State Dep’t Official: Boredom, a Desire to Belong, Marginalization Drive ‘Violent Extremism’

Factors driving individuals to “violent extremism” range from boredom to “perceived adventure” to a desire to belong; while conditions conducive to its spread among communities include “social rejection, political disenfranchisement, and economic exclusion,” a State Department official said Tuesday.

“Yet the phenomenon of political, economic, and social marginalization as a driver of violent extremism is not new, nor is it synonymous with any single region, religious tradition, or culture,” said Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall.

“Marginalization remains a strong ‘push factor’ for many individuals and groups, and it creates a vulnerability to the ideological and charismatic ‘pull factors’ that these terrorist organizations exhibit. Extremist narratives become more intellectually and emotionally attractive to marginalized communities.”

Speaking at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Sewall said many factors drive individuals to embrace violent extremism – the Obama administration’s preferred term for Islamist terrorism.