Marc Sageman, former CIA officer who worked with the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s and early 1990s and now practices clinical psychiatry, reports:
"If there's one thing they have in common … it is that they have had very insignificant lives.
"You have a lot of people who are bored out of their minds.
"Joining this movement brings significance to their lives.""They live a parallel life, a virtual fantasy life. They assume an online persona that's more violent and significant than real life. Exaggerating the terror threat only (feeds) terrorists by enhancing their sense of power."
Jihad Watch has a different take on their motives:
Here's a ... hint: None of the jihadists are Methodists. Or Hindus, Unitarians, Catholics, or Buddhists. And yet, there are plenty of Methodists, Hindus, Unitarians, Catholics, Buddhists, and others who are either bored, feeling stuck in rut in life, or who feel a need to seek out and serve a higher purpose in life than material success or the well-worn routine of their possibly quite comfortable existence. How many of them are carrying out bombings and other crimes in the name of their religion?