Why Are So Many Terrorists Engineers?

Emmanuel Sivian says..engineering as a field of study and a profession tends to attract people who seek certainty, and their approach to the world is largely mechanistic. So they are characterized by a greater intolerance of uncertainty – a quality that is evident among extremists, both religious and secular.

And in the Arab world, that mindset poses particular problems:

First, cognitive dissonance, in other words, high expectations that end in bitter disappointment. In the Arab world the standards for being accepted into engineering programs are very high and the studies are demanding. On the other hand, work in the enormous public sector is routine, wages are low, subjection to hierarchy is humiliating and the position's social status is moderate – unless they are willing to go abroad to the United Arab Emirates, (which is how it is seen) from Cairo, Amman and Damascus. There wages are good, but amid social isolation and cultural desolation.

Today, employment in the Gulf is less available than even in the 1970s. In-depth interviews and focus groups have shown that Muslim engineers tend to interpret this situation as an expression of fundamental injustice that characterizes their societies, and from that the distance is short to viewing the radical Islamist solution as representative of the egalitarian ideal.

Second, it can be assumed that in technological fields, a young Muslim faces Western superiority (including the superiority of Japan, China and South Korea). How can this inferiority be explained in the Muslim world, which in the past was at the cutting edge of scientific progress? That Islam is in decline. Whoever aims to stop this decline and opposes blind imitation of the West to preserve his cultural uniqueness will find many people sharing the same outlook among the radical Islamist groups.

Source: Why are so many would-be terrorists engineers