Terrorism experts have long known that poverty is a factor in tempting young men to join radical terrorist groups, but what about bride prices?

A new article in MIT Press Journal argues that many young, male recruits who are driven to terrorist organizations for financial reasons are actually aspiring to use the money to help themselves and their brothers get married.  

Many nations, including Saudi Arabia, give financial assistance to grooms as a national security strategy. The authors of the article argue that countries actively funding the war against terror, like the United States, should consider helping men get married as a tool in their arsenal. 

Christina Asquith, editorial director of Across Women’s Lives, spoke with one of the article’s authors, Dr. Valerie Hudson. Hudson holds the George H.W. Bush Chair in the department of international affairs at Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service.

Christina Asquith: How did you catch on to this idea that bride prices might be connected to national security?

Valerie Hudson: As soon as we began looking for little examples of bride prices as a destabilizing factor, it was everywhere. But we in the West don’t have the data. We have only anecdotal evidence.

We opened our article with an interview with the sole surviving terrorist of the Mumbai massacre. And you can find the video of his interrogation online at YouTube, and if you look at the transcription of what he’s talking about, he’s asked: “Why are you joining the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba? Was it jihad?” And he says: “Well, my father wanted me to join so my brothers and I could get married.” And it was…