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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of recruitment : the making of the ideal Islamist extremist in Pakistan Cooper, Meaghan Elizabeth


Insurgency has become unmanageable for the Pakistani government during the last decade, increasing the concern over Al Qaeda’s brand of Islamic fundamentalism, and leading to a series of ineffective counter-terror policies as a result. This paper seeks to investigate what tactics are currently employed as militant recruitment strategies to verify what individuals and groups are desired as potential candidates for enlistment. An identification and analysis of the requisite qualifications will therefore confirm Al Qaeda’s potential for expansion and the threat level this generates within Pakistan. Upon an assessment of Al Qaeda’s goals and the type of skills they require to achieve them, this paper formulates a model of recruitment for Al Qaeda and affiliated organizations operating within Pakistan. This model finds the ideal recruit will be male, characterized by a high level of education or experience related to the assigned undertaking. In addition, some element of political dissatisfaction and evidence of support for Al Qaeda’s intention to substitute Pakistan’s secularism for its universal system of Islam must be exhibited. Through an analysis of descriptive statistics, existing literature, and the methods of recruitment pursued by religious extremists, this paper concludes that the availability of Al Qaeda’s ideal recruit is extremely limited, which results in a lowering of standards and consideration of less sophisticated volunteers. This imbalance of supply and demand in combination with a set of contradictory objectives will continue to hinder Al Qaeda and other fundamentalist operations from gaining anything more than a narrow support base.

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