Islamic extremism is a social movement, which started in the 1960s and cycled through four phases until it is as it is now. The current phase, with Boko Haram, ISIS and other known Islamic extremist groups, is still rising, but ultimately they will recycle … to the next one.
- Phase 1 started in the 1960s and 1970s, influenced by factors reaching back centuries, began in the 1960s and 1970s when, as part of a broader religious resurgence in the Muslim world, the ideology of Islamism surged from the margins towards the mainstream.
- Phase 2 started in the 1990s with the renewed violent militancy, caused by repressed social growth from the first cycle.
- Phase 3 started at the end of the 1990s, which target of the Islamic Extremism was now global with the important role of Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida, which peaked with the 9/11 attack on the US.
- Phase 4 started with the aftermath of the Arab spring, the hideous violence of Syria, the failure of Iraq (and of western policy making in the Middle East), regional squabbles, renewed Shia v Sunni competition and the rise of Islamic State.
The current wave of terrorism is not coming out of nowhere, but it’s born 40 years back in history. Certain political movements around the globe, labeled as right-movements, claim that the Islamic violence originates from the birth of Islam in the year 610. Other political movements around the globe claim that the violence started as a reaction against waves of western imperialism in the Islamic world, starting at 1798.
Both sides are right, factually. There is enough proof that extreme Islamic violence during and after the year 610 occurred, and that western imperialism took place and started specifically in 1798, conquering and occupying what’s now Arab and Muslim land.
This is what people like President Obama stubbornly believes in, that the violence and extremism is born as (only) a product from western imperialism in the Islamic world centuries ago. His whole Islamic policy is build on that believe. Or worse, his Middle East and security policy is based on that and that’s extremely dangerous, because it leads to isolationism and that create power vacuums, resulting in out-of-control conflicts, surge in terror, death, destruction, violence and genocides … exactly what’s happening today.
Factually, the current terror violence started in the 1960s and 1970s, influenced by factors centuries ago (western imperialism in the Islamic world in 1798 and the birth of Islam in 610) as part of a broader religious resurgence in the Muslim world.
The current terror violence started (or maybe restarted according others) in the 1960s and 1970s.
The ideology of Islamism surged from margins towards mainstream. With Arabic totalitarian regimes, forcing western inspired nationalism, secularism and socialism on the Arab masses without resolving the economical and social problems, the surge of authentic, faith-based alternatives like the ideology of Islam. In Iran, in 1979, the Islamists seized the power and until now kept it. Their slogans are now the familiar slogans against the west, Israel, America, decadence and social iniquity.
In 1968, U.S. presidential candidate Robert Kennedy murdered by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan, in LA, USA, which causes further terrorist attacks, as Arab terrorist groups demanded his release. In 1970, Swiss airliner blown up over Switzerland, killing all 47 people on board, bomb explodes aboard a Philippines airliner. All 36 aboard are killed. “Skyjack Sunday” in Jordan. 3 planes (TWA, Swissair, Pan Am) en route to the U.S. hijacked, 400+ hostages, planes blown up in Jordan, Governments agreed to PFLP’s demands, released terrorists from jails and hostages released. in 1972, Palestinian terrorists seize 11 athletes in the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany, 9 hostages and 5 terrorists killed, plus David Berger from Cleveland. Bomb explodes at Pan Am office at Rome, Italy killing 32 and injuring 50+. The terrorists take 7 Italian policemen hostage and hijack an aircraft to Athens, Greece, killing one of them. And much more of such attacks took place in those years.
The scare part of this political and social trend is the idea that a modern state must be ruled by an interpretation of Muslim teachings, like some more indigenous, a hardline, puritanical conservatism. Wahhabism emerged, boosted by preaching funded by Gulf petrol-dollars.In the background of this violence, we saw many things happen – such as those who seized the main mosque in Mecca in 1979, killed President Anwar Sadat of Egypt in 1981, or blew themselves up in Lebanon in the early 1980s. The world woke up to the new threat. Eventually crackdowns in Egypt and elsewhere, such as that which killed thousands of Islamists in Syria in 1982, in effect repressed the problem.
Just like a pot with cooking water without outlet, it explodes and the second cycle was born. That exactly happened a decade later (1990s) when the renewed violent militancy led to slaughter within the Arab world.
Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, destroyed by bomb killing 29, injuring 60, World Trade Center in New York badly damaged by a massive bomb by Islamic terrorists. The van bomb was planted in an underground garage and left 6 people dead and 1042 injured, In 8 separate incidents, 19 Western tourists traveling in southeastern Turkey were kidnapped, including U.S. citizen Starger, after weeks in captivity, they were released, 86 civilians killed and 300 wounded in bomb attack on Jewish social centre in Buneos Aires, Argentina, Islamic Jihad militants blow themselves up amid a group of soldiers near Netanya, killing 21, Islamic terrorists explode bomb in metro station in Paris, France, killing 7 people and injuring 84, Islamic terrorist rampage during these 14 days with car bombs and beheadings in Algiers, total of 238 dead, 139 wounded, Terrorists behead innocent civilians this whole month with a total of 272 murdered and over 100 injured. Knives, axes and chainsaws were used and many of the bodies were burned while still alive, etc.
Fueled by the veterans and ideas of the conflict in Afghanistan, repression of “moderate” Islamists, and by economic strains, it was contained within the Islamic world. But it was lethal. In Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere, civil conflicts killed hundreds of thousands. The violence was savage, with massacres and beheadings. The tactic of suicide attacking was developed further. The twin strands of Islamism – the political project, and Wahhabi conservatism – fused into a new powerful ideology. This time, attrition and division within the militant factions, as well as repression, weakened the threat for that moment.
The third cycle started at the end of the 1990s. This time the target was global. Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida launched a series of strikes culminating in the 9/11 attacks of 2001. This campaign of international violence, fueled further by the invasion of Iraq, continued until the end of the last decade, when it, too, began to fade. The key factor this time was, after indications of early attraction for some, the rejection of Bin Laden’s ideas and methods by populations throughout the Islamic world. With al-Qaida itself degraded and eventually decapitated – Bin Laden was killed in 2011 – security officials looked happier than they had for years. The main threat was, it was said, from “lone wolves”.
Simultaneous bombs in US Embassies in Kenya, and Tanzania, heavily damaged by massive attacks. In the Nairobi attack 292 people were killed, including 12 Americans, and 5,000 injured. 10 people were killed and 86 injured in Tanzania incident for a total of 302 dead, 5086 injured within an hour, 16 Western tourists kidnapped, 12 Britons, 2 U.S. citizens, and 2 Australians on the main road to Aden, Yemen. Four victims were killed during a rescue attempt the next day, Russian apartment bombings kill almost 300 and injured 100, EgyptAir Flight 990 crashed off the U.S. coast of Massachusetts, killing all 217 people on board, including 100 Americans, 4 U.S. jetliners hijacked and forced to crash into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon like missiles, and 1 crashed in Pennsylvania on the way to the Capital Building in D.C. In all, 266 people perished in the four planes, 2602 people were killed on the ground, plus 343 firefighters, and 184 people at the Pentagon. Almost 5000 injured, 500 rescue workers now have respiratory ailments. 7 buildings collapsed in NY and 23 damaged, plus 4 subway stations, etc.
Then came this new phase: the aftermath of the Arab spring, the American isolationism, the hideous – out of control – violence and carnage of Syria, the failure of Iraq (and of western policy making in the Middle East), regional squabbles, renewed Shia vs Sunni competition (Iran’s terror supporting influences) and the rise of Islamic State, the rise of Islamic Extremism in Africa and all with its carnage, genocides and barbarism. Add multiple crises in Europe, including the failure of European Muslim integration, the rise of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation of nominally Muslim children born there, and we are where we are today.
This didn’t happen yet, because currently we are still in the rising 4th cycle of the ideology of Islamism. But there are signs and maybe previews.
What’s happening in Israel and the handling of their flavor of Palestinian terror might be a sign. They try to handle the terror from Palestinian children, women and men, triggered by extreme incitement from the Palestinians leaders using the official and social media on TV, newspapers and the Internet. The Israelis call this new form of terror the stabbing terror.
After many decades of finding ways to have peace with the Palestinians, the Israelis chose for protection. They managed to live in a democratic state, which is fortified against the normal Islamic extremist terrorists. What Europe is suffering from currently, the Israelis have that already resolved years ago with a high success rate. Maybe that’s the reason why new forms of terror pops up here at first.
Another indicator is the push towards possessing the so called Arab nuclear weapon and other forms of weapons of mass destruction. This is indeed a worrying trend and that might be part of the next cycle of the religious resurgence in the Muslim world!
The next indicator to this phase is the penetration of the western society, several important political organizations and the press. This became obvious during the last Hamas-Israeli conflict, when Hamas managed to receive a massive boost in reporting from all over the world, and has since then grown considerable. Can you imagine that, an acknowledged terror organization receiving widespread positive acknowledgement?
This trend about cycling of the religious resurgence in the Muslim world is worrisome, because each cycle the ideology of Islamism becomes more violent, more dangerous and vicious. It’s waiting for the phase number 5 to appear when the current one is fading away. If the violent trend can continue and the rest of the world is not responding correctly, it will result in war.
There are ways to protect a democratic society against terror (by layering the security of the society and successfully protect each store, restaurant and where people come together), just like the Israelis have done. Read about it here.
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