Development not bombs needed to tackle IS, says priest

By staff writers
September 28, 2014

Western bombing plays into the hands of IS, whereas education, development and support for refugees can begin to address underlying causes of violent extremism.

That is the message of the Rev Dr Giles Fraser, South London Anglican priest, commentator, BBC Moral Maze panelist and visiting professor at the London School of Economics (LSE) in his latest column for the Guardian newspaper.

"IS fighters know that all they have to do is blend into the civilian population. And when the bombs rain down on the innocent as well as the guilty, a new generation of jihadi warriors is born.

"Last time it was al-Qaida, now it is Islamic State – and next time they will be called something else. The bombs might help change the nomenclature but they do little to shift the underlying reality," he wrote on 26 September 2014.

Dr Fraser's comments come as news breaks of huge recruitment to IS in Iraq and Syria following US-led bombing (

"How about we spend our money on education instead of cruise missiles at $1.2 million a pop? At present there are three million Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan, a vast number, with one in five of the boys not receiving any sort of education at all. They are a prime target for IS recruitment officers," writes the well-know Anglican priest.

"On Wednesday in New York, the UK government re-committed to spending £100 million on education for the region, which sounds great. Except that it made that commitment a year ago already, and so far has coughed up only £3 million for a few Lebanese textbooks.

"Education is the best way to help inoculate the next generation against radicalism. But it doesn’t address the public need for visible and quick-fix satisfaction, which is a dangerous itch to scratch. It might make us feel a better for a brief period – mission accomplished, we say to ourselves - but it will have changed little.

"And while we are feeling better, new hatreds are being stirred up in the refugee camps of Lebanon and Jordan. In the long-term fight against radicalism, books are more effective than bombs," he concludes.

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* Huge numbers of IS recruits galvanised by Western air strikes, Ekklesia:


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