Islam and terrorism essay

The literature's focus was restricted to certain topics, especially those that were more policy-oriented, providing intellectual justifications for controversial counterterrorism practices perpetrated by the U. It was no coincidence that such criticisms opened the way for a fourth stage in terrorism studies, interested above all in critical analyses centered on the nature of terrorism, as well as terrorism and counterterrorism policies SMYTH et al. Among the questions posed to the post-September 11 work, one is of particular interest: the conceptual debate about the phenomenon of terrorism.

Jackson , p. Moreover, Silke , p. One explanation for this lacuna stems from the fact that many analysts avoided such debates by adopting the definitions of states and international organisms, which conceptualize terrorism as violence committed exclusively by non-state actors JACKSON, Such definitions have very little analytical use because they do not provide sufficient criteria for us to distinguish between terrorism and any other criminal act, for example.

As Wight clarifies, terrorism cannot be understood, as a social and political phenomenon, solely through approaches that reduce it to a matter of individual psychology. Privileging individual motivations is to overlook structural factors, whether material or ideational, that constitute and contribute to the affirmation of the phenomenon. Paraphrasing Waltz , Wight argues that a theory about terrorism should explain why such a phenomenon occurs and indicate some of the conditions that make it more or less probable, not predict when a terrorist attack will occur.

The route outlined by Wight ; is to interrogate terrorism starting with its relationship with the modern state.

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According to the author, the consolidation of the state can be understood as a long trajectory of appropriation and accumulation — of territories, people, and resources — reached through the use of violence. The success of these processes of monopolizations culminated in the acceptance of that political entity as the most legitimate, but it hides the fact that it comes from a violent history and that terrorism and other forms of non-state violence were reactions to such monopolies. In sum, the argument developed is that terrorism is a form of political violence among many others — war, insurgency, genocide, etc — whose emergence should be understood as the response to a specific sociopolitical conjuncture.

To refine the distinction between terrorism and other forms of political violence, we need to understand their strategic logics. This encompasses evaluating if acts of terror are directly or indirectly linked to the desired political changes. Within this arena of debate, we propose a distinction between two types of arguments.

On the one hand, there is the idea of a direct link between the use of terror and political change. We can find this idea, for example, in the seminal work of Pape , which discusses the strategic logic of suicide terrorism, and Kydd and Walter , which is about terrorism strategies. According to Pape , terrorism can be understood as the use of violence by a non-state organization to intimidate a certain audience.

Likewise, Pape emphasizes that, in general terms, the purposes of terrorism are recruiting more supporters and putting their opponents under duress. Such a necessity to prioritize culminates in different forms of terrorism. We have, then, 'demonstrative terrorism' , which looks for publicity for a certain cause.


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Second, the goal of 'destructive terrorism' is to coerce opponents through the threat of death and to mobilize support for its cause. Here, Pape argues that terrorists look to inflict damage on members of the target-audience, running the risk of losing others' sympathy, which is not necessarily the case with demonstrative terrorism. A distinctive trait of this type of terrorism is that the terrorist does not expect to survive the mission. Furthermore, Pape argues that the majority of terrorist attacks are not isolated acts committed by fanatical individuals, but rather parts of larger campaigns conducted by groups with the aim of achieving a certain political goal.

According to Kydd and Walter , terrorism works not only because of the fact that it induces fear in target populations, but above all because it makes governments and individuals respond in the way that terrorists want. In this sense, terrorists would be too weak to impose their will directly through force. However, they would at times be strong enough to persuade audiences to do what they want because they are capable of altering the perception of these people, mainly when they are able to impose high costs and show a high degree of commitment to their cause.

Based on this argument, Kydd and Walter lay out five strategic logics for terrorism.

First, we have 'the strategy of attrition' , where terrorists look to persuade the enemy that they are strong enough to impose costs if a certain political orientation is maintained. There is also 'intimidation' , when they look to convince a population that they are capable of punishing disobedience and that the government will not be able to stop them. The 'strategy of provocation' consists of inducing the enemy to respond to terrorism with violence, hoping that this will then make the population come to support the terrorists.

Finally, the strategy of 'outbidding' consists of the use of violence to convince the public that the terrorists have greater chances of victory than rival groups, and therefore deserve their support. Conversely, we also have the argument that the link between acts of terror and political change is indirect, exemplified in Diniz and Mendes Understanding terrorism as a social phenomenon implies discussing it in terms of its means and ends.

In regard to the means used, one can usually characterize terrorism as the use of, or the threat to use, force.

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However, such an understanding is incomplete, given that the means used by terrorism is the use of, or the threat to use, force in a specific way: terror. Terror, therefore, is analytically different from force. In a war, for example, force has weight in and of itself given that destruction caused by it affects the balance of forces among contenders. The destruction caused by terrorism has little weight in relation to the numerical or material balance of forces in play MENDES, The principal means of terrorism is, therefore, the psychological effect of generating fear in the population.

In regard to objectives, Diniz understands terrorism as a political phenomenon, arguing that its final objective is the altering of a given status quo. However, with the intention of avoiding generalizations, and the comparison of unlike situations to one another, Diniz differentiates what he calls "the non-terrorist political use of terror from the terrorist political use of terror" DINIZ, , p.

The main difference between these two concepts lies in the link between the act and the intended political objective. In the case of the non-terrorist political use of terror, the side that makes use of terror looks to directly influence the behavior of its target.


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Concerning the terrorist political use of terror, on the other hand, this link is indirect. As we understand it, this analytical distinction is important, because it allows us to distinguish between terrorist actors by the use of terror. Furthermore, it does not exclude 'a priori' a certain grouping from being understood as a state actor.

Trump Vows to Eradicate Radical Islamic Terrorism

Anchored in such a distinction, we present below the delimiting axes for a comparison between al-Qaeda and ISIS. The formation of al-Qaeda cannot be separated from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in During the period of , Afghanistan was governed by Daoud Khan, who ended the monarchical regime, declaring the country a republic. Despite initially having the support of Communists, Daoud Khan began to pivot to the right in , in the light, above all, of a deep recession that was affecting the country.

The search for higher external revenue and the decrease in Afghanistan's dependence on the Soviets were two factors that led the Afghan government to open conversations with Iran, encouraged by the U.

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This conjuncture exacerbated the opposition to Daoud Khan, uniting diverse factions of the Communist Party. As a result, Moscow, afraid of being jettisoned from the political scene in Afghanistan, arranged for the unification of the Communists and the removal of Daoud Khan. Thus, after the assassination of Daoud Khan and his entire family, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan emerged between April , From its beginning, the new government initiated several reforms inspired by the Soviet model, with the intention to modernize the country. The new laws, however — above all, those pertaining to marriage and agrarian reform — were not well-received by the population, and any demonstration of opposition or dissatisfaction was brutally put down by the government COLL, The year of was the stage for other important events in the Middle East as well.

In November, an attempt to capture the Great Mosque of Mecca by groups opposed to the Al Saud monarchy marked the first big revolt against the Saudi government since its establishment. The presence of a foreign power on Afghan soil was an important catalyst for the formation of a resistance. Despite the geopolitical interests involved in weakening the presence of the USSR in the region above all, the U.

It had to do with a Communist state invading a Muslim country, providing airs of war to the defense of Islam. Al-Qaeda had the purpose of channeling combatants and funds to the Afghan resistance but, after the withdrawal of Soviet troops, it began to accompany the struggles of Muslims around the world, including rebellions against regimes considered apostates BYMAN, a However, he found U.

This was how his already-explicit opposition to the U.

I'm a Muslim, and I hate terrorism - CNN

As a result of these acts, bin Laden became a 'persona non grata' in the country, with exile initially in Sudan, between approximately and the only option remaining for him COLL, In Sudanese territory, bin Laden and al-Qaeda found the essential conditions to develop the group by means of an agreement with Sudan's government. On the one hand, through his personal fortune, bin Laden contributed to the construction of infrastructure projects in Sudan. On the other hand, the Sudanese government provided them with, for example, training camps and other conditions for their operations MIGAUX, The honeymoon between Khartoum and al-Qaeda, however, did not last very long, because bin Laden's activities began to draw the attention of the Persian Gulf monarchies.

Therefore, Middle Eastern countries' pressure on Sudan increased, particularly for bin Laden's expulsion. With the imposition of international sanctions in , the Sudanese government saw no other option but to ask bin Laden and his comrades to leave the country BYMAN, a. Al-Qaeda's next destination was Afghanistan, at the time dominated by the Taliban regime. According to Stern and Bergen , p.

At the beginning of , the Taliban authorized the opening of training camps in Afghanistan for al-Qaeda's use. In response to the regime's refusal to do so, Operation Enduring Freedom was launched on October 7, On November 13, , the Taliban fell, but neither its main leaders nor bin Laden were found. However, even though its capacity to act was harmed, al-Qaeda played prominent roles in other terrorist attacks, particularly an attack on a synagogue in Tunisia, an explosion in a nightclub in Bali both in , explosions in train stations in Madrid in , and metro stations in London in Finally, in May , bin Laden was assassinated by U.

The origin contexts above synthesize evidence that the rise of al-Qaeda came from a turbulent relationship between the West and the Muslim world. As a result, the status quo that they intended to alter was one of asymmetry in which, from the perspective of contemporary militant Islamist groups, Islam was being continually and constantly attacked by Western countries, particularly by the interference of the U.

It was no coincidence that al-Qaeda proposed three main goals. First, it was to serve as a terrorist group in and of itself. Second, it was to act as an organizer, recruiter, and logistical provider for other militant Muslims, incentivizing them to fight beyond Afghanistan. Furthermore, al-Qaeda was to be the vanguard of the resistance, unifying and leading the jihadist movement and providing it with purpose and direction BYMAN, a. It is, however, important for us to avoid analyses that tend to understand Islamist militants, above all the most violent ones, as nothing more than contemporary expressions of obscurantisms whose primary target is Western modernity.

One can therefore argue that, at least since the 18 th century, the Muslim world has seen itself as being in decline, particularly in relation to European countries. Given this scenario, several thinkers have connected this situation to the deviations of Muslim governments from Muhammad's teachings. One of the most well-known movements coming from this juncture was Wahhabism, founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab Basically, Wahhab proclaimed that the solution to the social and political problems of the time was a return to the eternal and infallible sources of Islam: the Qur'an and the Sunnah More recently, especially from the s and s on, we have the influence of Sayyid Qutb.

I'm Muslim, and I hate terrorism

Qutb became the main ideological leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, articulating a vision of Muslim society divided between two distinct and irreconcilable fields: the believers and the unbelievers. Consequently, it does not seem unreasonable to us to state that the political objectives of al-Qaeda reflect, to some degree, the political and ideological imagery coming from this complex context. They were certainly influenced by the ideas of Qutb, who considered the West to be a historical enemy of Islam, and that jihad 12 which was understood by him to be an armed struggle was the only way out of that situation.

Bin Laden and his comrades saw government actors' deviations from Muslim teachings and foreign actors' interference as the causes of decadence in the Muslim world.