Living, Loving, Thinking



Emma Graham-Harrison*1 “Attackers united by youth and driven by a search for meaning”


Divided by geography, ideology and method, the majority of terror attackers and their radicalised networks nevertheless usually have one thing in common – their age.

Extremist beliefs appeal to people across gender and class, religion and race, and where there are organised groups their leaders and key recruiters may be older. But the large majority of their supporters, footsoldiers and lone killers tend to be united by youth, across continents and regardless of motive.

From far-right attackers such as Dylann Roof, who had recently turned 21 when he killed nine people in a Charleston attack*3, to Islamist militants such as the Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi, aged 22 when he blew himself up outside a concert and killed 22 people*4, perpetrators are, again and again, in their teens or twenties.


(...)Young people tend to be more open to risk than their elders, a tendency highlighted by a range of data from everyday life; adolescents are more likely to be involved in a car accident and much more likely to commit a crime.

Scientists are still arguing about reasons for this behaviour, which may be driven by the chemistry of still maturing brains, or outside factors including lack of experience needed to evaluate risk. But the same factors that influence some young people to hit the accelerator may make others more likely to prepare an attack or travel to combat zones. They are also more likely to be searching for meaning and purpose in life, something that extremist ideology and hate groups can offer, usually through their dark, but simple, world view.

“It’s especially young people who we see involving themselves in far-right groups, just as we have seen young people turn to Islamic extremism,” Benjamin Abtan, president of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement*5, has written.

“(They) bring a meaning that transcends the individual, that allows one to raise their head, to rediscover their dignity, to make sense of the suffering around them, and to feel reinvigorated with hope for the future. For young people and others alike, this is an attractive proposition.”


The internet can facilitate radicalisation, allowing young people to retreat into a virtual community with a reinforcing sense of fellowship. Fighting and attacks also offer a chance to travel, the suggestion that they are helping others.

まあ新しい視点ではない。でも、昔からさんざん言われてきたこと故に、そう間違ってもいないとも言える。青年期が危機的(critical)な時期であることはいうまでもない。ただ、エリクソンのライフ・ステージ論を引くまでもなく、どのライフ・ステージも特有の課題に向き合わなければならない危機だともいえるだろう。その危機の深刻さが青年期と比べて重いのか軽いのかは簡単に言えることではない。今年3月に起きた倫敦ウェストミンスタ―襲撃事件の犯人Khalid Masoodは52歳のオヤジ・テロリスト。「ヨーロッパにおけるイスラーム主義に基づくテロには(マイノリティの)青年文化の色彩が濃厚だという印象をこれまで持ってきたが、50を過ぎたおっさんが突然思想に覚醒してテロリストに変身するということ自体が吃驚」と書いたのだった*6


新装版 青年は荒野をめざす (文春文庫)

新装版 青年は荒野をめざす (文春文庫)



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