophet. According to Dr. Eleimat, this state was civil not religious. Belkeziz argues that the prophet believed in borders unlike Ibn Taymiyyah. The prophet built relations with the leaders next to his state such as the Romans and Sassanids via the various letters as well as the diplomats he sent while Ibn Taymiyyah views such leaders as illegitimate, infidel, and hostile towards Muslims; therefore, they are not to be adhered to. In terms of modern day international relations theory, it is safe to argue that the prophet was a liberalist while Ibn Taymiyyah was a realist.

Ibn Taymiyyah, according to Eliemat does acknowledge the importance of the first doctrine in convincing people of the message of Islam. He mentions a story of Aisha, Muhammad’s wife, explaining how important it is for faith to be the premier aspect of Islam. This is considered a flaw in Ibn Taymiyyah’s literature. While he clearly believes in the importance of faith as the premier, he ends up using Sharia as the premier aspect of his literature. In other words, he does contradict himself by clearly confessing that Faith is the most important aspect yet suggesting otherwise when he stressed Sharia and to an extent that Sharia should have been the first portion of Quran. This serves, consequently, as a divergent from believing that faith is the premier into believing that sharia is the premier, even more important than faith. Thus making his followers emphasize sharia more than faith, hence the divergence from a peaceful message into a radical one.

Recruitment: Methods and Conditions

Religious terrorist groups derive their narrative from that of Ibn Taymiyyah, which has been reiterated throughout the years until it became an ideology in itself. Whether it is referred to as Wahabism or Islamic Radicalism, the ideology is the same. However, this ideology does not explain the success in terms of recruitment seen by terrorist groups. This section focuses solely on the recruitment methods used by terrorist groups.

When it comes to explaining recruitment in terms of civil war, Paul Collier’s article “Doing Well out of War”[42] stands out. Collier puts forward a mainstream argument by asserting that recruitment methods of rouge groups are reduced to either greed or grievance, while highlighting the latter in the narrative since targets are more likely to join if they believe in the grievance/ the cause. For instance, selling it as getting rid of an unjust regime resonates well with potential recruits who feel a level of grievance towards that regime. While grievance is used as the explicit narrative by rogue groups, it is more likely that such groups are rather greed driven as opposed to grievance driven. Greed is the other side of the coin. Collier maintains that no matter how dissatisfied people are with their oppositions, they almost always want to know that there is some sort of benefit in return, mostly economic benefits.

Collier simplifies recruitment by reducing it to a binary system of either greed or grievance. However, terrorist recruitment is far more complicated than that. Similar explanations to Collier’s are often viewed as single-factor, and they do not depict the full picture. “Most terrorist groups have a laundry list of grievances. It is not enough to address these complaints, as these complaints alone are not a sufficient cause of terrorism. If they were, there would be a far greater number of terrorists in the world committing a far greater number of attacks.”[43] Some of the literature written on terrorist recruitment divides the epidemic into two parts: the first part includes the various methods employed by recruiters while the second part comprises of the conditions that make someone a potential recruit. Furthermore, the addition of these two parts result in radicalization or terrorism, “single-factor explanations overlook the fact that terrorist behavior is an interaction between individual psychology and external environment.”[44] The conditions include the individual psychology while the external environment is either a cause or a product of recruitment methods.

Scott Gerwehr and Sara Daly in their article “Al-Qaida: Terrorist Selection and Recruitment”[45] assert that there is not a single uniform recruitment process. The duo argue that the methods are always tailored to appeal to the audience. In some sense, everyone is a potential recruit; it is then the job of a recruiter to test the waters and reshape the method to best appeal to the target. One can think of recruitment in terms of a liquid that takes the shape of the container. Some scholars go further to argue that it is like a virus that takes a stronger shape whenever a new vaccine/antiterrorist policies are put forth by governments. Thomas Jensen explains that large attacks cause governments to impose harsh counterterrorism policies, which simultaneously increase the number of recruits and smaller attacks. “The long-run consequences of the recruitment effect lead to more counterterrorism, more small attacks, and a higher sum of terrorism damage and counterterrorism costs.”[46]

Marta Sparago in her study “Terrorist Recruitment: The Crucial Case of Al Qaeda’s Global Jihad Terror Network” reiterates the complexity of recruitment as part of the process of terrorism. Sparago in addition to the other scholars mentioned above identify recruiters as the ones who strengthen this virus. She quotes Stewart Bell who argues that recruiters “know what to look for– young men who stand out in mosques and schools, who are devout, intelligent and have skills to offer... the role of the recruiter is to be a talent scout.”[47] In essence, recruiters are the field workers scouting and doing the recruitment. In order to better understand their role, one has to study the various recruitment methods/approaches/models.

There are numerous recruitment methods. First and foremost is “The Net”[48] approach. In this approach, terrorist organizations view everyone as a potential target. The entire population is assumed to be homogenous and perhaps receptive. One of the ways they approach the “primed for recruitments” is through videos. They can send out videos to everyone and those who are receptive will hold on to the net and march their way to join. For instance, Da’ish nowadays employ such an approach through their propaganda videos, most notably their film that featured the burning of the Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh. Another way terrorist groups can employ this approach is through mosques that are headed by imams recognized as radical. Anyone who attend that mosque is essentially bound for radicalization.

Although terrorist organizations are still cautious in this approach as it might expose their secrecy, the net remains problematic to them. It can easily backfire. In the example of Da’ish’s propaganda film with al-Kasasbeh, the terrorist group lost a fine amount of their sympathizers in Jordan, one of the three main sources of recruits. In addition to that, mosques can easily be watched and regulated by governments, making it possible for counterterrorism bodies to catch the net holders.

The second recruitment model is known as “The Funnel”[49] approach. This approach is a reincarnation of the net with some modifications. Instead of viewing the entire population as homogenous and receptive, terrorist organizations target those who seem prone and susceptible to recruitment yet need some change in identity and motivation. Essentially targets start at the wide opening of the funnel and go through tweaking (identity and ideology change) and emerge radicalized at the narrow opening of the funnel. Along the way, recruits would have to demonstrate some sort of knowledge of radicalism or commit ferocious acts of violence to state their ability and commitment. Although recruits can easily drop out, they can still be affected by this form of training. They can even serve as mediators or recruiters for other potential targets.

The next approach is called “The Infection”[50] and terrorist groups use such a model when the society they hope to recruit from is exceptionally hard to penetrate. In that case, they argue that it is best to recruit from within. They seek to do so through sending a trusted agent to achieve recruitment through direct and personal interactions with potential candidates. The agent has to exercise some serious levels of trustworthiness and persuasion. They have to be careful with their targets, but the intention is that their targets will also secretly carry on the work and recruitment will echo and resonate quietly. This approach is most successful with those who do not necessarily possess the radical ideology, but they hold some sort of a grievance or experience high level of dissatisfaction across any spectrum.

The next model is known as “The Seed Crystal”[51] approach. This approach is especially applicable when the conditions are even harder for recruiters to penetrate, more so than in the infection approach. In this case, recruiters cannot penetrate or even send out a trusted agent. Instead, recruiters work on providing the potential context for those in society to seek out “self-recruitment”. When an individual decides to opt in and self-recruit themselves, they often turn into recruiters following the infection approach. Their job is still hard, as many of their targets might decline but the intention is that recruitment would echo.

The aforementioned recruitment approaches are a few of many others and serve as guidelines, whereas the execution manifested in communication relies heavily on direct and indirect instruments. These approaches are mediated through public, private, proximate, and mediated settings/ outlets. This best explains both the recruitment approaches and the recruiters’ role. Examples of these outlets are prisons, refugee camps, festivals, paramilitary training camps, rehab facilities, seminars, schools, TV and radio channels, graffiti, posters, websites, chatting outlets, magazines, newspapers, sermons, and videos. It is worthy to mention that of these outlets, the internet and prisons stand out as most successful.

Mark Hamm in his study “Prison Islam in the Age of Sacred Terror”[52] asserts that research shows high amount of conversion into Islam in American prisons since 9/11 attacks. Hamm highlights that this could be viewed through two different perspectives: first is “alarmist”[53] in a way that this conversion impacts the notion of prisons becoming a hub for Islamic terrorism, while the other stance of the debate argues that Islam plays a major role in rehabilitation. Hamm argues that inmates often times seem to become more religious throughout their sentence periods, which can either cause them to become a source of radicalization or deradicalization.

Hamm notes that whether inmates agree on violence triggered by grievances or agree on deradicalization caused by finding spirituality, prisons remain a place for planning. Inmates network during their detention periods, and they could prove dangerous when they are released. Indeed, Camp Bucca, a US led detention center in the south of Iraq is arguably the starting point of Da’ish. It is reported that Da’ish’ leaders including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were held there before. He in addition to nearly 100,000 inmates were all released in 2009.[54] The released inmates were not on the deradicalization side; instead, they were ready to resume fighting.

As for the Internet, Timothy Thomas in his study “Countering Internet Extremism”[55] maintains that terrorist groups have become more technologically savvy and knowledgeable when it comes to targeting potential recruits online. Moreover, Catherine Theohary and John Rollins in “Terrorist Use of the Internet: Information Operations in Cyberspace” [56] highlights that extremist groups use chat rooms, social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as Youtube channels for spreading their propaganda and ultimately recruiting members. She adds that given the decentralized nature of the internet, it proves to be an effective method of radicalization and recruitment especially that it transcends borders. It serves as a way of radicalizing sympathizers[57] especially western-based sympathizers as well as a way of communicating between the leaders and members as well as potential members.

All of these recruitment approaches and methods are impractical without the other side of the coin: the conditions that make someone susceptible to recruitment and radicalization. Since this study focuses solely on the Jordanian youth as a case study, I highlight the various conditions that are specific to the youth in general and to the Jordanian youth specifically. On one hand, these conditions affect the youth and increase the likelihood of radicalizing them. On the other hand, these conditions provide practical solutions to combat this epidemic.

The best way to describe the perfect target for terrorist organizations are those who “did not find their place in life.”[58] These people tend to be young people of the age category of 15-24, and they also tend to possess certain social, political, economic, and psychological characteristics that make them especially susceptible to recruitment and radicalization. Gerwehr and Daly identify the following characteristics are dangerous. They argue that prone people experience “high levels of distress, dissatisfaction, cultural disillusionment, lack of intrinsic religious or moral belief system, family issues, and personality tendencies.”[59]

Samih Teymur in his article “A Conceptual Map for Understanding the Terrorist Recruitment Process: Observation and Analysis of DHKP/C, PKK, and Turkish Hezbollah Terrorist Organizations”[60] seconds Gerwehr and Daly that prone people tend to be economically dissatisfied, tend to be young in age, tend to have weak or no education, and tend to be single without children. Suleyman Ozeren adds that they tend to be unemployed, often unemployed college graduates, veterans, poor people, minorities, new immigrants, and all dissatisfied.[61]

The main reason why these characteristics are agreed upon in literature is because they are parallel with the most desirable condition terrorist organizations seek: detachment, disenfranchisement, and weak bonds with society. If we were to analyze these characteristics, we find that the prone people are unemployed, meaning they are not attached to a job. They are generally single and without children, meaning they do not have an attachment to a family of their own let alone that family issues with parents would be the icing on the cake, or sadly the last straw that broke the camel’s back. They are also young in age, making it easier for them to withdraw from society. They are generally uneducated or possess low level of education, meaning less chances of acquiring a job and ultimately no attachment to a job. Moreover, they tend to have a lack of moral or religious belief base, meaning no moral barrier to withdraw from society and joining a terrorist organization. Most importantly, though, we find that they experience high levels of distress and dissatisfaction in addition to psychological health issues, whether as a mental illness or depression caused by the issues mentioned above.

The interaction between the two parts of recruitment: the methods and the characteristics/ conditions leads to high rates of radicalization and joining terrorist organizations. Samih Teymur[62] proposes a conceptual map for understating terrorist recruitment. He essentially argues that the political issues, economic issues, social issues, and family issues result in an affected individual with depression and anger and ultimately psychological issues. The various ties with family, society, education, and morality are essential. If these bonds are strong, then the individual is not likely to become a terrorist. However, if these bonds are weak, the induvial becomes detached from society making them a potential target for recruitment. After that, the individual becomes exposed to propaganda through the various approaches (The Net, The Funnel, the Internet, etc). If they find terror justifiable, they might opt in and join the organization in which they undergo political, military, and ideological training and eventually becoming a terrorist.

Samih Teymur, “A Conceptual Map for Understanding the Terrorist Recruitment Process: Observation and Analysis of DHKP/C, PKK, and Turkish Hezbollah Terrorist Organizations,” University of North Texas, August 2007, download from, chart p. 134.

Mental and psychological health issues when combined with a lack of belief system could be dangerous. These characteristics can result in a young person feeling depressed. Overtime and with escalation of their psychological state, they could become suicidal and start to seriously consider achieving suicide. With a strong religious or moral base, they would refrain from ending their lives, as the Quran specifically forbids suicide: “And do not kill yourselves (or one another). Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful” (2: 29). However, when they lack ties to religion, they are likely to achieve suicide. Moreover, this is when terrorist organizations are mostly dangerous with the young people who are suicidal. Essentially, a suicidal young person who is on the verge of ending their lives might be approached by a recruiter to convince them that it is indeed forbidden to commit suicide. A recruiter would not just stop there, though, they would take it one step further to convince them to carry out a suicide attack to end the lives of “infidels”. Their argument is that one becomes a martyr and is promised a better life in heavens with the spouse they never had. For someone who was already thinking of ending their lives, the situation becomes more like a cost/ benefit analysis. If they are convinced that they would get a better life in the afterlife, then they would go ahead and commit the suicide attack.

The Youth Sector in Jordan

Jordan is an important case in this study for many reasons. Historically, Jordan was a target of various Wahabist attacks[63] in the early 20th century particularly on the south of Jordan. Putting aside the detrimental impact of the assaults, they also spread the ideology to these areas. Second Jordan shares a two-hundred-mile border with Syria[64] and another with Iraq with Da’ish reportedly only a few miles off the Jordanian border. Third, Jordan’s economy is rather small with only $5,000 per capita GDP, and the small nation continues to host Syrian refugees with the number is estimated around 1.4 million refugees in Jordan as of 2015.[65] On top of all of these conditions, Jordan is ranked as the third largest contributor of fighters to Da’ish with some 2,000 who pledged loyalty to Da’ish and 1,300 who are fighting for either Da’ish or Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria[66] of the 7,000 Salafi jihadists in Jordan, let alone the highest per capita Jihadis in the world with 315 per 1 million.[67] These are recruits who possess the ability, the grievances, and the commitment to carry out attacks. The pressing question now is why is Jordan ranked this high. In the following section, I study the extent to which the conditions mentioned before apply with the Jordanian youth.

In order to better examine this proposition, one has to study the Jordanian youth sector in some detail. The youth sector is generally defined as the interaction between governmental, nongovernmental, and international institutions with programs run by/ for/ with the youth. The premise is for the youth to take an active role in youth policy-making as well as effective contribution to society.[68] In Jordan the youth sector comprises of the young people of the age 15-24 (give or take a year), the Ministry of Youth and Sports, The Higher Council for Youth, the various UN organizations, other ministries with a mandate for youth, the institution of family, the educational institutions, the cultural institutions, and civil society organizations. Jordan is a curious case because on one hand, Jordan was the first country in the region to launch a holistic National Youth Strategy in 2005. This stems from the belief in the importance of the youth sector in its various aspects. On the other hand, Jordan remains in the top three largest exporters of fighters to Da’ish.

Key Policy Areas

The following is a detailed review of Jordan’s National Youth Strategy of the years 2005-2009[69] including some of the most important statistics explaining the conditions of the youth sector in Jordan.

Jordan is considered as one of the first countries in the regional to launch a major strategy for youth. The National Youth Strategy for Jordan 2005-2009, presented by the Higher Council for Youth and the United Nations Development Programme, in cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund, represents a national declaration by the government as well as all the stakeholders of the importance, support, and priorities when it comes to the development of the youth of Jordan. The document acts as a national vision, framework, and a consensus regarding the development and the active involvement of the Jordanian young people in the various aspects of life.

There is a decent level of cooperation amongst the Higher Council for Youth, UNDP, UNICEF, and a number of youth participants involved as well. There were 90,481 youth participants in listening campaigns and technical committees, ultimately involving various groups of youth from all over the kingdom while maintaining the importance of understanding the uniqueness of each group.

The research for this strategy was conducted using scientific, participatory, and cooperative methods including high level of cooperation amongst the national government, private sector, voluntary organizations, and international agencies. It took 18 months of research and listened with great attention to the insights of many workers from the work sector as well as the voices of a number of youth, particularly their needs and aspirations.

This strategy came as a response to the directions of His Majesty King Abdullah II who called for the needs and contributions of the Jordanian young males and females to become a national priority. In the Jordan Human Development Report of the year 2000, His Majesty has stated that the youth is in fact Jordan’s “greatest asset and hope for the future.” He emphasized the importance of tapping into the youth’s intellectual and creativity in the grand scheme of keeping up with the globe’s social, economic, and scientific development. It also highlighted the importance of launching the youth’s potential towards national public service.

The document includes seven main sections as follows: youth profile, rationale of national youth strategy, guiding principles of national youth strategy, vision statement, 9 priority themes and their respective strategic objectives, and the implementations. The priority themes and strategic objectives successfully identify the multiple important challenges faced by the Jordanian young males and females. The nine themes represent major goals the strategy aims to achieve. The themes/ goals include a total of 27 strategic objectives aimed towards fully overcome such challenges. The strategic objectives represent an action plan, which provides the necessary feasible solutions to the unique challenges faced by the Jordanian youth.

The key policy areas have been identified in the form of guiding principles, mission statement, and especially nine priority themes and objectives. The key policy areas vary from “Participation”, “Civil Rights and Citizenship”, Recreational Activity and Leisure Time”, “Culture and Information”, “Information Technology and Globalization”, “Education and Training”, “Employment”, “Health”, and “Environment.” Each priority theme provided respective objective goals in addition to multiple programs to implement them on grounds to assist in the overall development of the Jordanian young people.

These ultimate goals can only be met with direct youth inclusion in the formulation of this strategy. It attempts to include all the youth including those in remote areas. This is clear in the formulation process as youth groups from the center, northern, and southern cities are consulted. Ideally this means their concerns are to be taken in consideration in the implementation process. Nonetheless, de jure is quite different than the de facto results, as the youth in remote areas are not given the necessary priority to the differences of their statuses when it comes to the resources and opportunities There is little to no mention of their concerns and issues. While they might have been included in the research conducted in remote areas, the uniqueness of their status, issues, and aspirations are under-addressed.

Yet, the suggested programs aim at enhancing youth participation and active involvement in various civil and political aspects. In the action plan, the document proposes that the Higher Council for Youth will have overall responsibility for coordination of the strategy’s implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and revision with collaboration with ministries, civil society organizations and other stakeholders including the youth. The strategy also recommends that the Higher Council for Youth implements action to create and support the operation of a “National Youth Forum” that enables all civil society organization with mandate for youth development to come together to exchange their views and focus on issues and common concerns. It also recommends that the Council creates and supports an ongoing Youth Advisory Group for feedback to the Council on the progress of the strategy and its implementations.

In addition to that, the strategy urges that council to monitor an inter-ministerial committee for Youth Affairs, though the ministries are not explicitly pointed out. This probably includes the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Ministry of Culture. The senior staff of all ministries with a strong focus on youth affairs will meet on quarterly basis to enhance a multi sectional and interdisciplinary approach to youth issues and review progress in terms of the implementation of the Strategy. The members as well as the ministries were not explicitly identified. As for the meetings, they are reported to have been conducted a few times regularly but only to attempt to implement and not so much to monitor.

There is a difference between asking the youth about what they like to do in their leisure time and about if they like to watch TV in their leisure time. In other words, representation is not too evident in the formulating and implementation of the strategy. The level through which the youth are involved is not too clear. While the annexes[70] show the number of youth involved in the research and various programs, that does not show the demographics of such youth groups, and ultimately that does not show whether or not minority and distant groups have been involved or not. Participation/ inclusion is different from ownership. There is a medium level of ownership at the time being for the youth. Their ownership is projected to become higher with proposed programs and reforms, especially their involvement in student councils and political parties and institutions.

Full inclusion of the youth would ideally involve all genders. The strategy attempts to equate females with males when it comes to both formulation and implementation. This does not mean that the uniqueness of their issues had been overlooked. On the contrary, the unique issues faced by the female youth of Jordan, particularly aspirations, unemployment, education, and especially marriage concerns are all taken into consideration. Apart from addressing the issues faced by female youths, the strategy does not mention other gender minority groups. This is most probably due to the conservative nature of the Jordanian government and societal institutions.

In general, the implications for both men and women in this strategy document are taken into considerations. Every theme includes suggested programs to help implement their ultimate goals. The strategy does take in consideration the traditional view of gender roles in the Jordanian society, as in the fathers/ husbands are the primary providers and decision-makers in the family institution while mothers/ wives are house workers and caretakers. A little below half of the poll-takers agree that women are not equal to men in various aspects of society. In fact, 1/6 of the young Jordanians believe that parents should decide on the potentials spouses for young females without their participations. The strategy’s objective goals see the threat this poses and suggests holistic family and reproductive education for both young males and females to help overcome such issues.

Education wise, the document highlights the difference in key aspirations for the different genders; females emphasize the importance of education more while young males consider work to be their primary concern. The strategy emphasizes fulfilling such different aspirations by simultaneously putting forward plans to create more jobs and starting educational programs to highlight the importance of higher education for females particularly.

Despite the document’s short-comings with gender equality and demographic representation, it still highlights a commitment to human rights. The ultimate goal for enhancing human rights is to raise a generation of youth who are well aware of their rights, obligations, responsibilities, and who are active participants in the democratic life. It aims to achieve that through educating the youth to get them to know more about the importance of their participation in political parties, parliamentary elections, student councils, and economic as well as cultural institutions. This has to be complimented with building a culture of democracy amongst the young people.

Ultimately, Jordan is a signatory to the Rome Statute for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, as the first Arab and Middle Eastern nation to also ratify the ICC Statute.[71] It has also signed and ratified a number of international conventions, covenants, and protocols related to human rights. The “Permanent Mission of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to The United Nations” and the Annex IV[72] in the Strategy document list the international declarations that Jordan signed and ratified. This includes but not limited to: The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women; Convention on the Rights of the Child; Convention on the Political Rights of Women; Convention on the Nationality of Married Women.

Jordanian Youth Statistics

- Demographic/ Health

The population under the age of 30 constitutes 74% of the overall population, meaning Jordan is a youthful state with a youth bulge. Though this could be dangerous, the strategy regards the youth as people not problems. Moreover, those between the ages (12-30) represent 40% of the population- approximately 2.2 million as the single largest population group in the country. 25% of young Jordanians reside within the Middle region, half of which resides in the two cities of Amman and Zarqa. 11% and 4 % of young Jordanians are located within the Northern region and Southern region respectively.

According to recent studies, over 90% of young Jordanians had a positive view of their health. Smoking stood at 70% as the most negative factor affecting the health of young people, followed by drugs (7.7%) and alcohol (4.3%). Half of the youth population is concerned about their body weight. There are not adequate preventative health awareness and practices, especially dental. Also there is considerable ignorance about reproductive health knowledge. 5% of young females begin child bearing aged 15-19 years, yet this percentage has seen a huge decline when compared to the 76% in 1999.

To counter these health issues, there are many proposed programs to education the youth about the importance of personal and especially dental hygiene. There are efforts to involve the youth with special needs in all aspects of health programs, through youth mental health clinics and the role of parents as decision-makers in focusing on the youths’ needs, especially psychological needs. The strategy calls the parents to action by raising their awareness of the available psychological health services. It also proposes programs for reproductive education, which is almost always overlooked in the current Jordanian education curricula due to the sensitivity of the subject matter, which is viewed as obscene. It also proposes family planning programs for both current parents and future parents. Such proposed programs are reduced to the fact that 35% of young people see that current awareness programs related to issues like smoking, drugs, and AIDS as ineffectual in addition to criticism of public health services.

- Employment/ Economy

The Jordanian young people suffer from unemployment with 31% of Jordanian young people are currently unemployed. Unemployed 20-24 year olds comprise 41% of the total unemployed population of Jordan. Only 11% of females and 54% of males are working for pay in the 20-24-year-old group. The workforce participation rate of the 15-20-year age group is only 4.6%, and 40% of holders of a bachelor's degree are unemployed.

Most employment is concentrated in the Middle region with 65%. 37% of young employed people work in the public sector and 63% in the private sector. Moreover, the unemployment rate for young females is nearly three times higher than that of young men. Only around 1/3 of all 15-24 years old work. Only 1/8 males considered himself unemployed compared to 1/20 females. Young women have the same opportunity as young men to be students, and thus to acquire work qualifications, yet the percentage of employed males is about seven times that of females. Nearly 2/3 of females aged 15 and over are housewives.

On average, young people start working at the age of 16, although 1/3 before the age of 15. This is mainly for the need to support the family financially. While 80% of young Jordanians like their job, only 1/3 were satisfied with the salary. In fact, in 2003 the average monthly youth salary was only JD 129 (US$178).

Preparing the youth for the job market by increasing the available job opportunities to help the youth become self-reliant as well as eliminating discrimination in the job market are two major challenges. The Strategy seeks to create a National Council on Youth Employment, which is to involve both private and public sectors in addition to youth organizations. The strategy hopes that the council would raise awareness of the opportunities available within the job market and of the status of self-employed as a potential and a liable career option in a way that it encourages the youth to become entrepreneurs.

- Education

65.8% of 10- 24 year olds are enrolled in educational and /or training institutes. By the age of 20, the majority of young women and men have left education, though 20.5% of females and 22% of males continue their education, pursuing a degree at university. Among the 20-24 age group, only 13% of females and 14% of males have not completed less than a basic education. Each year, 130,000 new students join the education system.

A National Youth Survey of 16-24 year olds in 2002[73] provided that “most see education as a way to better work opportunities, and acquiring both personal and life skills. 74% of females and 81% of males in the 15-19-year-old age group see their current education as beneficial for their future. Young males strongly see the purpose of education is for job opportunities, while females value the intrinsic value of education first, followed by understanding problems, job opportunities and self-confidence. The major reasons for not completing a basic education were financial constraints, family pressures, and lack of academic success. 58% of young women who leave education early, do so to get married.”

- Culture, Arts, Sports

When it comes to culture, arts, and sports, youths’ most favorite leisure time activities including watching TV ranked first with 43.4%. Physical activity rated most important activity for young males with 58.5% compared to only 15.6% for young females. Reading rated third most important activity for both genders with 32.1% though twice as important to young females (44.2% compared to 21.1% for males). Only 1.2% of the surveyed sample listed ‘going to a youth club’ in their preferences (and only 0.4% of young females).

The table below highlights the most important youth-related statistics in Jordan:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

What Makes the Jordanian Youth Prone to Recruitment and Radicalization?

From these youth related statistics, one can extract a few major problems that hinder the youths’ attachments- to jobs, to families, and to the society overall. Scholars refer to states with such a high youth population as states with a “Youth Bulge.” Henrik Urdal in his study “The Devil in the Demographics: The Effect of Youth Bulges and Domestic Armed Conflict”[74] reiterates the known hypothesis that the presence of a youth bulge when complimented with weak economy makes the country prone to conflict. “Youth bulges increase the risk of domestic armed conflict, and especially so under conditions of economic stagnation.”[75]

The UN document “Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding: A Practice Note”[76] asserts that there seems to be a mainstream premise made by the popular media and literature that should a society have a youth bulge- particularly a surging male youth population, it would lead to violence and insecurity. However, research shows that such numbers could only indicate which states are prone to conflict, but it does predict the occurrence of a conflict. Indeed, there are many countries experiencing perfect stability and security despite having a youth bulge. Ultimately, there are proximate factors and trigger factors. First some adolescents tend to engage in violence due to transitional biological, psychological, and social development. They might also engage in violence because of material or non-material incentives such as income, resources, and protection.

Jordan has the two conditions necessary for this hypothesis: the bulge with 74% of the entire population and especially the economic stagflation with 31% unemployment rate amongst the youth. There are various contributing factors as well. First, the average salary of a less than $180 monthly. Secondly, university graduates also experience a high level of unemployment with about 40%. Thirdly, most employment amongst the youth is concentrated in the center of the country with 65% of the overall youth employment rate meaning that those in the further areas experience higher unemployment rates.

With the slowing down of the Jordanian economy due to many reasons such as the continued refugee crisis, the job market is suffering substantially. These unemployment rates for the youth are alarming especially when university graduates experience high rates of unemployment. When applying Teymur’s conceptual map to this situation, it is evident that such unemployment for the Jordanian youth can result in psychological issues on one hand, and it means that their ties to jobs are weak on the other hand. This makes them more receptive to recruitment, especially that Da’ish was reported to pay something between $400-$1,200 monthly for its soldiers.[77]

Another issue the Jordanian youth are facing is the increase in the expenses of marriage. Studies show that the increase in expenses has resulted in the increase of the average age of marriage for males from 26 to 29 and 21 to 27 for females in the years 1979 to 2002.[78] In Jordan, marriage is essentially a legal agreement in which the man signs to pay and handle all the expenses of marriage including dowry, the costs of the wedding, a house, educating the children, total daily spending, and a penalty fee to be paid to the woman if the marriage ends in a divorce. Families have been exaggerating in their demands by increasing the amounts of the dowry and the penalty to ensure their daughters’ futures. These conditions have been discouraging for the youth to start a family of their own; therefore, hindering their social ties to families. In addition to that, given that the Jordanian society is conservative when it comes to extramarital relationships, the outcome is that the Jordanian youth can be described as sexually frustrated. This frustration makes the job of terrorist recruiters easier as they promise such youth with wives and even sex slaves.[79]

As for political affairs, the Jordanian youth’s perception of the national parliament and overall political situation reflects that of the total population: disenchantment, apathy, and frustration. This stems from both underrepresentation and parliament’s failures in the past.[80] The last parliamentary elections of September 2016 featured a low voter turnout with only 31%[81] - 37%;[82] reflection of the overall frustration with the parliament. With real efforts to appeal to the youth,[83] the current parliament does not show notable changes as returning parliamentarians comprise a substantial portion despite electoral reforms. Should these issues remain to persist, the youth would only grow more frustrated. Ultimately, these conditions would only contribute to youth withdrawal from society making them more prone to recruitment.

Furthermore, when it comes to youth inclusion in society, there remains to be little work done towards enhancing youth centers. The UNICEF’s “Youth Centers Review Promoting Life Opportunities for Adolescents in Jordan Project- The Final Review of 2001”[84] highlights that there are only 63 youth centers around Jordan, including only 1 mixed center in Amman.[85] The middle region of Jordan includes only 19% of the centers. Moreover, the budget dedicated to the Youth Affairs Department has been stagnant with a minor increase from 241,362 JOD to 266,228 JOD (1997-2001).[86]

In addition to that, the UNFPA’s report “Mapping of Youth Activities in Jordan: Who is Doing What for Youth in Jordan”[87] assert that there is a major problem when it comes to making the youth aware of their recreational activities opportunities. Focus groups highlighted that the outreach/ recruitment methods are ineffective and detrimental resulting in the same faces who might even become discouraged to join. Youth centers’ outreach methods vary from social media advertisements, personal networking, meetings, and partnerships. The report argues that these methods assume high levels of literacy and access to high quality technology such as the Internet, which might not be available to the middle and lower class youth. These methods surprisingly ignore schools and universities where they can target a wider range of audience. They also ignore mosques where they could distribute advertisement posters. This insufficiency and ineffectiveness result in minimal recreational opportunities for the youth. In fact, apart from the numerous football fields available around the country for rent, the Jordanian youth lack facilities for other activities. Such fields in addition to hiking camps and other recreational activities are pricy.

Another major contributing factor is the change in youth perception. While the youth were viewed as the promise of a better future in the past, they are now viewed as perpetrators or victims of violence. Despite the fact that this is not exclusive for the Jordanian youth, they still are not an exception. The UN’s practice note argues that the youth can play a variety of roles during post-conflict times, yet it highlights that there is very limited research done on the situation of youth during post-conflict situations. The fact that such a hypothesis is understudied reiterates the negative perception of youth as perpetrators and victims of violence rather than potential peacebuilders.

The Aljazeera podcast “Al-Mibar (The Podium)” addresses the perception of the Arab youth in an episode under the titled of “The Arab Youth: Lack of Will or Faced with Outside Restrictions.”[88] The host starts with a central question: the youth’s aspirations have changed into merely having a job and a salary that can secure food and seem to be lacking the will and feel restricted. Who is behind that? Throughout the podcast, individuals casted their opinions through phone calls and social media websites. They argued that some governments fear the youth because of their tendency to engage in violence, thus impose restrictions on them.

Young callers argue that they do not participate because they are denied the opportunity and are unable to participate and innovate due to the inadequate support. They are consistently attacked by accusations. They view themselves as resourceful, open-minded, and well connected with the world but do need training. They argue that the current atmosphere in the region is not too receptive of the youth. Political and intellectual issues have accumulated over the years. They are still seen as young, reckless, and incapable of making their own good decisions. They are always fed the sentence “you are young and we know better.”

Some feel that they are always fought by everyone for fear of their potential. That is why dictatorial regimes have deprived them and forced them into submission. The Arab Human Development Report 2009: “States see youth as a burden.” Arab Hoqouqyoun Report argues that “youth do not engage in politics because of fear of oppression, especially of their minds. They have become like a timed bomb and that the failure of governments, political parties, and civil society organizations would only contribute to chaos.” The youth see their problem as absence of opportunity and limited capacities especially that huge resources are put in festivals not in youth development programs. Some Middle Eastern states are amongst the richest countries in the world, yet they do not invest in their own youth, which has led to brain drain.

The older generations argue that the youth of today are too dependent; they do not possess any intellectual merit. They do not have values and lack role models. They have long hair and wear inappropriate clothes. They are unemployed. The older generations thought of themselves as the ones who took the initiative of responsibility and were not waiting for anyone to hand them that. Ultimately, the perception of the youth is negative and only harms their psychology and worsens their ties with society, making them susceptible to radicalization.

All of these aforementioned conditions negatively impact the psychology of the youth. Thus when it comes to mental health, it can be viewed as the last straw that broke the camel’s back. The “WHO-AIMS Report on Mental Health System in Jordan”[89] finds that Jordan lacks the proper facilities to take care of youth with mental health issues. Jordan has not amended any legislations in that regard despite the inclusion of four articles in the General Health Act. With the increase in facilities, training remains to be poor contributing to the overall unsatisfactory care for mental health. Moreover, the social stigma remains to be a real issue and that can be reduced to the lack of awareness programs. The general impression remains to be that mental illnesses are just “young people being soft.” The social stigma escalates the issue and with poor treatment, youth with mental health issues can easily become suicidal. Here is where terrorist organizations are mostly dangerous, as they can easily recruit such youth with the promise of a better life. Then these recruits are generally employed in the forefronts as suicide bombers.


What are the best ways to alter the radicalization epidemic? The process of deradicalization is also referred to as altering radicalization/ terrorism/ extremism, countering extremism, and prevention.[90] There are many counterterrorism methods such as deterrence, preemption, and intelligence. João Ricardo Faria in “Terrorist Innovations and Anti-Terrorist Policies”[91] compares the three methods and concludes that intelligence is the most effective followed by preemption while deterrence seems to be the least effective method. Deterrence is a defensive method whereas preemption is a proactive method. Deterrence can be effective at times such as installing metal detectors in airports, which decreases attacks carried out inside airplanes. However, such methods would only compel terrorist groups to look for different places to carry out their attacks. Faria refers to this as innovation; caused by deterrence. Intelligence is a method that can aid both deterrence and preemption by acquiring the necessary information to proactively spoil the planned attack.

With the exception of intelligence, these methods hardly ever focus on groups’ networks. Thus, they can only minimize the damage done or to be done instead of potentially proactively deradicalize members and potential members. Jared Keller Kevin C. Desouza, and Yuan Lin in “Dismantling terrorist networks: Evaluating strategic options using agent-based modeling”[92] focus on methods through which dismantling terrorist networks can be achieved. Their proposed methods of leader-focused, grassroots, geographic, and random focus well on hindering networks and these methods have shown successes at times and failures at other times. Nevertheless, such methods only focus on destabilizing the network and barely pay attention to the probable scenario of former members of the destabilized terrorist groups reconnecting with each other to formulate a different and perhaps more dangerous group. Da’ish, for instance, has roots in al-Qaida. Thus despite the success in destabilizing al-Qaida’s network and even ending it, its successors in the form of Da’ish and al-Qaida in Yemen are well and alive and probably more dangerous.

In order to prevent such a recurring theme, there has to be more effort directed towards deradicalizing the members individually. Essentially, terrorist groups rely on recruitment to increase their numbers and carry out their attacks. Gerwehr and Daly argue that since these groups dwell on manpower, spoiling their abilities to recruit is a substantial punt for them.[93] Gerwehr and Daly refer to deradicalization in simplest of terms: altering their methods to radicalize and recruit.

However, this is easier said than done. Deradicalization is a process that requires patient, endurance, and serious efforts. Tawfik Hamid in “A Strategic Plan to Defeat Radical Islam”[94] asserts that military action alone is not sufficient, nor can education educational methods overcome it alone. The former member of the Egyptian extremist group “al-Jami’a al-Islamiyya” argues that a combination of both strategies can prove effective to deradicalize terrorist groups.

There are ultimately two types of terrorists: passive terrorists and active terrorists. He argues that passive terrorists are the ones who possess the ideology of radical Islam, follow strict and radical interpretation of Islamic laws, hold anti-Western propaganda, and seem to show mental preservation. He adds that there are a few reasons why young Muslims fall in this trap. This includes; “serve Islam and become more religious; overcome extreme poverty; achieve respect in the Muslim society; feel supported by a powerful community; enter into marriages, which Islamic radical groups often facilitate for their members; or exact revenge on perceived enemies or all of society for negative personal experiences.” Over time, some of these passive terrorist can be persuaded by established members to carry out terrorist attacks and ultimately become active terrorists.

Hamid argues that “Countering the growth of passive terrorism will reduce the supply of people willing to become active terrorists and ultimately lead to fewer terrorist attacks.”[95] Just like there is no single method of recruitment, there is not one single method for de-recruitment as well. Hamid argues that focusing on merely preventing attacks turns a blind eye on the “indoctrination process;”[96] therefore, according to Hamid, the best way would incorporate techniques to counter the various levels of this process.

First and foremost, it is important to address the ideology of radical Islam. Hamid argues that there has to be a new interpretation of Islamic texts that can conform with the current era. Merely educating the young peaceful interpretations of Islam is not enough because they would be taught radical interpretations in mosques. Thus, such a plan has to be complemented with a serious reform of the education system that would first educate the peaceful interpretations and focus on critical thinking, modernity, and humanity. This may improve the young’s mentality when approached by radical recruiters, as they would possess the necessary foundation to deter recruiters. In addition to that, prominent imams have to issue strong fatwas against radical Islam.

Hamid highlights that there has to be serious efforts to address the issues of marriage. As argued before in this research, one of the reasons terrorist groups appeal to the youth especially young males is through providing them with wives as well as promising them of multiple women in heavens if they commit a suicide attack and die as “martyrs”. Hamid notes that a study shows high levels of testosterone amongst young people when they commit suicide attacks.[97] Ultimately, sexual deprivation or frustration is an issue and authorities have to address them, which can prove effective to reduce the supply of terrorists.

In addition to that, since recruiters employ negative images of the west to attract recruits with grievances towards the west, it is important to work on methods to improve the negative image of the west in the Middle East. Hamid refers to food aid sent by the US to Egypt in the 1970s and the 1980s that improved Egyptians perception of the US. This is not an easy process, and it takes time to see substantial results. Another way to improve the image is through movies and songs, which are becoming more popular amongst Middle Eastern youth. The west can carry out a multilateral process to improve their image through campaigns and aid. In addition to that, the west has to use their technological superiority to hinder terrorists’ groups to network, recruit, plan, and finance online.

Ultimately the best deradicalization methods are the ones that alter and hinder recruitment methods while also focus on the conditions that make the target a likely recruit. Teymur’s conceptual map asserts that one’s bonds with family, society, education, and moral belief can be the decider whether they become terrorists or not. If these bonds are strong, then the individual is not likely to withdraw from society and join a terrorist group. Therefore, deradicalization should focus on addressing the issues that result in anger and depression such as political issues, socioeconomic issues, and family issues, as well as strengthening individuals’ bonds with politics, society, economy, and family.

Teymur proposes solutions that can improve the issues. These solutions include governmental solutions for social and economic problems by carrying out successful policies to improve these issues. Furthermore, strengthening the bonds requires close attention to the conditions of the youth who are susceptible to recruitment. Thus, creating new job opportunities for the youth, fighting corruption and inequality, ensure a true democratic system, improve the education system, raise families’ awareness to mental health issues, and paying close attention to released prisoners can all prove effective.

Deradicalizing the Jordanian Youth

When looking at the Jordanian youth, Teymur’s conditions apply given the economic downfall with youth unemployment is on the rise, which is hindering youth’s attachment to a job. Governments have to make sure they provide jobs or carry out serious economic reforms to help deepening the individual’s bonds with society. Given the high cost of marriage, the youth are not able to afford getting married. To alter that, families have to reduce their demands on male youth in order for them to afford it. Alternatively, governments can help ease marriage for the youth. Help from banks such as low interest rate loans to pay for the different costs can be effective as well. Governments can also organize mass weddings featuring tens or hundreds of couples. Ultimately, this will increase the youth’s attachments to families and prevent them from joining terrorist groups.

Simultaneously, there has to be efforts directed towards fixing the negative perception of youth. Since there are limited free-time activities for the youth, they are left with going to places they can afford such as cafes. However, male youths are constantly denied entering malls and boulevards because of their negative actions towards female youths such as catcalling and harassments. Being denied from entering public places would only distance the youth more from society and increase their receptiveness of radical terrorism. This can be fixed in three ways: first male youths should be allowed entering public places such as malls at all times, so that they can feel welcomed in society. Second, there should be more opportunities for youth to spend their free time. The government should increase their support towards youth centers, with these centers improving their outreach methods. Thirdly and most importantly, the number of same-sex schools has to be decreased and turned into mixed schools. This should improve the youth’s attitude towards each other, particularly the way a male young person acts around a female. In general, a female young person is more comfortable when she is surrounded by males who went to mixed schools since they are more used to such situations. On the other hand, males who went to same-sex schools act awkwardly around females, as they were not ever in similar situations before. These three methods together can improve youths’ attitude, which should improve society’s perception of them and ultimately enhance their bonds to society.

Free time for young people can be dangerous, especially when they are denied entering public places. There are serious calls for the re-installment of the compulsory military services, which has become optional and rather lenient. Compulsory service teaches the youth endurance, self-control, independence, strength, and most importantly national patriotism. Patriotism can be the ultimate factor when youth are approached by terrorist groups.

Furthermore, Jordan has to improve their efforts towards optimizing the youth’s potential. Society has to become more receptive of youth innovation as opposed to hindering it. The youth always complain from lack of opportunity and that they are denied the opportunity to innovate, which would only make them feel frustrated with the system and can lead them to depression. This is due the systematic institutionalized system of nepotism and favoritism as opposed to meritocracy. Jordan has to impose heavy penalties on officials and personnel who abuse their positions by picking applicants who bribe them or relate to their families as opposed to the more qualified candidates. This system was employed in Singapore and showed massive successes. They established “The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB)”[98] that enacted acts and laws to combat corruption. Such reforms are expected to increase competition based on meritocracy, which, from economics, increases innovation. Ultimately, the youth will have more opportunity to innovate; therefore, strengthen their ties with society.

They youth who are most susceptible to recruitment also tend to be less educated, thus the education system has to undergo serious reforms. The Jordanian Tawjihi (national high school 12th grade exams) has to go through gradual reform. Since one’s 12th grade national exams composite average determines their major in universities, they can end up studying something they are not truly passionate about. If they fail an exam or more, they may not be admitted to a university in the first place. Moreover, the government may enhance its affirmative action programs to ensure that the youth in underdeveloped areas can also afford good education, especially that such youths are the most susceptible to recruitment.

As for the attachment to a moral belief, the Jordanian government has to monitor mosques better in order to minimize radical and hate speeches. Given the problem of priesthood in Sunni Islam, which is the problem that there is not a clerical/ priesthood system in Sunni Islam that can ensure the presence of high quality and well equipped Imams in mosques, the outcome is that mosques in Jordan are filled with unregulated Imams. Essentially, a person applies to the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs to become an Imam. Imams have to only demonstrate public speaking abilities, time commitment, the ability to live nearby or inside the mosque, and have the minimal education level required. These demands have decreased over the past few years, according to the former minister Dr. Hayel Daoud.[99] He mentions that the ministry posts 400 positions yearly, but only 50-60 people apply of the 100-200 Islamic Studies university graduates. This has resulted in vacancies filled by unqualified people.

In addition to that, the ministry does not monitor the Friday prayers, meaning that mosques can easily be turned into hubs for radicalized and hate speech. A proposed program in Jordan is the “collective mosque project,”[100] which aims at reducing the number of mosques. It will not effectively shut down smaller mosques; instead, it will collect the crowd from smaller mosques into larger ones and send Imams there to give the sermon. The logic behind this program is to “ensure the quality of Friday prayers, and to make sure that they are given by trusted and qualified Imams to reduce random hate and radicalized speech that is not based on any intellectual merit” according to the current minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Dr. Wa’el Arabeyat.

Jordanian youth who join terrorist groups seem to hold grievances against the government. This is apparent from the propaganda videos that Da’ish released featuring Jordanian members setting their Jordanian passports on fire. Thus this can be altered by strengthening the bond with politics through simultaneously reforming the electoral laws and increase youth involvement in decision making. First of all, the authorities need to improve the electoral system to yield a better parliament that represents all people well, especially those in Bedouin areas, villages, and Palestinian refugee camps. It has to advocate for their key policy issues, particularly the youth’s since the last elections’ voter turnout of 37% was rather low.

Secondly, the government has to enhance their efforts towards increasing youth involvement in decision making by treating the youth as stakeholders and partners in peacebuilding rather than perpetrators and a burden. Luckily, Jordan has been leading this prescription globally through advocating and enacting of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace, and Security in 2015. The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted this Resolution, which urges member states to increase representation of youth in decision-making at all levels. Moreover, HRH Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II the Crown led a group youth from around the world to draft the “Amman Youth Declaration,” which resulted in the adoption of a historic and unprecedented Resolution on Youth, Peace and Security by the Security Council. The Jordanian-sponsored Resolution marks a new era for engaging youth as partners in peace building and in countering violent extremism, as well as empowering them to be actively involved in the decision making process.[101]

As for mental health issues, since the Jordanian youth with such issues are most prone to joining terrorist groups as suicide bombers, addressing this issue should prove effective to reduce the outflow of Jordanian fighters to terrorist groups. Essentially Jordan has to escalate its efforts in taking care of youth with mental health issues. They have to comply with the suggestions of the WHO-AIMS by taking a holistic approach with enhancing the facilities, improve the training of the staff, and establish a serious awareness campaign to educate the public, especially families on the importance, seriousness, and sensitivity of such mental health conditions. The ultimate goal is to get rid of the social stigma surrounding mental health illnesses such as depression and increase the number of mental health clinics particularly at schools and universities.


Terrorist groups nowadays use Islam falsely as its banner and youth as scapegoats to carry out their ferocious attacks. Their ideology, traced back to Ibn Taymiyyah, is only a minor part of their recruitment. Their success in recruiting such a high number of youths is attributed to many reasons. Radical recruitment by terrorist groups comprise of the methods employed as well as the conditions faced by potential targets.

Research shows that there is not a single recruitment method; instead, terrorist recruiters are flexible and change their approach depending on the situation and the target. They target those who face minimization and oppression, feel detached and withdrawn, and experience mental health issues. These conditions, which stem from socioeconomic factors as well as frustration with the political and social situations, serve as prerequisites for radicalization. They make the youth more receptive of radical speech and recruitment, exposed to them by the various recruitment and communication methods. Terrorist groups reiterate the narrative that such youth do not have a bright future, as in they cannot acquire the education they desire and therefore will not get a decent job. They promise them everything they are unable to acquire such as money, spouses, place in life, and a support group.

The Jordanian youth possess these prerequisites, which explains the high number of Jordanian fighters who have been joining the likes of Da’ish. They show high unemployment rates, frustration with the economy, lack of job opportunities, corruption, favoritism, nepotism, political frustration and underrepresentation, withdrawn from society, sexual deprivation, negative perception, grievances, and mental health issues.

Just as there is not one way for radicalization, there is not a single deradicalization method either. Protecting them from recruitment is not an easy task. There are various simultaneous methods, which essentially dwell on offsetting the recruitment methods by both countering them and improving the conditions. While targeting the methods by dismantling the terrorist groups’ networks can prove effective in reducing attacks, it does not really focus on the problems of radicalization and recruitment. However, focusing on the prerequisite conditions can reduce the number of recruits as well as improve the overall condition of the youth.

Deradicalizing the Jordanian youth comprises of strengthening their bonds to the political system, to society, to family, and to the economy, in addition to improving their perception and enhancing the care for their mental health. There are some efforts put towards improving these bonds by reforming the religious ideology and the political perception. The “Collective Mosque Project” to be implemented will regulate Friday prayers and sermons given by imams. This will ensure the presence of trusted and qualified imams, which will effectively reduce hate and radical speech in mosques, the hub for youth radicalization.

As for the political perception, two notable Jordan-led documents “The United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250[102] ” and “The Amman Youth Declaration[103] ” advocate for youth involvement in decision making[104]. The argument is that the youth themselves when put in decision-making positions will pay more attention to their own issues and will most probably focus on issues such as education and employment.

Nonetheless, there is work yet to be done to improve the aforementioned conditions. Marriage has to become more affordable for the youth to offset the sexual deprivation that has been effective in youth radicalization. The education system, particularly the Tawjihi exams have to be reformed in addition to enhancing affirmative action. This strengthens the youth’s bonds with society, helps them discover their passion, and improves their job opportunities. These reforms have to be also supplemented with an anti-corruption campaign to ensure the replacement of favoritism with meritocracy. Furthermore, there has to be more effort targeting mental health issues by raising awareness and enhancing the capacities. These reforms, if carried out together, will improve the youth’s conditions, perception, enhance their development, and ultimately deradicalize them and protect them from joining terrorist groups.


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[1] Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding, “Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding: A Practice Note,” United Nations, (January 2016): 7, Note Youth & Peacebuilding- January 2016.pdf.

[2] Nick Robins-Early, “Jordan Has A Huge Foreign Fighter Problem,” The World Post, February 4, 2015,

[3] Osamah Al Sharif, “Jordan and the Challenge of Salafi Jihadists,” Middle East Institute, March 21, 2016,

[4] Jamal J. Halaby, “ISIS jihadists: A thorn in Jordan’s side,” The Arab Weekly, August 14, 2016,’s-side.

[5] Edward Gibbon, “Muhammad in view of scholars”, Islamic Wisdom, Dec 1st, 2015,

[6] Muhammad Khan, Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī: The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari (Riyadh-Saudi Arabia: Darussalam Pub. & Distr., 1997).

[7] Ibid.

[8] IRFI, "War Ethics in Islam: Prisoners of War,"Islamic Research Foundation International Inc,, April, 15, 2009, ethics in islamhtml.htm.

[9] Mohammed Nassir, “Concept and Emergence of Political Islam,” Worde The World Organization for Resource Development and Education,

[10] Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding with Support from PeaceNexus Foundation, "Young People's Participation in Peacebuilding: A Practice Note,"United Nations, (January 2016): 7, Note Youth & Peacebuilding - January 2016.pdf.

[11] Mohammed Nassir, “Concept and Emergence of Political Islam,” Worde The World Organization For Resource Development and Education,

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Johannes J.G. Jansen, “Ibn Taymiyyah and The Thirteenth Century: A Formative Period of Modern Muslim Radicalism,” Quaderni Di Studi Arabi: 391-96.

[17] Ali Benlyazid, "Ibn Taymiyyah: The Godfather of Modern Day Muslim Radicalism,"Global Politikos, (2014).

[18] Juan Jose Escobar Stemman, “Middle East Salafism’s Influence and The Radicalization of Muslim Communities in Europe,” Meria 10, no. 3 (2006).

[19] Quintan Wiktorowicz, "A Genealogy of Radical Islam."Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28, no. 2 (2005): 75-97. doi:10.1080/10576100590905057.

[20] Henri Laoust, "Ibn Taymiyyah| Muslim Theologian."Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Accessed December 9, 2015,

[21] Henri Laoust, "Ibn Taymiyyah | Muslim Theologian."Encyclopedia Britannica Online, Accessed December 9, 2015,

[22] Ibid.

[23] Johannes J.G. Jansen, “Ibn Taymiyyah and The Thirteenth Century: A Formative Period of Modern Muslim Radicalism,” Quaderni Di Studi Arabi: 391-96.

[24] Johannes J.G. Jansen, “Ibn Taymiyyah and The Thirteenth Century: A Formative Period of Modern Muslim Radicalism,” Quaderni Di Studi Arabi: 391-96.

[25] Ali Benlyazid, "Ibn Taymiyyah: The Godfather of Modern Day Muslim Radicalism,"Global Politikos, (2014).

[26] Ibid.

[27] Juan Jose Escobar Stemman, “Middle East Salafism’s Influence and The Radicalization of Muslim Communities in Europe,” Meria 10, no. 3 (2006).

[28] Quintan Wiktorowicz, "A Genealogy of Radical Islam."Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28, no. 2 (2005): 75-97. doi:10.1080/10576100590905057.

[29] Ali Benlyazid, "Ibn Taymiyyah: The Godfather of Modern Day Muslim Radicalism,"Global Politikos, (2014).

[30] Quintan Wiktorowicz, "A Genealogy of Radical Islam."Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28, no. 2 (2005): 75-97. doi:10.1080/10576100590905057.

[31] Ibid.

[32] Quintan Wiktorowicz, "A Genealogy of Radical Islam."Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28, no. 2 (2005): 75-97. doi:10.1080/10576100590905057.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Sheikh Walid b. Ibrahim al-Ujaji, “Qiyas in Islamic Law – A Brief Introduction,” Islam Today, July 3rd, 2007,

[35] “Fasiq,” Islamic Terminology, June 27th, 2011,فاسق-pl.

[36] Quintan Wiktorowicz, "A Genealogy of Radical Islam."Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28, no. 2 (2005): 75-97. doi:10.1080/10576100590905057.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Quintan Wiktorowicz, "A Genealogy of Radical Islam."Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28, no. 2 (2005): 75-97. doi:10.1080/10576100590905057.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Abdelilah Belkeziz, The State in Contemporary Islamic Thought a Historical Survey of the Major Muslim Political Thinkers of the Modern Era, (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009).

[42] Paul Collier, “Doing Well Out of War,” World Bank: (1999),

[43] Marta Sparago, “Terrorist Recruitment The Crucial Case of Al Qaeda’s Global Jihad Terror Network,” Center For Global Affairs- New York University, (2007),

[44] Suleyman Ozeren, “Suicide Terrorism,” in Suicide as a Weapon, ed. Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism, (Ankara: NATO Science for Peace and Security Series - E: Human and Societal Dynamics, 2007).

[45] Scott Gerwehr and Sara Daly, “Al-Qaida: Terrorist Selection and Recruitment,” Rand, accessed October 29, 2016,

[46] Thomas Jensen, “Optimal counterterrorism and the recruitment effect of large terrorist attacks: A simple dynamic model,” Journal of Theoretical Politic s 23, no. 1 (2011): 69-86,

[47] Marta Sparago, “Terrorist Recruitment The Crucial Case of Al Qaeda’s Global Jihad Terror Network,” Center For Global Affairs- New York University, (2007),

[48] Scott Gerwehr and Sara Daly, “Al-Qaida: Terrorist Selection and Recruitment,” Rand, accessed October 29, 2016,

[49] Ibid.

[50] Ibid.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Mark Hamm, “Prison Islam in the Age of Sacred Terror,” The British Journal of Criminology 49, no. 5 (2009): 667-685,

[53] Ibid.

[54] Terrence McCoy, “How the Islamic State evolved in an American prison,” The Washington Post, November 4, 2014,

[55] Timothy Thomas, “Countering Internet Extremism,” Foreign Military Studies Office (Army) Fort Leavanworth KS, (2009) ,

[56] Catherine A. Theohary and John Rollins, “Terrorist Use of the Internet: Information Operations in Cyberspace,” Congressional Research Service, (2007),

[57] Ibid., 2.

[58] Suleyman Ozeren, “Suicide Terrorism,” in Suicide as a Weapon, ed. Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism, (Ankara: NATO Science for Peace and Security Series - E: Human and Societal Dynamics, 2007).

[59] Scott Gerwehr and Sara Daly, “Al-Qaida: Terrorist Selection and Recruitment,” Rand, accessed October 29, 2016,

[60] Samih Teymur, “A Conceptual Map for Understanding the Terrorist Recruitment Process: Observation and Analysis of DHKP/C, PKK, and Turkish Hezbollah Terrorist Organizations,” University of North Texas, August 2007,

[61] Suleyman Ozeren, “Suicide Terrorism,” in Suicide as a Weapon, ed. Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism, (Ankara: NATO Science for Peace and Security Series - E: Human and Societal Dynamics, 2007).

[62] Samih Teymur, “A Conceptual Map for Understanding the Terrorist Recruitment Process: Observation and Analysis of DHKP/C, PKK, and Turkish Hezbollah Terrorist Organizations,” University of North Texas, August 2007,

[63] Joab B. Eilon and Yoav Alon, “The Struggle for the Nature of the Emirate, 1921-1924,” in The Making of Jordan: Tribes, Colonialism and the Modern State, (Tel Aviv: I.B.Tauris, 2009).

[64] Joost Hiltermann, “Jordan: How Close to Danger?,” NYR Daily, March 29, 2016,

[65] Josh Rogin, “US and Jordan in a Dispute Over Syrian Refugees,” Bloomberg, October 6, 2015,

[66] Osamah Al Sharif, “Jordan and the Challenge of Salafi Jihadists,” Middle East Institute, March 21, 2016,

[67] Jamal J. Halaby, “ISIS jihadists: A thorn in Jordan’s side,” The Arab Weekly, August 14, 2016,’s-side.

[68] “International Youth Sector: Overview,” Youth Policy, accessed November 1, 2016,

[69] The Higher Council for Youth, UNDP, and UNICEF, “National Youth Strategy for Jordan 2004-2009,” Youth Policy, December 2004,

[70] The Higher Council for Youth, UNDP, and UNICEF, “National Youth Strategy for Jordan 2004-2009,” Youth Policy, December 2004,

[71] Permanent Mission of the H.K. of Jordan to the United Nations, “Jordan’s Pledges and Commitments,” April 20, 2006,

[72] The Higher Council for Youth, UNDP, and UNICEF, “National Youth Strategy for Jordan 2004-2009,” Youth Policy, December 2004,

[73] UNICEF Jordan Country Office. “Jordanian Youth: Their Lives and Views.” UNICEF. 2002.

[74] Henrik Urdal, “The Devil in the Demographics: The Effect of Youth Bulges and Domestic Armed Conflict,” The World Bank, July 2004,

[75] Ibid.

[76] Inter- Agency Network on Youth Development Working Group on Youth and Peacebuilding, “Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding: A Practice Note,” UN, January 2016,

[77] Jose Pagliery, “ISIS cuts its fighters' salaries by 50%,” CNN Money, January 19, 2016,

[78] “The Cost of Marriage a Burden on the Youth in Jordan,” Alghad, January 31, 2005,تكاليف-الزواج-عبء-على-الشباب-في-الأردن.

[79] William Watkinson, “Payslip reveals how Isis fighter earns only $50 a month but gets a 'sex slave' bonus,” International Business Times, April 25, 2016,

[80] Bethan Staton, “Jordan set for 'historic' vote,” Aljazeera, September 20, 2016,

[81] “Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” Election Guide, September 20, 2016,

[82] Osama AlSharif, “Who are the winners and losers in Jordan’s latest elections?,” Almonitor, accessed November 3, 2016,

[83] Sarah Khalil, “Jordan's parliamentary elections: Between old fears and new hopes,” The New Arab, September 19, 2016,

[84] Widad Adas, “Youth Centers Review Promoting Life Opportunities for Adolescents in Jordan Project- The Final Review of 2001,” UNICEF, 2001,

[85] Ibid.

[86] Ibid.

[87] “Mapping of Youth Activities in Jordan: Who is Doing What for Youth in Jordan,” UNFPA, accessed November 16, 2016,

[88] Muna Salman, The Arab Youth: Weak Will or Outside Restriction, Podcast, (2009; Doha: Aljazeera, 2009.), Television.الشبابالعربيومعوقاتالمبادرةوالإبداع

[89] WHO-AIMS, “Mental Health Systems in Jordan,” WHO, 2011,

[90] Laurie Fenstermacher, “Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies,” Air Force Research Laboratory, September 2011,

[91] Jaoa Ricardo Faria, “Terrorist Innovations and Anti-Terrorist Policies,” Terrorism and Political Violence 18, no. 1 (2007): 47-56.

[92] Jared Keller, Yuan Lin, and Kevin Desouza, “Dismantling terrorist networks: Evaluating strategic options using agent-based modeling,” Technological Forecasting and Social Change 77, no. 7 (2007): 1014-036.

[93] Scott Gerwehr and Sara Daly, “Al-Qaida: Terrorist Selection and Recruitment,” Rand, accessed October 29, 2016,

[94] Laurie Fenstermacher, “Countering Violent Extremism: Scientific Methods & Strategies,” Air Force Research Laboratory, September 2011,

[95] Ibid.

[96] Ibid.

[97] Ibid.

[98] Koh Teck Hin, “Corruption Control in Singapore,” UNAFEI, accessed November 3, 2016,

[99] “The Minister of Awqaf and Islamic affairs in an Interview with al-Haqeqa International,” al-Haqeqa, February 24, 2014 ,

[100] “The Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs enact the Collective Mosque Project,” Awqaf, accessed November 3, 2016,

[101] “Global Reactions to Security Council Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security,” Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, December 9, 2015,

[102] Noëlla Richard, “United Nations Security Council adopts ground-breaking resolution on Youth, Peace and Security,” United Nations Development Programme, December 9, 2015,

[103] Global Forum on Youth, Peace, and Security, “Amman Youth Declaration on Youth, Peace, and Security,” United Nations Development Programme, July 28, 2016.

52 of 52 pages


Youth Deradicalization. Strengthening the Bonds between Jordanian Youth
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Washington College
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Jordanian Youth, Deradicalization, Recruitment, Radicalization, Political Islam
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Mohammed Abu Dalhoum (Author), 2016, Youth Deradicalization. Strengthening the Bonds between Jordanian Youth, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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