New (and old) patterns of jihadism: al-Qa‘ida, the Islamic State and beyond

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Abstract

13 years after the tragic events of 9/11, al-Qa‘ida can count on as many regional nodes as never before, as well as on a still significant influence over the most extreme parts of the wider radical Islamist galaxy. Despite all the requiems sang in the past decade by experts and officials alike, then, al-Qa‘ida is alive, albeit not as dangerous as in 2001. But, differently from the past, the group seems not to be alone. The last few years witnessed the emergence of a series of actors that, while sharing several features with al-Qa‘ida, developed new and often competing interpretations able to threaten its supremacy over the whole jihadi community. The swift ascendance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, its creation of an emirate ruled by extremely rigid shariah norms, and the dispute soared between its leader, the “Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the amir of al- Qa‘ida, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are the most tangible evidences of this process. But they are just a part of a wider picture. In Tunisia and Libya the local branches of Ansar al-Shariah gave birth to an hybrid stream of jihadism, mixing appeals to social justice with calls to renew the armed struggle in defense of the Islamic community. In the “post-Morsi Egypt” the restive Sinai peninsula appears to have become the seat of a new “jihadist international”, able to gather a composite array of violent groups extolling objectives and modus operandi close to the ones expressed by al-Qa‘ida but not officially under its clouts. At the same time, growing numbers of foreign volunteers responded to the appeal launched by jihadist organizations fighting in Syria and Iraq - their ranks replenished by would be jihadist (often in their twenties or even younger) coming from all over the world, Europe included. A phenomenon that has been described by the main intelligence agencies as the most serious threat the West will have to face in the mid-long term.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherISPI - Istituto per gli Studi di Politica Internazionale
Number of pages117
ISBN (Print)9788890949937
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • fondamentalismo islamico
  • jihadism
  • qaida
  • terrorismo

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