EICTP Expert Paper: Understanding the Global Jihadist Movement
Since 9/11 Western governments have committed multinational multi-billion-dollar efforts and exerted continuous military pressure to counter Islamist terrorist groups. Following such outlay of resources and sacrifice of lives, politicians, policymakers, and pundits have been keen to announce the so-called defeat and demise of transnational terrorist groups such as al-Dawlat al-Islamiyya (IS) and al-Qaeda (AQ).
However, the unfortunate reality is that the global Salafi-Jihadi movement has demonstrated enduring resilience, expanded its operational capability, and recruited a large and more diverse generation of followers than ever before. To date, Western countries have analysed and responded to transnational Salafi-Jihadi movements through a Western-centric lens, and in doing so have successively underestimated the global threat of Salafi-Jihadi terrorism.
Instead of relying primarily on English language material, a meticulous knowledge of the sources of the Salafi-Jihadi material, the Arabic scripts and the relevant translations into other languages, is required in order to clearly identify problematic theological content and to be able to consistently counter both militant and pro-, yet non-militant endeavors.
By using a theological linguistic evidence-based approach, this article outlines some of the current analytical gaps, identifies a new robust approach, and offers concrete recommendations to policy makers, academics, and counterterrorism practitioners on how to better understand the global jihadi movement in 2021.
About the authors
Dr. Ali Fisher
Ali Fisher is an advisor, strategist and author who delivers strategic insight into complex information ecosystems, often containing extreme or illegal content. Ali has a dual specialism in Strategic Communication and Data Science and has worked on Strategic Communication projects for European and US Government Departments specifically focused on achieving and measuring influence.
Dr. Nico Prucha
is Chief Content Curator at Human Cognition and Head of the Extremism Desk at T3K. He is a fluent Arabic speaking specialist in Jihadist theology and strategy. His work has covered the use of the internet by Jihadist groups from the mid-2000s to the present and documented shifts in strategy from Forum to Twitter to Telegram. His blog is available at www.onlinejihad.net.