Research has uncovered no single profile for European jihadis, quite the contrary. They may be idealists, indigents, privileged, drop-outs, university graduates, psychopathic, or completely sane; former drug addicts or straights, men or women. He or she may come from a ghetto or a wealthy suburb, be born Muslim or a convert; may have traveled to Syria or Pakistan or simply been inspired by social media. Most European Muslims emigrated from Sunni countries like Algeria, Pakistan, Morocco, and Turkey, and therefore Europe’s jihadis are mainly Sunni. If he is Sunni, Shias are number one on his hit list (and vice versa if Shia), followed by Jews, homosexuals, and Westerners, not to mention cartoonists who publish images of Mohammed.
What they hold in common is a synthesis of revivalism and anti-imperialism. That Islam needs to return to the days of Mohammed and his companions (Salafs) the “corruption” of their parents’ traditional Islam. They long have blamed the West for the perceived degeneracy of their culture and armed interventions in Muslim lands. And their anti-Semitism, while hardly new, has been intensified by events in Gaza and by growing echoes from other European quarters.
But there is something really new here.