A Christian charity in the U.K. has published a research report that identifies five reasons why youths are joining Islamic radical groups, but argues that religion itself is not a main factor.
"The U.K. needs a fundamental rethink on the growing youth radicalization crisis and policies that reflect the complex and multi-layered drivers that lead to different forms of extremism," the Oasis Foundation says in a summary of its "Enough is Enough: Addressing the Root Causes of Radicalization" report published this week.
The Christian group said that it used research from the United Nations and MI5, the British counter-intelligence and security agency, which allowed it to determine that many youths who join the Islamic State and other terror groups do not practice their faith regularly.
It found that many such youths take drugs, drink alcohol, and visit prostitutes, all of which are forbidden for Muslims.
The Oasis Foundation listed five major causes for radicalization that it insisted are more to blame than the religion itself.
The first factor it pointed to was ideology, and said: "Although the report is critical of an over-emphasis on ideology in public debate — and a general misunderstanding of what the term means — it recognizes that ideology is clearly one of the drivers of Islamist radicalization. However, ideology is a complex concept and one that politicians should handle with far more care than is often the case."
Next it looked at identity, connection, belonging and purpose.
"Questions of ideology are intimately linked with matters of identity, connection, belonging and purpose. Academic consensus points to those interconnected factors as significant drivers of both Islamist and gang-based radicalization," the report said.
Thirdly, it analyzed deprivation and economic marginalization.
"Where data on underlying deprivation is available, 82 percent of Islamism related offences between 1998 and 2015 were committed by individuals from the 30 percent most deprived areas in the U.K. Similarly, research has established the critical link between unemployment and the increased involvement of young people in gangs," Oasis said.
The group argued that mental health is also a major factor, especially when looking at lone wolf terror cases.
"A recent police study of 500 cases dealt with by the Channel anti-radicalization scheme found that 44 percent of the individuals involved were assessed as being likely to have vulnerabilities related to mental health or psychological difficulties, with a further 15 percent assessed as possibly having such vulnerabilities," the report stated.
"Similarly, gang members have significantly higher levels of mental illness than both men in the general population and non-gang affiliated violent men. Eighty-six percent of gang members were identified as having antisocial personality disorder, 67 percent alcohol dependence, 59 percent anxiety disorder, 58 percent drug dependence, 34 percent suicide attempt, 25 percent psychosis and 20 percent depression."
Finally, the charity assessed community and family breakdown. It pointed to research that has explained how "attachment insecurity and poor parental bonds to adverse outcomes including conduct problems and delinquency, violence and poor mental health" have contributed to radicalization.
Such factors, it positioned, push young people to look for belonging, which sometimes leads them to gangs.
Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis, said that the issue of radicalization prompts society to ask profound questions.
"Today's report casts significant light on both the challenges and more considered responses that lay ahead," Chalke said.
"Fundamentally, however, all of us involved with nurturing young people — parents, teachers, family members, religious groups and countless others — need to be united in our quest to convince each young person that their life matters. If we don't, someone else will."
Various other reports and analyses have also suggested that despite their statements, groups like IS do not operate based on their devotion to faith. Victims who have been used or prepared to be used as brides for IS fighters have said that a lot of the jihadis are "sex-obsessed."
"They say they want to jihad for the sake of Allah, but what they want is only about women and sex. It's disgusting," an Indonesian woman named Rahma said in a CNN report back in July.