The rise of violent extremism is only at the early stages, and if the West wants to stem the flow of volunteers to these ruthless groups, Western countries should make a concerted effort to engage and understand the nuances of their Muslim communities, especially the families from which these volunteers are coming.
The public discussion about the causes of violent extremism has focused mainly on the socioeconomic and political conditions that exist in Arab countries. But we must also carefully consider how the events in the wake of World Wars I and II have impacted the psychological disposition of the Arab population throughout the Middle East.
The United Kingdom's search for Jihadi John, the masked, British-accented fighter who appears in videos and beheading of foreigners condemned to death by the Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls a swath of Syria and Iraq, has highlighted the significance for militants of soccer as a recruitment and bonding tool.
Critics of the coalition may see military action as a threat and think that it will only intensify the problem. However, such critics seem to be ignoring that it was the inaction towards the atrocities in Syria and the failed state in Iraq that resulted in the swelling of ISIS's ranks from a few hundred to nearly 30,000 according to the latest estimates.
ISIL leaders have connections in the black market of international finance. The real intelligence needed to understand what is going on in the region is not targets for the U.S. Air Force, but the type of financial intelligence General Petraeus tasked General McMaster to find in Afghanistan in 2010.
Historically, effective resistance to excessive Islamization in Muslim-majority countries has often been headed by the military, as champions of secularism. This has been obvious in the modern history of the Middle East. Where monarchies have reigned, Islam's role has been harder to predict. And so in Brunei, a stable country living off oil wells, the sudden implementation of hudud has left many baffled. The government has suppressed social media response against the sudden imposition of hudud. Whether the whole exercise is simply the whim of an autocrat or long-term strategic politics is too early to determine.