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The Persistence of Islamist Terrorism Since 1979

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The root causes of the persistence of Islamist terrorism from 1979 through the present age are many and complex. The choosing of a particular timeframe as a reference point indicates the political and religious dimensions of the thesis topic. The research topic is sensitive because of religious and political undertones, and any arbitrary assumptions could lead to the over-simplification of a complex problem. Terrorism in general and violence in the name of religion have serious repercussions for world peace, particularly in the Islamic world. U.S.- and Western-led overtly militarized foreign policies in the Islamic world have contributed to the structural deficiencies in the Islamic world by providing support to nondemocratic and authoritarian regimes for strategic and short-term foreign policy goals. Radical Islamist ideology and its appeal in Muslim societies have found legitimacy through the misinterpreted context of the Quran and other texts. The constructivist interpretation of extremists of takfir, jihad, and martyrdom add to the prevailing chaos. The poor governance of authoritarian and non-democratic regimes has created social grievances in the Islamic world, which in turn have helped fuel extremism and terrorism. These factors provide an insight into the religious and political aspects behind the persistence of Islamist terrorism. No single factor can be attributed as the cause of terrorism the enabling environment creates a sum total in which different stakeholders interpret the problem from their perspectives.

Subject Categories:

  • Humanities and History
  • Government and Political Science
  • Unconventional Warfare

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