'A popular misperception'

It seems like every terror attack brings more articles on how everybody is surprised by the identity of the terrorists

The BBC talks about the popular misperception:
The news that many of the suspects in the failed car bomb attacks in Britain are medical doctors from the Middle East has shocked many and raised questions about connections between class, education and militant Islam. There is a popular misperception that only the destitute or ill-educated are drawn to the ranks of militant Islamic organisations. But nothing could be further from the known facts.
Wouldn't people know after so many years of Islamist terrorism that the "popular misperception" is false? Maybe it says more about what is popular than about Islamist terrorism. After all, were Islamist terrorists ever destitute or ill-educated?

As the Associated Press points out, even doctors as terrorists is not new.

``People often assume that terrorists are poor, disadvantaged people who are brainwashed or need the money. But the ones who actually perpetrate violence without handlers and manipulation are highly intelligent by necessity,'' said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.

``It's only the smart ones who will survive security pressures in a subversive existence. Sometimes they are doctors, a profession that provides a brilliant cover and allows entry to countries like Britain,'' he said in an interview Tuesday.

Berlingske Tiden describes the stereotype MI5 were expecting. I actually thought they were joking at first:
A young, foreign man who grew up in Great Britain, but who traveled home in his teens, for example to Pakistan, where he was radicalized by local imams . Fired more by adrenalin than intellect, they had no future in British society. If family connections didn't supply them with a job, it was very likely that would live a life without work and in relative poverty, while their bitterness against British society would slowly build up until it erupted.

A British born terrorist is the stereotype? Weren't the July 7 attacks so shocking because nobody expected Muslims born and bred in Britain to blow up his fellow citizens? Additionally, is this really the stereotype of British Islamist terrorists? Do Abu Qatada, Dhiren Barot, Mohammad Sidique Khan, Germaine Lindsay or Richard Colvin Reid fit this stereotype?

Any suggestion of profiling Muslim today is met by accusations of Islamophobia. But given the surprise that greets every new terror attack, why is it wrong to say that Islam is the only thread connecting Islamist terrorists?

Source: BBC (English), Guardian (English), Berlingske (Danish)

See also: Patterns of terrorists shifting

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