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Islamist terrorism, sometimes called Islamic terrorism, is terrorism that is carried out to further the political and religious ambitions of a segment of the Muslim community.
"Islamic terrorism" is a contentious term; many Muslims, particularly those supporting liberal movements within Islam do not accept that attacks on civilians can ever be justified by the Islamic religion. From this perspective, describing terrorism as "Islamic" is seen as a slur on Islam. Although "Islamic terrorism" is commonly used by Western media to describe the activity of a wide variety of groups, "Islamist terrorism" is a more accurate term and would respect the sensitivities of Muslims.
The most international of these groups, Al-Qaeda, also has its origins in a particular nationalist struggle; namely, rebellion against the royal family of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime is perceived as being too closely associated with American foreign policy, particularly through granting the United States basing rights during the first Gulf War. Al-Qaida's ideology is an extreme form of Islam as a political movement, and among its ideals are pan-Islamic unity. So thereafter, the Saudi regime was seen as insufficiently Islamic. Such a view may seem bewildering to Westerners, who often cannot imagine anything more 'Islamic' than the country's Wahhabi interpretation of Islamic law. But to Al-Qaida in particular, the world is viewed as a struggle between their extreme Islamist ideology versus a secular Western ideology. This view of the world has ironically been strengthened by the War on Terror.
In the view of the terrorists involved, they are defending Islam against aggression, or otherwise supporting or spreading it. Modern Islamist terrorist groups are often inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood. Some Islamist terrorist groups have employed suicide bombers, in spite of the comdemnation of suicide by Muslim religious authorities. These groups refer to suicide bomber attacks as martyrdom operations and the suicides are characterized as shohada (plural of "shahid"). The nature, extent and support for Islamist terrorism among the general Muslim population is subject to considerable debate and disagreement among Westerners.
The members of such groups are more likely to see themselves as freedom fighters rather than terrorists, as the political origins of such groups in Israel/Palestine, Soviet-occupied Afghanistan, Chechnya and most recently post-Saddam Iraq are often connected to demands for statehood and nationalist self-determination.
Other Muslim views
Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, the general manager of Al-Arabiya said: "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims."
Muslim scholars in North America in a statement just after 9/11: "We encourage Muslim medical professionals and Muslim relief agencies to assist in whatever possible way with humanitarian and relief efforts both locally and nationally. Moreover, we urge people of diverse religious traditions, faith groups and spiritual expressions, including Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and members of other communities, to share their grief and sorrow together as one family, the human family."
A medieval precedent of modern Islamist terrorism may have been the Hashshashin, an Islamic (Nizari) group from the Middle Ages that sent assassins against Crusader and Islamic rulers opposing them. Their lair was the Alamut fortress.
Verdict of the Qu'ran
The Qur'an, the highest source of authority in Islam, vehemently denounces the killing of any person who is not guilty of at least one of two crimes:
"Whosoever killed a person - unless it be for killing a person or for creating disorder in the land - it shall be as if he killed all mankind; and whoso saved a life, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind." (5:32)
According to this verse of the Qur'an, if one human being is killed who is
1) Not guilty of murdering another person;
2) Not guilty of causing disorder/strife;
It would be the equivalent to the massacre of the entire human race, which is an inconceivably barbaric crime, and a monumental sin. This verse makes it clear and unequivocal who is a legitimate target, and who is not.
Other possibly relevant Qur'anic statements include:
- 2.190-1: "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith."
With reference to the Hypocrites (munafiqin ), a group at Madina which are said to have pretended to be Muslims while secretly supporting their enemies, the Qur'an says:
- [4.89-91] They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they fly (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper. Except those who reach a people between whom and you there is an alliance, or who come to you, their hearts shrinking from fighting you or fighting their own people; and if Allah had pleased, He would have given them power over you, so that they should have certainly fought you; therefore if they withdraw from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not given you a way against them. You will find others who desire that they should be safe from you and secure from their own people; as often as they are sent back to the mischief they get thrown into it headlong; therefore if they do not withdraw from you, and (do not) offer you peace and restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them; and against these We have given you a clear authority.
Islamist terrorist groups (according to US)
- Abu Sayyaf, Philippines
- Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, Egypt also known as The Islamic Group
- al-Qaeda, Worldwide
- Armed Islamic Group (GIA), Algeria
- Army of Ansar al-Sunna, Iraq
- AZF, France
- Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Egypt
- Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front (IBDA-C), Turkey
- Hamas, Gaza Strip and West Bank
- Harkat-ul Mujahideen al-Alami , Pakistan
- Hizballah, Lebanon
- Islamic Movement of Central Asia, Central Asia
- Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan
- Jemaah Islamiyah, Indonesia
- Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Philippines
- Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, Morocco and Europe
- Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Gaza Strip and West Bank
- Tawhid and Jihad , Iraq, led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
- Palestinian terrorism
- Bat Ye'or
- Car bomb
- Suicide bombing
- Violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
- Timeline of Islamic terrorism against the United States
- Islamic Threat -Daily Commentary on Extremist Islam
- Jihad Watch -Daily Commentary on Extremist Islam
- Bearers of Global Jihad: Immigration and National Security after 9/11
- Secular Islam -Promoting secularisation of Islam
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