I asked the head of the school, a gruff, uniformed major, what the root cause of radicalisation was.There's some truth to this. Australia provides aid to Indonesia so children are educated in sectarian schools rather than being potentially radicalised in a madrassa. Indeed many of the Taliban were educated and radicalised in madrassas in Pakistan teaching Wahhabism.
What was the fundamental, underlying reason why these boys could be convinced to kill in the name of a distorted religious interpretation, to don a vest they knew would kill them and walk towards a target?
“Poverty,” he said.
“It’s poverty, and that comes from a lack of education.”
Boys in school, he explained, didn’t grow up to become suicide bombers. Young men with good jobs didn’t run away to the hills to join the Taliban.
Literate girls go on to lift entire families from poverty. Women with an education don’t allow their sons to be radicalised.
The cost now might seem too high, but Pakistan must keep its children in school.
That’s how the war will be won. And the whole world will benefit.
However, it's not the whole story. It doesn't explain many of the people fighting for ISIS and similar groups in Syria and Iraq. Many of them received a reasonable level of education. And yet they have also been radicalised.
We also should also not forget that many terrorists in western countries in the seventies and eighties (e.g the Red Army Faction) were highly educated.