Thousands of young Europeans have joined the jihad. This essay looks at the reasons why the holy war is so popular among this cohort. While failed integration policies and widespread online media recruitment remain crucial for understanding this popularity, these explanations alone are too simplistic. Personal knowledge of other young fighters and fundamentalist imams, a lack of guidance resulting from the absence of fathers, trauma, and a kind of “outsiderism” akin to the one seen among early Nazi recruits in the 1920s are also similarities found in many of the young volunteers’ biographies.

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