Habibi, Popal, Class of 2015 – (Afghanistan)

Practicum Summary:

Research on why youths are sacrificing their lives and committing suicide for militants: a study on the influence of culture, location, and economy on their decisions

Popal Habibi’s research identifies the comparative factors that motivate youths to join militant groups in Afghanistan. Research was collected by interviewing 38 individuals including youths who returned from militant groups, their family members, community members, and members from rule of law agencies. Also, two case studies discuss the recruitment stories of two youth who returned from militant groups. The research shows that militants are developing their own recruitment plans based on community context, ethics, and personal interests of the youth. Unintentionally, youths have fought for the personal interest of groups, countries, or leaders for decades. In the Nagrahar and Parwan provinces of Afghanistan, the majority of youths interviewed were motivated by wrong religious information, poverty, family conflict or unemployment, as well as in some cases, gaps between the government and local people as a result of a weak government. Another factor includes the government’s inability to provide basic services to the community, resulting in mistrust in the government as well as desire to join militant groups for economic and security reasons. A lack of accurate information on the motivation factors associated with recruiting youth creates problems and confusion in the policy design for constructing counter-narratives and interrupting the youth recruiting processes. In his findings, Popal determined that the militant’s recruitment process is different for each individual, taking into consideration ethnicity, education, interest, culture, and age. In order to prevent militant recruitment in the future, Popal recommends creating sessional workshops and seminars in government peace and stability programs on relevant contextual subjects revising the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program for those who are returning to a peaceful life in a secure place after being involved in a militant group, strengthening the rule of and justice system, and identifying what youths are specifically looking for and providing them with a desirable alternative.