Abstract

Whether Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will succeed or not in creating a Caliphate able to extend its hold over the whole Islamic community and beyond, 2014 will be remembered as a defining moment for the broader radical Islamist galaxy. Only three years ago, officials and analysts alike scrambled to celebrate the requiem of al-Qa‘ida and of the brand of global jihad it embodied. The flames of its struggle had apparently been exhausted by US-led counterterrorism efforts as well as by the successes the movements of “Political Islam” were obtaining at the ballot boxes after the Arab Spring, successfully ousting the same apostate regimes al-Qa‘ida (AQ) had tried in vain to topple in decades of “honoured career”. And yet, all of a sudden, the world was awakened last June by the news that the insurgents fighting under the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) had conquered Mosul, the second biggest city in Iraq. In the midst of the indifference that had shrouded Iraq since the withdrawal of US troops in 2011 and of the convolutions of the Syrian war, the forces commanded by al-Baghdadi succeeded in recovering and in infiltrating an area stretching from north-western Syria to eastern Iraq and – even more important – in laying the foundations of a state located in the very heart of the Arab and the Islamic word. An objective that not even Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Baghdadi’s mentor and founder of al-Qa‘ida in Iraq (AQI), could have dreamt of and that until a couple of years ago would have appeared impossible even to his staunchest supporter. A state that these black warriors seek to transform into a model for the whole ummah and into a launching pad for a global struggle aimed at reuniting the Islamic community and at restoring the golden age of Islam. No matter how much suffering they will inflict and how many innocent victims they will slaughter, nor if the overwhelming majority of the Islamic community rejects their battle, is horrified by their methods and accuses them of having followed in kharijites’s footsteps. Whether we like it or not, Daesh forces have deeply altered the frail equilibriums of the Middle Eastern region, challenging the very existence of the nation states that emerged from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War and spreading a legacy of hatred and instability destined to affect the whole area for years, if not for decades to come. They also have the potential to extend their threat to the West as well, Europe in primis, thanks in part to the significant number of foreign fighters who have left our continent to join their ranks. But how is possible that a movement that in 2010 was considered in its death throes succeeded a few years later to emerge as a key player in Syria and Iraq and to openly challenge the predominance of al-Qa‘ida over the radical Islamic galaxy? Who are these extremists who terrorize entire provinces and what are their ideological bases? And – even more important – is their hold so entrenched on the territories they control that we will have to become accustomed to the existence of the Islamic State and its reshaping of the modern Middle East?
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteNew (and Old) Patterns of Jihadism: al-Qa‘ida, the Islamic State and Beyond
EditorANDREA PLEBANI
Pagine3-25
Numero di pagine23
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2014

Keywords

  • AL-QAIDA
  • IRAQ
  • ISIS
  • ISLAMIC STATE

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