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Islamic terrorism is the common term for violence, rooted in Islamism, and aimed at propagating Islamic culture, society, and values in opposition to the political, allegedly imperialistic, and cultural influences of non-Muslims, and the Western world in particular (cf. "Dar al-Harb").
There are also political dimensions to the ideology, and the history of Western influence and control after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, is the common stated reason used within the ideology to justify and explain its use of violence as resistive and retributive against western influences.
The term, (or discourses using the term), have been attacked as "counter-productive", "unhelpful", "highly politicized, intellectually contestable" and "damaging to community relations".
"Islamic terrorism" is itself a controversial phrase, although its usage is widespread throughout the English-speaking world. Many Muslims object to the term as it juxtiposes Islam, which they would regard as a peaceful religion, with terrorism . In fact, the common Muslim believes that they are made a racial (despite Islam not being a race) hate target by using the word 'Islam' with 'terrorism.' One scholar, Bernard Lewis, believes that the phrase "Islamic terrorism" is apt, because although "Islam, as a religion" is not "particularly conducive to terrorism or even tolerant of terrorism". In his own words:
|“||Islam has had an essentially political character ... from its very foundation ... to the present day. An intimate association between religion and politics, between power and cult, marks a principal distinction between Islam and other religions. ... In traditional Islam and therefore also in resurgent fundamentalist Islam, God is the sole source of sovereignty. God is the head of the state. The state is God's state. The army is God's army. The treasury is God's treasury, and the enemy, of course, is God's enemy.||”|
This argument is countered by Jamal Nassar and Karim H. Karim, who contend that because there are over a billion adherents of the religion, the phenomenon is more precisely regarded as "Islamist terrorism" or, because it describes political ideologies rooted in interpretations of Islam. In this vein, describing terrorism as "Islamic" may confirm "a prejudicial perspective of all things Islamic".
Yet another scholar, Karen Armstrong contends that "fundamentalism is often a form of nationalism in religious disguise", and that using the phrase "terrorism" is dangerously counterproductive, as it suggests those in the west believe that such atrocities are caused by Islam, and hence reinforces the viewpoint of some in the Muslim world that the west is an implacable enemy. Armstrong believes that the terrorists in no way represent mainstream Islam, and suggests the use of other terms such as "Wahhabi terrorism" and "Qutbian terrorism".
Islamic terrorism is often inspired by numerous Quranic verses that justify or encourage attacks on non-Muslims or those who may not be regarded as pious. Robert Pape, has argued that at least terrorists utilizing suicide attacks — a particularly effective form of terrorist attack—are driven not by Islamism but by "a clear strategic objective: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland."
However, Martin Kramer who debated Pape on origins of suicide bombing, countered Pape's position that reason for suicide terrorism is not just a strategic logic but also terrorist's reinterpretation of Islam to provide a moral logic. For example, Hizballah initiated suicide bombings after a complex reworking of the concept of martyrdom. Kramer explains that the Israeli occupation of Lebanon raised the temperature necessary for this reinterpretation of Islam, but occupation alone would not have been sufficient for suicide terrorism.. "The only way to apply a brake to suicide terrorism," Kramer argues, "is to undermine its moral logic, by encouraging Muslims to see its incompatibility with their own values."
In particular, scholar Scott Atran, research director and involved in NATO group studying suicide terrorism, points out that there is no single root cause of terrorism. Greatest predictors of suicide bombings, Atran concludes, is not religion but group dynamics: "small-group dynamics involving friends and family that form the diaspora cell of brotherhood and camaraderie on which the rising tide of martyrdom actions is based".
Former CIA analyst Michael Scheuer's states that the Al Qaeda Islamic terror attacks against America are motivated not by a hatred of American culture and religion but by the belief that U.S. foreign policy is a threat to Islam, condensed in the phrase "They hate us for what we do, not who we are." U.S. foreign policy actions Scheuer believes are fueling Islamic terror include
Some other academics argue that terrorism should be seen as a strategic reaction to American power,' – that America is an empire, and empires provoked resistance in the form of terrorism. The Russian, Ottoman, and Habsburg Empires, for example, all suffered from terrorist attacks and had terrorist organisations – the Black Hand, Young Bosnia, Narodnaya Volya – spawned from their multiple ethnic, religious, and national peoples (Serb, Macedonian, and Bosnian).
Forensic psychiatrist and former foreign service officer Marc Sageman made an "intensive study of biographical data on 172 participants in the jihad," in his book Understanding Terror Networks. He concluded "social networks," the "tight bonds of family and friendship" rather than behavioral disorders "poverty, trauma, madness, [or] ignorance," inspired alienated young Muslims to join the jihad" and kill.
Author Lawrence Wright describes the characteristic of "displacement" of members of the most famous Islamic terrorist group, Al-Qaeda.
What the recruits tended to have in common – besides their urbanity, their cosmopolitan backgrounds, their education, their facility with languages, and their computer skills – was displacement. Most who joined the jihad did so in a country other than the one in which they were reared. They were Algerians living in expatriate enclaves in France, Moroccans in Spain, or Yemenis in Saudi Arabia. Despite their accomplishments, they had little standing in the host societies where they lived. ...."
Scholar Olivier Roy describes the background of the hundreds of global (as opposed to local) terrorists who were incarcerated or killed and for whom authorities have records, as being surprising for their Westernized background; for the lack of Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans "coming to avenge what is going on in their country"; their lack of religiousity before being "born again" in a foreign country; the high percentage of converts to Islam among them; their "de-territorialized backgrounds" – "For instance, they may be born in a country, then educated in another country, then go to fight in a third country and take refuge in a fourth country"; their untraditional belief that jihad is permanent, global, and "not linked with a specific territory."
This profile differs from that found among recent local Islamist suicide bombers in Afghanistan, according to a 2007 study of 110 suicide bombers by Afghan pathologist Dr. Yusef Yadgari. Yadgari found that "80%" of the attackers studied had some kind of physical or mental disability. The bombers were also "not celebrated like their counterparts in other Arab nations. Afghan bombers are not featured on posters or in videos as martyrs."
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The main ideology behind Islamic Terrorism is the principle of Jihad, or struggle, which is the cornerstone of Islam. Jihad advocates war on non-Muslims and apostates. According to counter-terrorism author Dale C. Eikmeier, “ideology”, rather than any individual or group, is the "center of gravity" of al Qaeda and related groups, and the ideology is a "collection of violent Islamic thought called Qutbism."
He summarizes the tenets of Qutbism as being:
Transnational Islamist ideology, specifically of the militant Islamists, assert that Western polities and society are actively anti-Islamic, or as it is sometimes described, waging a "war against Islam". Islamists often identify what they see as a historical struggle between Christianity and Islam, dating back as far as the Crusades, among other historical conflicts between practitioners of the two respective religions. Osama bin Laden, for example, almost invariably describes his enemy as aggressive and his call for action against them as defensive. Defensive jihad differs from offensive jihad in being "fard al-ayn," or a personal obligation of all Muslim, rather than "fard al-kifaya", a communal obligation, which if some Muslims perform it is not required from others. Hence, framing a fight as defensive has the advantage both of appearing to be a victim rather than aggressor, and of giving your struggle the very highest religious priority for all good Muslims.
Many of the violent terrorist groups use the name of jihad to fight against Christians and Jews. An example is Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda, which is also known as 'International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders'. Most militant Islamists oppose Israel's policies, and often its existence.
The historic rivalry between Hindus and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent has also often been the primary motive behind some of the most deadly terrorist attacks in India. According to a U.S. State Department report, India topped the list of countries worst affected by Islamic terrorism.
In addition, Islamist Jihadis, scholars, and leaders opposed Western society for what they see as immoral secularism. Islamists have claimed that such unrestricted free speech has led to the proliferation of pornography, immorality, secularism, homosexuality, feminism, and many other ideas that Islamists often oppose. Although bin Laden almost always emphasized the alleged oppression of Muslims by America and Jews when talking about them in his messages, in his "Letter to America" he answered the question, "What are we calling you to, and what do we want from you?," with
We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest ... You separate religion from your policies, ... You are the nation that permits Usury, which has been forbidden by all the religions ... You are a nation that permits the production, trading and usage of intoxicants ... You are a nation that permits acts of immorality ... You are a nation that permits gambling in its all forms. ... You use women to serve passengers, visitors, and strangers to increase your profit margins. You then rant that you support the liberation of women. ...
Given their perceived piety, The Times noted the irony when a major investigation by their reporters uncovered a link between Islamic Jihadis and child pornography; a discovery that, according to the London paper, "is expected to improve understanding of the mindsets of both types of criminals and has been hailed as a potentially vital intelligence tool to undermine future terrorist plots."
Sunni view of Jihad See also: Opinion of Islamic scholars on Jihad Jihad has been classified either as al-jihād al-akbar (the greater jihad), the struggle against one's soul (nafs), or al-jihād al-asghar (the lesser jihad), the external, physical effort, often implying fighting (this is similar to the shiite view of jihad as well).
Gibril Haddad has analyzed the basis for the belief that internal jihad is the "greater jihad", Jihad al-akbar. Haddad identifies the primary historical basis for this belief in a pair of similarly worded hadeeth, in which Mohammed is reported to have told warriors returning home that they had returned from the lesser jihad of struggle against non-Muslims to a greater jihad of struggle against lust. Although Haddad notes that the authenticity of both hadeeth is questionable, he nevertheless concludes that the underlying principle of superiority internal jihad does have a reliable basis in the Qur'an and other writings.
On the other hand, the Hanbali scholar Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya did believe that "internal Jihad" is important but he suggests those hadith as weak which consider "Jihad of the heart/soul" to be more important than "Jihad by the sword". Contemporary Islamic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Azzam has argued the hadith is not just weak but "is in fact a false, fabricated hadith which has no basis. It is only a saying of Ibrahim Ibn Abi `Abalah, one of the Successors, and it contradicts textual evidence and reality."
Muslim jurists explained there are four kinds of jihad fi sabilillah (struggle in the cause of God):
Jihad of the heart (jihad bil qalb/nafs) is concerned with combatting the devil and in the attempt to escape his persuasion to evil. This type of Jihad was regarded as the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar). Jihad by the tongue (jihad bil lisan) is concerned with speaking the truth and spreading the word of Islam with one's tongue. Jihad by the hand (jihad bil yad) refers to choosing to do what is right and to combat injustice and what is wrong with action. Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) refers to qital fi sabilillah (armed fighting in the way of God, or holy war), the most common usage by Salafi Muslims and offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some contemporary Islamists have succeeded in replacing the greater jihad, the fight against desires, with the lesser jihad, the holy war to establish, defend and extend the Islamic state.
Sufic view of Jihad The Sufic view classifies "Jihad" into two; the "Greater Jihad" and the "Lesser Jihad". Muhammad put the emphasis on the "greater Jihad" by saying that "Holy is the warrior who is at war with himself". In this sense external wars and strife are seen but a satanic counterfeit of the true "jihad" which can only be fought and won within; no other Salvation existing can save man without the efforts of the man himself being added to the work involved of self-refinement. In this sense it is the western view of the Holy Grail which comes closest to the Sufic ideal; for to the Sufis Perfection is the Grail; and the Holy Grail is for those who after they become perfect by giving all they have to the poor then go on to become "Abdal" or "changed ones" like Enoch who was "taken" by God because he "walked with God". (Genesis:5:24) here the "Holy Ones" gain the surname "Hadrat" or "The Presence".
Justification for terrorism against other Muslims by militant Islamists, in particular against Muslim regimes they consider non-Islamic, is often based on the contention that the targets are apostates. Osama bin Laden, for example, maintains that any Muslim who helps "infidels over Muslims" is no longer a Muslim,
... the believer ... should boycott the goods of America and her allies, and he should be very wary that he does not support falsehood, for helping the infidels over Muslims – even with a single word is clear unbelief, as the religious scholars have decreed.
and that Taliban-ruled Afghanistan (deposed in 2001) "is the only Islamic country" in the world.
Opinions within the Muslim community vary as to the grounds on which an individual may be declared to have apostatized. The most common view among Muslim scholars is that a declaration of takfir (designation of a Muslim as an apostate) can only be made by an established religious authority. Mainstream Muslim scholars usually oppose recourse to takfir, except in rare instances. Takfir was used as justification for the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat.
The role played by the Qur'an, Islam's sacred text, in opposing or in encouraging attacks on civilians is disputed.
"At no time did the (Muslim) jurist approve of terrorism. Nor indeed is there any evidence of the use of terrorism (in Islamic tradition). Muslims are commanded not to kill women, children, or the aged, not to torture or otherwise ill-treat prisoners, to give fair warning of the opening of hostilities, and to honor agreements."
"Similarly, the laws of Jihad categorically preclude wanton and indiscriminate slaughter. The warriors in the holy war are urged not to harm non-combatants, women and children, "unless they attack you first." A point on which they insist is the need for a clear declaration of war before beginning hostilities, and for proper warning before resuming hostilities after a truce. What the classical jurists of Islam never remotely considered is the kind of unprovoked, unannounced mass slaughter of uninvolved civil populations that we saw in New York two weeks ago. For this there is no precedent and no authority in Islam. Indeed it is difficult to find precedents even in the rich annals of human wickedness." 
In 2007, Osama bin Laden, best known for the September 11 attacks, used quotes from the Qur'an—and a militant Taleban cleric's interpretation of those verses—to justify his declaration of war on Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani army, such as:
O you who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for your friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guides not a people unjust. [Qur'an 5:51]
Michael Sells and Jane I. Smith (a Professor of Islamic Studies) write that barring some extremists like Al-Qaeda, most Muslims do not interpret Qura’nic verses as promoting warfare; and that the phenomenon of radical interpretation of scripture by extremist groups is not unique to Islam.". According to Sells, "[Most Muslims] no more expect to apply [the verses at issue] to their contemporary non-Muslim friends and neighbors than most Christians and Jews consider themselves commanded by God, like the Biblical Joshua, to exterminate the infidels."
Although "Islamic" Terrorism is commonly associated with the Salafis or "Wahhabis", the scholars of the group have constantly attributed this association to ignorance, misunderstanding and sometimes insincere research and deliberate misleading by rival groups.. Following the September 11 attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Arlington, Shaikh Abdul-Azeez Aal ash-Shaikh (the Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia President of the Committee of Major Scholars and centre for Knowledge based research and verdicts) made an official statement that "the Islamic Sharee'ah (legislation) does not sanction" such actions. A Salafi or "Wahhabi" "Committee of Major Scholars" in Saudi Arabia has declared that "Islamic" terrorism, such as the May 2003 bombing in Riyadh, are in violation of Sharia law and aiding the enemies of Islam..
Criticism of Islamic terrorism on Islamic grounds has also been made by anti-terrorist Muslims such as Abdal-Hakim Murad:
Certainly, neither bin Laden nor his principal associate, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are graduates of Islamic universities. And so their proclamations ignore 14 centuries of Muslim scholarship, and instead take the form of lists of anti-American grievances and of Koranic quotations referring to early Muslim wars against Arab idolaters. These are followed by the conclusion that all Americans, civilian and military, are to be wiped off the face of the Earth. All this amounts to an odd and extreme violation of the normal methods of Islamic scholarship. Had the authors of such fatwās followed the norms of their religion, they would have had to acknowledge that no school of mainstream Islam allows the targeting of civilians. An insurrectionist who kills non-combatants is guilty of baghy, “armed aggression,” a capital offense in Islamic law.
One counter-terrorism scholar, Dale C. Eikmeier, points out the "questionable religious credentials" of many Islamist theorists, or "Qutbists," which can be a "means to discredit them and their message":
With the exception of Abul Ala Maududi and Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, none of Qutbism’s main theoreticians trained at Islam’s recognized centers of learning. Although a devout Muslim, Hassan al-Banna was a teacher and community activist. Sayyid Qutb was a literary critic. Muhammad Abd al-Salam Faraj was an electrician. Ayman al-Zawahiri is a physician. Osama bin Laden trained to be a businessman.
Yemeni Judge Hamoud Al-Hitar has also attacked the Islamic intellectual basis of terrorism citing proofs "in theological dialogues that challenge and then correct the wayward beliefs" of terrorists or would-be terrorists.
Iranian Ayatollah Ozma Seyyed Yousef Sanei issued a fatwa (ruling) that suicide attacks against civilians are legitimate only in the context of war. The ruling did not say whether other types of attacks against civilians are justified outside of the context of war, nor whether jihad is included in Sanei's definition of war.
On the other hand, Fethullah Gülen, a prominent Turkish Islamic scholar, has claimed that "a real Muslim," who understood Islam in every aspect, could not be a terrorist.. There are many other people with similar points of view such as Karen Armstrong, Prof. Ahmet Akgunduz, Harun Yahya and Tahir-ul-Qadri.
Huston Smith prominent author on comparative religion noted that the extremists have hijacked Islam, just as has occurred periodically in Christianity, Hinduism and other religions throughout history. He added that the real problem is that the extremists do not know their own faith.
Some prominent Islamic terror groups and incidents include the following:
Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Taiba is a militant group that seeks the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir's accession to Pakistan. It has committed mass militant actions against Indian troops and civilian Indians. The Lashkar leadership describes Indian and Israeli regimes as the main enemies of Islam, claiming India and Israel to be the main enemies of Pakistan. Lashkar-e-Toiba, along with Jaish-e-Mohammed, another militant group active in Kashmir are on the United States’ foreign terrorist organizations list. They are also designated as terrorist groups by the United Kingdom, India, Australia and Pakistan.
Jaish-e-Mohammed (often abbreviated as JEM) is a major Islamic militant organization in South Asia. Jaish-e-Mohammed was formed in 1994 and is based in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The group's primary objective is to separate Kashmir from India, and it has carried out a series of attacks all over India. Most spectacular of the thousands of attacks that JEM is responsible for and has blood on its hands is the death of hundreds of innocents on 11/26/2008 who were murdered by 10 Pakistani Islamic terrorists from JEM who came via boat and killed over 186 people in Mumbai.
The group was formed after the supporters of Maulana Masood Azhar split from another Islamic militant organization, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen. Islamic terrorist Masood Azhar was freed in exchange for hijacked passengers of an Indian Airlines flight. On achieving his freedom, the murderer set about killing thousands more to achieve his goals of a Kashmir free from India. The group gets considerable funding from Pakistani expatriates in the United Kingdom and the UAE. The group is regarded as a terrorist organization by several countries including India, United States and United Kingdom. Jaish-e-Mohammed is viewed by some as the "deadliest" and "the principal terrorist organization in Jammu and Kashmir". The group was also implicated in the kidnapping and murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl.
In Bangladesh the group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh was formed sometime in 1998 and gained prominence on 20 May 2001 when 25 petrol bombs and documents detailing the activities of the organization were discovered and eight of its members were arrested in Parbatipur in Dinajpur district. The organization was officially banned in February 2005 after attacks on NGOs, but struck back in August when 300 bombs were detonated almost simultaneously throughout Bangladesh. Dhaka international airport, government buildings and major hotels were targeted.
In Afghanistan, Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin forces, are reported to have "sharply escalated bombing and other attacks in 2006 and early 2007" against civilians. During 2006 "at least 669 Afghan civilians were killed in at least 350 armed attacks, most of which appear to have been intentionally launched at civilians or civilian objects. An additional 52 civilians were killed in insurgent attacks in the first two months of 2007."
Al-Qaeda is a worldwide pan-Islamic terrorist network headed by Osama bin Laden. now operates in more than 60 countries. Its stated aim is the use of jihad to defend Islam against Zionism, Christianity, Hinduism, the secular West, and Muslim governments such as Saudi Arabia, which it sees as insufficiently Islamic and too closely tied to America.
Formed by bin Laden and Muhammad Atef in the aftermath of the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the late 1980s, Al Qaeda called for the use of violence against civilians and military of the United States and any countries that are allied with it. Since its formation Al Qaeda has committed a number of terrorist acts in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Although once supported by the Taliban organization in Afghanistan, the U.S. and British governments never considered the Taliban to have been a terrorist organization.
Specially some events such as Twin Towers bombing in 1993, the 9/11 event and further much more events. Muslim popular opinion on the subject of attacks on civilians by Islamist groups varies. While most Muslims living in the West denounce the September 11th attacks on the US, Hezbollah's rocket attacks against Israeli civilian targets are widely supported in the Muslim world and regarded as defensive Jihad by a legitimate resistance movement rather than terrorism. Though Al-Qaeda operates worldwide, they only comprise of 1000 members, as compared with the relatively peaceful Iraqi resistance's 100,000.
Major lethal attacks on civilians in Europe credited to Islamic terrorism include the 11 March 2004 bombings of commuter trains in Madrid, where 191 people were killed and 2,050 wounded, and the 7 July 2005 London bombings, also of public transport, which killed 52 commuters and injured 700. According to EU Terrorism Report there were almost 500 acts of terrorism across the European Union in 2006, but only one, the foiled suitcase bomb plot in Germany, was related to Islamist terror.
Politically-motivated attacks on civilians in Russia have been traced to separatist sentiment among Muslims in its Caucasus region, particularly Chechnya. Russia's two biggest terrorist attacks both came from Muslim groups. In the Nord-Ost incident at a theater in Moscow in October 2002, the Chechnyan separatist "Special Purpose Islamic Regiment" took an estimated 850 people hostage. 39 hostage-takers were killed by Spetsnaz and OSNAZ troops and at least 129 hostages died during the rescue, all but one killed by the chemicals used to subdue the attackers. Whether this attack would more properly be called a nationalist rather than an Islamist attack is in question.
In the September 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis 1,200 schoolchildren and adults were taken hostage after "School Number One" secondary school in Beslan, North Ossetia-Alania was overrun by the "Caucasus Caliphate Jihad" led by Shamil Basayev. As many as 500 died, including 186 children. According to the only surviving attacker, Nur-Pashi Kulayev, the choice of a school and the targeting of mothers and young children by the attackers was done in hopes of generating a maximum of outrage and igniting a wider war in the Caucasus with the ultimate goal of establishing an Islamic Emirate across the whole of the North Caucasus.
Unrelated to the Shia Hezbollah of Lebanon, this Sunni terrorist group has been credited with the assassination of Diyarbakir police chief Gaffar Okkan, and the November 2003 bombings of two synagogues, the British consulate in Istanbul and HSBC bank headquarters, killing 58 and wounding several hundred.
The area that has seen some of the worst terror attacks in modern history has been Iraq as part of the Iraq War. In 2005, there were 400 incidents of one type of attack (suicide bombing), killing more than 2000 people – many if not most of them civilians. In 2006, almost half of all reported terrorist attacks in the world (6600), and more than half of all terrorist fatalities (13,000), occurred in Iraq, according to the National Counterterrorism Center of the United States. The insurgency in Iraq against the US and Iraqi government combines attacks on "Coalition troops" and the Iraqi security forces, with attacks on civilian contractors, aid workers, and infrastructure. Along with nationalist Ba'athist groups and criminal, non-political attacks, the insurgency includes Islamist insurgent groups, who favor suicide attacks far more than non-Islamist groups.
They include the Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda affiliate; Al-Faruq Brigades, a militant wing of the Islamic Movement in Iraq (Al-Harakah al-Islamiyyah fi al-arak); Jamaat Ansar al-Sunna; the Mujahideen of the Victorious Sect (Mujahideen al ta’ifa al-Mansoura); the Mujahideen Battalions of the Salafi Group of Iraq (Kata’ib al mujahideen fi al-jama’ah al-salafiyah fi al-‘arak); the Jihad Brigades/Cell; "White Flags, Muslim Youth and Army of Mohammed" ; Ansar al-Islam, a Taliban-like, jihadist group with ties to Al Qaeda. At least some of the terrorism has a transnational character in that some foreign Islamic jihadists have joined the insurgency.
Fatah al-Islam is an Islamist group operating out of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon. It was formed in November 2006 by fighters who broke off from the pro-Syrian Fatah al-Intifada, itself a splinter group of Fatah, and is led by a Palestinian fugitive militant named Shaker al-Abssi. The group's members have been described as militant jihadists, and the group itself has been described as a terrorist movement that draws inspiration from al-Qaeda. Its stated goal is to reform the Palestinian refugee camps under Islamic sharia law, and its primary targets are Israel and the United States. Lebanese authorities have accused the organization of being involved in the 13 February 2007 bombing of two minibuses that killed three people, and injured more than 20 others, in Ain Alaq, Lebanon, and identified four of its members as having confessed to the bombing. consider it, or a part of it, to be a terrorist group responsible for blowing up the American embassy and later its annex, as well as the barracks of American and French peacekeeping troops and a dozens of kidnappings of foreigners in Beirut. It is also accused of being the recipient of massive aid from Iran, and of serving "Iranian foreign policy calculations and interests," or serving as a "subcontractor of Iranian initiatives" Hezbollah denies any involvement or dependence on Iran.
In the Arab and Muslim worlds, on the other hand, Hezbollah is regarded as a legitimate and successful resistance movement that drove both Western powers and Israel out of Lebanon. In 2005, the Lebanese Prime Minister said of Hezbollah, it "is not a militia. It's a resistance."
Hamas, ("zeal" in Arabic and an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya), began support for attacks on military and civilian targets in Israel at the beginning of the First Intifada in 1987. As the Muslim Brotherhood organization for Palestine its leadership was made up of "intellectuals from the devout middle class,... respectable religious clerics, doctors, chemists, engineers, and teachers.
The 1988 charter of Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel, and it still states its goal to be the elimination of Israel. Its "military wing" has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in Israel, principally suicide bombings. Hamas has also been accused of sabotaging the Israeli-Palestine peace process by launching attacks on civilians during Israeli elections to anger Israeli voters and facilitate the election of harder-line Israeli candidates. For example, "a series of spectacular suicide attacks by Palestinians that killed 63 Israelis and led directly to the election victory of Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party on 29 May 1996."
Hamas justifies these attacks as necessary in fighting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory, and as responses to Israeli attacks on Palestinian targets. The wider movement also serves as a charity organization and provides services to Palestinians.
Hamas has been designated as a terrorist group by the European Union, Canada, the United States, Israel, Australia, Japan, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and Human Rights Watch. However Russia does not consider Hamas a terrorist group as it was democratically elected.
Islamic Jihad is a Palestinian Islamist group based in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and dedicated to waging jihad to eliminate the state of Israel. It was formed by Egyptian Fathi Shaqaqi in the Gaza Strip following the Iranian Revolution which inspired its members. From 1983 onward, it engaged in "a succession of violent, high-profile attacks" on Israeli targets. The intifada which "it eventually sparked" was quickly taken over by the much larger Palestine Liberation Organization and Hamas. Beginning in September 2000, it started a campaign of suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians. It is currently led by Sheikh Abdullah Sheikh Abdullah Ramadan.
The PIJ's armed wing, the Al-Quds brigades, has claimed responsibility for numerous militant attacks in Israel, including suicide bombings. The group has been designated as a terrorist organization by several Western countries.
The Armed Islamic Group, active in Algeria between 1992 and 1998, was one of the most violent Islamic terrorist groups, and is thought to have takfired the Muslim population of Algeria. Its campaign to overthrow the Algerian government included civilian massacres, which sometimes wiping out entire villages in its area of operation (see List of Algerian massacres of the 1990s; notably the Bentalha massacre and Rais massacre, among others.) It also targeted foreigners living in Algeria killing more than 100 expatriate men and women in the country. The group's favored technique was the kidnapping of victims and slitting their throats although it also used assassination by gun and bombings, including car bombs. Outside of Algeria, the GIA established a presence in France, Belgium, Britain, Italy and the United States. In recent years it has been eclipsed by a splinter group, The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), now called Al-Qaeda Organization in the Islamic Maghreb.
The Abu Sayyaf Group also known as al-Harakat al-Islamiyya is one of several militant Islamist separatist groups based in and around the southern islands of the Philippines, in Bangsamoro (Jolo, Basilan, and Mindanao) where for almost 30 years various Muslim groups have been engaged in an insurgency for a state, independent of the predominantly Christian Philippines. The name of the group is derived from the Arabic ابو, abu ("father of") and sayyaf ("Swordsmith").
Since its inception in the early 1990s, the group has carried out bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, rapes, and extortion in their fight for an independent Islamic state in western Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago with the stated goal of creating a pan-Islamic superstate across southeast Asia, spanning from east to west; the island of Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago, the island of Borneo (Malaysia, Indonesia), the South China Sea, and the Malay Peninsula (Peninsular Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar).
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Some terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah have limited their acts to localized regions of the Middle East, while others, notably Al-Qaeda, have an international scope for their terrorist activities.
An increasingly popular tactic used by terrorists is suicide bombing. This tactic is used against civilians, soldiers, and government officials of the regimes the terrorists oppose. The use of suicide bombers is seen by many Muslims as contradictory to Islam's teachings; however, groups who support its use often refer to such attacks as "martyrdom operations" and the suicide-bombers who commit them as "martyrs" (Arabic: shuhada, plural of "shahid"). The bombers, and their sympathizers often believe that suicide bombers, as martyrs to the cause of jihad against the enemy, will receive the rewards of paradise for their actions.
One source has found interest in new and so far unutilized bombing technique on internet forums used by al-Qaeda – the use of "remote-piloted aircraft" and "robot designs," and "training dogs to recognize American troops’ uniforms," as a replacement for techniques such as suicide bombing or a detonating planted bombs with a radio-control.
Islamic terrorism sometimes employs the hijacking of passenger vehicles such as cars, buses, and planes.
Along with bombings and hijackings, Islamic terrorists have made extensive use of highly-publicised kidnappings and executions, often circulating videos of the acts for use as propaganda. Notable foreign victims include Nick Berg, Daniel Pearl, Paul Marshall Johnson, Jr., Eugene Armstrong, Jack Hensley, Kim Sun-il, Kenneth Bigley, Shosei Koda, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, Margaret Hassan. One Iraqi victim was Seif Adnan Kanaan. The most frequent form of execution by these groups has been decapitation. While some targets are military, or seen as supporting the anti-Islamist forces, victims are also as varied as the Red Cross, the Iraqi education ministry, and diplomats.
In the beginning of the 21st century, also a worldwide network of hundreds of jihadist web sites emerged, that inspire, train, educate and recruit young Muslims to engage in "jihad against America and the West", taking less prominent roles in mosques and community centers that are under scrutiny. In December 2009, five men from Virginia were arrested in Pakistan, where they went, they told Pakistani police, "to join the jihad against U.S. troops in Afghanistan". They first made contact with two extremist organizations in Pakistan by e-mail in August. As The Washington Post reported "Online recruiting has exponentially increased, with Facebook, YouTube and the increasing sophistication of people online" .
Muslim popular opinion on the subject of attacks on civilians by Islamist groups varies. Muslims living in the West denounce the September 11th attacks on the US. Hezbollah's rocket attacks against Israeli civilian targets are widely supported in the Muslim world and regarded as defensive Jihad by a legitimate resistance movement rather than terrorism.
The Free Muslims Coalition rallied against terror, stating that they wanted to send "a message to radical Muslims and supporters of terrorism that we reject them and that we will defeat them."
Statistics compiled by the United States government's Counterterrorism Center present a complicated picture: of known and specified terrorist incidents from the beginning of 2004 through the first quarter of 2005, slightly more than half of the fatalities were attributed to Islamic extremists but a majority of over-all incidents were considered of either "unknown/unspecified" or a secular political nature. The vast majority of the "unknown/unspecified" terrorism fatalities did however happen in Islamic regions such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or in regions where Islam is otherwise involved in conflicts such as the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, southern Thailand and Kashmir.
Daniel Chirot said "Not many people in the world, either in Islamic countries, or Christian ones, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or anything else, really want to live a life of extreme puritanism, endless hate, and suicidal wars. Extremist leaders can take power, and for a time, be backed by much of their population hoping to redress past grievances and trying to find a new utopia. But as with the most extreme Christian warriors during the European wars of religion, or with the Nazis, or the most committed communist revolutionaries, it eventually turned out that few of their people were willing to go all the way in their struggles if that meant permanent violence, suffering, and death. So it will be with Islamic extremism.":14
An influential group of Pakistani scholars and religious leaders declared suicide attacks and beheadings as un-Islamic. 'Ulema' (clerics) and 'mushaikh' (spiritual leaders) of the Jamaat Ahl-e-Sunnah, who gathered for a convention, declared suicide attacks and beheadings as un-Islamic in a unanimous resolution.
Ruet-e-Hilal Committee chairman Mufti Muneeb-ur-Rehman, in his address, said those who were fighting in the name of implementing Shariah or Islamic law must first abide by these same laws. He said the Taliban were so cruel that they were even slaughtering minors. This is contrary to the teachings of Islam.
Some contemporary scholars who have followed a textual based approach to the study of the Qur'an with an emphasis over the coherence in the Book and the context of situaion offered a radical interpretation on the verses and prophetic narratives that are usually quoted by the militants to promote militancy. According Mr Javed Ahmad Ghamidi the Qur'an does not allow waging war except for against oppression under a sovereign state. He holds that jihad without a state is nothing but creating nuisance in the land when hijacked by the individuals and groups independent of the state authority defeats the purpose. The principle behind this study of the issue in the basic sources is the principle that there are divine injunctions in the Qur'an which are specific to the age of the Messenger. He says that nobody can be punished for apostasy or being non-Muslim after the Prophet who acted as the divine agent when he punished the disbelievers by sword who had rejected the message of God and his messenger even after the truth was made manifest to them. Ghamidi and his associates have written extensively on the topics related to these issues. In his book Meezan Ghamidi has concluded that: 1. Jihad can only waged against persecution Islamic jihad has only two purposes: putting en end to persecution even that of the non-Muslims and making the religion of Islam reign supreme in the Arabian peninsula. This later type was specific for the messenger of God and is no more operative. 2. under a soverign state 3. There are strict ethical limits for jihad which do not again allow fighting for example non-combatants. 4. Seen in this perspective acts of terrorism including suicide bombing becomes prohibited. His booklet on Jihad is considered one of his most important contribution towards understanding the religion according to the principles of interpreting the Qur'an introduced by Farahi and Islahi.
A Sunday Times survey taken in UK shortly after the 9/11 attack "revealed that 40% of British Muslims believe Osama bin Laden was right to attack the United States. About the same proportion think that British Muslims have a right to fight alongside the Taliban. A radio station serving London's Pakistani community conducted a poll which 98% of London Muslims under 45 said they would not fight for Britain, while 48% said they would fight for bin Laden." 
A 2004 Pew survey revealed that Osama bin Laden is viewed favorably by large percentages in Pakistan (65%), Jordan (55%) and Morocco (45%). In Turkey as many as 31% say that suicide attacks against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq are justifiable.
A 2005 Pew Research study that involved 17,000 people in 17 countries showed support for terrorism was declining in the Muslim world along with a growing belief that Islamic extremism represents a threat to those countries. A Daily Telegraph survey showed that 6% of British Muslims fully supported the July 2005 bombings in the London Underground.
Most recent polls and surveys done in many of prominent Muslim countries show that the balance of forces in the world of Islam has shifted dramatically against al-Qaida's global jihad and its local manifestations. Here are seven examples: