My thesis seeks to integrate and develop the ideology of the long-life march of political Islam. From the early birth in the 1700s to the current year and hypothesize the future outcome of this phenomenon. In the 21st century we have been accustomed of familiarizing Islam to the brutal perspective to which a very small portion idealize themselves Muslims, Terrorists or extremist groups. From their inner beliefs of salalfi-jihadism to the golden age of Islam and the proclamation of a New Caliphate. Nonetheless to begin with must start by the pillar concept of what constitutes Islam. Indeed, Islam means “submission,” deriving from the term “peace”, a submission of our inner will and strength to follow a certain life to get rewarded in the afterlife, by all mighty god.
The term Muslim dictates one who follow Allah ethical way of living for the afterlife its an exam for what he has preserved for oneself in the afterlife. We must never undermine what are the push factors which constitute a believer and this come to two main subtopics which are of equal importance. The first one is “jihad” when it comes to our thoughts, we generate controversy and dilemmas, due to a simple reason of terrorist jihad. Nonetheless in other words “jihad” even though it has numerous different significances in Islam. As a matter of fact, now a-days there are two billion Muslims worldwide and we are accustomed to naturally link the term “jihad” to just a limited and straightforward meaning of a violent behavior which constitutes fear and chaos, as a result could be seen in the eyes of Muslims as a sign of ignorance and blasphemy. None the less, the term is widely used in the Arab and Muslim world simultaneously both by supporters and critics to indicate groups that use religiously motivated violence to achieve their political goals which makes it a very difficult paradox of antagonist views. The term Jihad incarnates three crucial and essential pillars: A believer’s internal struggle to strive and follow the Muslim ideology to the fullest, the second one is the effort to construct and maintain a good Muslim society, and finally, Holy war: the fight to defend Islam for their life. The Muslim dynasty is divided among two factions who are the shia and sunni, Sunni Muslims, statistically, make up an 85 percent majority of Muslims all over the world. However I must specify the literal distinction between: Sunni and Shia Muslims. This difference arose from a mislead belief over the sequence of Muhammad’s successor who was the last prophet that Allah sent on earth.
The second very vital term which most of the times people are not aware of is: “Salafism” most extremist and terrorist groups rely of these two dynamic terms: salafism and jihadism. Most Islamic radicals and extremists nowadays consider themselves as salafists as its is the right way and how religion commands, as a result that they are willingly forced to act according to the salafi teachings. Followers of salafism are evaluated by their strict and persistent reliance on religious sources and teachings from the earliest periods of Islam. Salafism is the product of the transcripts; the Qur’an which is the the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. Salafism was introduced in the nineteenth century religious reformers Jamal ad Din al-Afghani and Rashid Rida. Many radical Islamists, such as al-Qaeda, believe that jihad is an long life duty for all loyal Muslims to follow so they are able to protect their religion, they are willing to give their life to keep Islam safe and untouched if not they are seend as infidels to the eyes of God. Consequently, salfi-jihadism has come to be known as religious-political ideology on a cemented belief in violent Jihad in other words on a life-long struggle. State terrorism is very similar but has a completely different interpretation of which includes everything from the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution; through the Stalinist purges, trials, and camps; to the current issue of the Bashar Al-Assad and its iron fist reign, state terrorism is important and should be studied and theorized, however it is not the focus here. Instead, the fundamental issue is terrorism by sub national or transnational non-governmental groups, defining it as the premeditated use of violence by a non-state group to obtain a political, religious, or social objective through fear or intimidation directed at a large audience. 1
The radical element here is terrorism which has become international phenomena, where the perpetrator, target group, or national locale of the incident involves at least two different countries.
There have been vast terrorist factions, some are global and others are centric, there are a few points that are important to highlight. Al-Qaeda was initiated at the end of the 1980s with the intention to protect their homeland since the Afghani-soviet war. Al-Qaeda seeks a traditional approach, they have positioned themselves to promote and build alliances with local affiliates and authorities. Moreover, Al-Qaeda’s individual objective is the same as the Islamic State’s to redefine society and implement sharia law to govern it the way god has advice them to do. However, they differ in methodology and timeline as ISIS has acquired the roots of Al-Qaeda and exponentially grown, ISIS is an international political extremist actor, while al-Qaeda was a nationalist extremist political actor. ISIS since 2013 has ruled ruthlessly and killed merciless people throughout its stronghold, they are unwilling to stagnate and its behavior is unlikely to change whatever the incentives. Nowadays, al-Qaeda has become a political protagonist with extremist beliefs ready to expand their with their affiliates worldwide. Contemporarily, ISIS’s main quest is to pursue Salafi-jihadist states through a never-ending head to head confrontation both within Muslim majority countries and outside them.
ISIS, straightforward solution to purify the world from infidels is war, to expand and dominate the Muslim world. Al-Qaeda’s strategy is more scholarly, all Muslims must be educated first on sharia and of jihad to defeat the imminent threat from the outside world. It has made connections and spread its ideas with communities and eventually build a Salafi state. Likewise, they have the same intentions; however one is more radical than the other, ISIS portrays itself as more successful strategically than al-Qaeda, with more lust for the power to gain territory. As a matter of fact in just a few months, it seized various cities and declared a caliphate. On the other side, al-Qaeda’s achievements have had a downhill verge giving them an advantage of invisibility.
Jihadism has had a never ending cycle since its birth in the late 1970s, now several groups are trying take the Arab world with a so-called caliphate. There is a history which explains the rise of these fatwas in the past for decades, since the start of the 1970s, commenced with a very important event of the early stages of jihad with the Egyptian radical Islamist and theorist, Mohammed Abdul Salam Faraj2, who as a matter of fact wrote a booklet entitled The Neglected Duty, is the spark to the emergent jihadist groups. He argued that ever since Muslims had neglected jihad in the sense of violent struggle, they focused mainly on the inner struggle against their baser instincts. Nonetheless, Faraj led the way to fight against the “near enemy” which included local Muslim regimes was far more important than the fight against the “far enemy” which were not Muslim threats.3which then gathered jihadist who murdered their own head of state.
The spark to jihadism commenced following Sadat’s death, Egyptian security forces launched a military assault on jihadists forcing them to leave the country to other countries who were facing the same ideology, the ideal place at that time was Afghanistan, where a jihadist battalions were gathered following the Soviet- Afghan war which lasted nine years, they seeked a new leader, who was the man who led the radical groups known as the mujahedeen’s confront the Soviet army? This coalition between the mujahedeen’s and the soviet army was backed up by Abdullah Yusuf Azzam4, worldwide known for hie contribution of global jihad, who like Mohammed Abdul Salam Faraj was a founding member of Al-Qaeda and absolutely supported the defensive and offensive tactics jihad by Muslims to help the afghan mujahedeen’s against the soviet army.
Adullah Yusuf Azzam who later on became Osama Bin Ladens mentor, to which we all know was the commander of the jihadi group which in Arabic means “the base” it was actually a metaphoric way to make insurgent groups join global jihad. Azzam came up with the idea jointly with Bin Laden to institute a base for all mujahedeen jihad foreign fighter and recruit them in one main faction, to the birth of Al-Qaeda. Bin laden’s apprehension was the occupation the two holiest Muslim sites in Saudi Arabia which are Medina and Mecca by the U.S. forces during the gulf war between the 1989 to 1991, was see outrageous by Bin Laden consequently offered to defend Saudi Arabia with his Arab legion.
However the Saudi royals were convinced of something else. The US was positioned there for one reason to disrupt Iraqis political leader. Bin Laden with outrage declared the United States as the imminent threat, the “far enemy” which contaminated the Muslims in the Middle East. Muslims were now entitled to confront and expel the Americans out of Saudi Arabia. On the morning of 11 September 2001, al-Qaeda members planned one of the most lethal unprecedented attacks on the US that killed almost 3,000 people5. Within a month, the US and its allies responded by invading Afghanistan, overthrowing the Taliban regime.
The group’s members and the jihadists they had trained over the years and sent back to their home countries subsequently launched a series of spectacular attacks across the world, most notably in Bali in 2002, Casablanca in 2003, Madrid in 2004, and London and Amman in 2005. The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 also helped produce a new generation of jihadists. The latter half of the decade saw al-Qaeda offshoots formed elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa. In Iraq, AQI formed a militant group called the Mujahideen Shura Council, which shortly afterwards became known as Islamic State in Iraq (ISI).
In 2013, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the creation of his group with the collaboration of al-Nusra Front insurgents, which at that time-lapse were AL-Qaeda in Syria. Isis subsequently seized control of large swathes of Syria before launching an attack in Iraq in 2014 that saw it capture the second city of Mosul and declare the creation of a “caliphate”.7
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in accordance with Al Qaeda have been recorded as the two most deadly groups together with Boko Haram and Taliban. After jus one year of being active ISIL is responsible for the deaths of 6,141 people8. As a matter of fact In 2015, ISIL increased their range conducting an attack to in 11 countries, doubling the attacks of the previous years in foreign countries. While the most pacific is AL-QA’IDA, with a decline in deaths of 17 per cent in 2015 to 1,620 deaths9 which as I mentioned before after the twin towers attack and the Us invasion of Afghanistan it had faced a pitfall.
The current jihadis are now part of a third generation, meaning they are experienced and equipped, they are different in various ways incrementing their total population as well as their dynamic views about jihad. In the twentieth century, ISIL in a mere example of these generations which has become an international threat within very short time-lapse with a completely new level of intensity. History has shown that each group has its own individual targets, movements and arenas of operations which have evolved to become at an international level. ISIS is a hereditary affiliate of al-Qaeda, from terror group al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), it started in 2004 by Jordanian Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi10. ISIS has also targeted the Shiite community in general, starting with a deadly suicide bombing at a mosque in Samarra in 2006, but it has propagated an interpretation of jihadism both more urgent and aggressive than any previous groups11
The graph12 shows the different intentions across the two groups, AL-Qaeda which was formed around the 1980s and really came into action in the early 2000s ad since then has been oscillating, likewise not reaching more than two thousand deaths a year until 2011, which then Al-Qaeda has had many affiliated groups such as Al-Shabab and Al-Nusrah front. They are still operating, and no one knows as they have predicted its just a matter of time for them to come back stronger. On the other side we have ISIL which was announced their caliphate in 2013 from that year they have been a machine of terror and chaos, as the graph shows from their birth to the year 2015 they have killed around thirty thousand people, and this is without considering years 2016 and 2017. There is an exponential growth that is quite shocking in just three years they have managed to become extremely effective and dangerous to the world.
Jihadism has exponentially grown since the 9/11 attacks. The West failed to predict the emergence of al-Qaeda in new forms a cross the Middle East and North Africa. The fact that the west did not hypothesize the rise of other Islamist extremist groups mean that it was blindsided by the ISIS sweep across Syria and Iraq by the rapidity and atrocity, which temporarily changed the map of the Middle East.
These movements have skillfully continued to evolve and proliferate which means that when ISIL will be to some extent exterminated another jihadist extremist group will resurrect Individual extremist groups differ from each other and this is where my part comes to focus and grasp the differences between two of the most predominant affiliated groups: DAESH or ISIL and Al-Qa’ida, which as cited previously are interconnected and from the same family but likewise extremely different.
Therefore, it is a very immense area of research because terrorist acts are unpredictable but follow common statistical patterns. ISIS obliged everyone to believe that it was an individual’s sacred duty to wage jihad against enemies. Even setbacks and defeats are interpreted as part of the coming final apocalyptic battles, which are part of ISIS eschatology. Over 7,700 Western foreign fighters heeded this call together with another 35,000 extremists from over 120 countries13.
Over the last decade, the world has been facing extraordinary wave of terrorist attacks perpetrated by individuals hit Western countries, this is because ISIL was at its peak in all senses. Paris November 2015, 130 victims, Brussels March 2016, 32 victims, Orlando June 2016, 49 victims, and Nice July 2016, 86 victims, caused large numbers of casualties and by no chance there were a total of 51 successful attacks throughout Europe and North America from June 2014 until June 2017. From coordinated operations to the many individual acts carried out by lone wolves. The 51 attacks took place in a relatively limited number of countries (8). The country with the largest number of attacks was France (17), followed by the United States (16), Germany (6), the UK (4), Belgium (3), Canada (3), Denmark (1) and Sweden (1)14.
Therefore, most attacks were executed in Europe and the remaining in North America. The 51 attacks caused 395 deaths and no less than 1,549 physical injuries. On average every attack has an average of 8 fatalities; the level of lethality varies considerably from one episode to another15. France is the country with the largest number of victims in Europe however Iraq is by far the most targeted nation worldwide.
Terrorists have used several kinds of tactics and tools to carry out their attacks. These include organized small groups of gunmen utilizing automatic weapons to seemingly spontaneous attacks or lone wolves individuals brandishing detonating explosives or car bombs and vehicles to mow down pedestrians in crowded areas. Most attacks occurred in large urban centers. In fact, 14 of 51 attacks occurred in capital cities: Paris, Brussels, Berlin, London, Ottawa, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Barcelona. Other important cities with a population above 500,000 where attacked and targeted but this does not mean small cities are not in danger.
The five countries with the highest impact from terrorism are Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria. These five countries account for almost more of half of all deaths from terrorism in the past years. Regarding the convention on the organization for the economic cooperation members are of many of the victims targeted by affiliated extremist groups. Twenty-one of the 34 OECD countries experienced at least one terrorist attack with the majority of deaths occurring in Turkey and France of the last 16 years, the worst year for terrorism was 2014 with 93 countries experiencing an attack and 32,765 people killed16. There were 18 deaths caused by ISIL-affiliated attacks in the OECD in 2014, this number increased significantly in 2015, to 313 deaths from 67 attacks17.
As a matter of fact every attack has a specific scheme to which the organization or their affiliates must keep attached to, however it all depends on the dynamic of the attack. There are four specific jihadist attacks that can be split: Controlled: jihadist are trained within the borders of the caliphate and are directly sent abroad with resources and specific instructions on targets and timing. They must follow whatever the main council dictates and are always in contact with the caliphate Guided: Jihadists are indoctrinated and receive financial reward to carry out an attack under the specific extremist group banner. This a traditional and alarming way that al-Qaeda and IS’s attacks are globally recognized, beginning in 2014, this operative travelling to an area controlled by the terrorist group.
Once in the country where they were going to conduct the attack they maintained a lower level of communication with the center. Now, IS does this mostly via encrypted communications between operatives and members of IS’s Amn al-Kharji, is the external operations branch of the Islamic State. Its goal is to export terror abroad, and in the West. IS then provides guidance on method and target, and in some cases the means to carry it out. Once the attack has occurred, which usually results in the operative’s death, the video is released, proof that IS had a guiding hand. Networked: A group of individuals with specific duties, number operatives who have travelled to the caliphate, but who operate on no instruction or endorsement from the center, which has no foreknowledge of the attack. These cells will often be stimulated to action by the propaganda of IS Inspired: As Networked, but a lone individual who excogitates his or her conspiracy without any involvement from another person. This category is the true “lone wolf”, They are self-driven by the indoctrination of the extremist group. Individual actors tend to be male and motivated by an ideological driver with the ideological connection in many cases being recent.