What do "The Walking Dead" and Jihad have in common?
In my opinion it's the same as with emigrants: Those who are unsatisfied with their life (because they achieved little) just like the idea of giving this life up in exchange for another one; one without the known restrictions (even if they will be replaced by others). I'm sure this makes up a large part of the fascination of emigration, post-apocalyptic fiction, 'Jihad', the Légion étrangère and possibly even professional military service in general.
Let's add Pokémon, Avatar and all the other youth fiction about young people going on a journey without parents. Seriously!
Back to 'Jihad': A n unpublished statistical survey (FAZ article here) of those who left Germany for Syria for religious motives in the last years ('Jihad') revealed that these people were a very varied group, but basically losers. Almost none of them made it past a very low income job, for example.
378 travellers were studied
322 believed to be Jihadists
125 of them were 21 to 25 years of age
Half (of the 378) were married
104 had children
61% were born in Germany
duration of life in German society was not correlated strongly
37% had German nationality only
24% had German and another (mostly Moroccan) nationality
14% were converts
249 (of 378) had committed crimes previously (including drugs)
only 18% were apparently motivated by propaganda
30% by friends, 23% by Salafist mosques
Another study claimed a while ago that 60 people from Germany had died in the Syrian civil war.
There are always people in a society who feel as losers unless the society is perfectly equal. We're not going to get rid of this fact of life. People wasting themselves in a foreign civil war is a fringe phenomenon and fringe problem of the society. We shouldn't make it mainstream by sending troops into such conflicts as well.