Islamic extremism has been in the news constantly ever since the bombing of the Twin Towers in 2001. Due to an increase in terrorists attacks in the recent years, we must ask ourselves “why?” What are the roots of this extremism?
The roots of Islamic extremism goes as far back as the 1930’s, where some radical Islamists have been promoting the idea of Jihad (holy war). At the time, the Jihadists were jailed and tortured for their beliefs, which went against the religious ideals of the time, which was far more peaceful.
In 1981, Islamic Jihadists assassinated the Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, leaving behind a 54 page manifesto explaining why they did what they did. This manuscript was directed mainly at other followers of Islam, explaining to them that it is the duty of Muslims to kill off their leaders if said leaders have left the path of “true” Islam. At the time, rebelling against Islamic leaders was forbidden.
Noted terrorist Osama Bin Laden played on these beliefs. He even argued the point that killing innocent people, including other Muslims, is justified if it serves the purpose of the Jihadist movement. In fact, Bin laden believed that anyone who did not strictly follow the tenants of the Quran were no longer Muslims. In the eyes of Sharia Law (the religious law), anyone who is no longer Muslim is a traitor, and therefore must be killed. He believed Islam has been corrupted by idolatry and sin, and seeked to bring Islam back to its more pure days.
Now this history is very complex and complicated, and deals with many facets that go far beyond this scope. It is good to know, however, why we act the way we act, and why terrorists do what they do. Knowing the reasons why help to prevent us from repeating history.