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Global Jihad et l'arène européenne

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Global Jihad and the European Arena

Reuven Paz


Presentation in the International conference on Intelligence and Terrorism

Priverno, Italy

15-18 May 2002

A Draft


This presentation is about to focus on two elements: the phenomenon of Global Jihad and its implications on Europe and Muslim communities in Europe. In the past seven months of international war against world terrorism, primarily the Islamist one, there were many arrests, interrogations, and investigations of terrorists or suspected terrorists and sympathizers, in Europe. They seemed so far to focus on the operational levels, but not enough on the cultural and social infrastructure of this phenomenon. Arresting terrorists or suspected as such is vital. Yet, the work is not completed if European countries such as Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, or Poland, are hosting radical Islamist web sites for example, that feed on a daily basis, the radical messages of the supporters of the “Culture of Global Jihad.” Intelligence and security services should, while fighting terrorism, concentrate also on gathering information that will supply them the better understanding of the ideological, cultural, educational, and social factors of this dangerous phenomenon, in order to counter it efficiently.

It is important also to distinguish here between the terms “Islamic” and “Islamist” in discussion of terrorism. In general, Islamic movements are those that employ nonviolent means, however subversive, to restore the past—that is to found a single, unified Islamic state (Khilafah), whose sole constitution is the Islamic law (Shari’ah). Since there is no distinction in Islam between religion and politics, these groups recruit support through political efforts alongside their social-welfare and cultural activities, all of which they call Da’wah. In contrast, Islamists direct all their efforts toward fulfilling the duty of Jihad by violence and terror, which often necessitates excommunicating their Muslim rivals and the secular parts of Muslim society along with the non-Muslim world. These Islamist groups are the primary subject of this presentation.

The culture of Global Jihad

The term Global Jihad marks and reflects the solidarity of variety of movements, groups, and sometimes ad hoc groupings or cells, which act under a kind of ideological umbrella of radical interpretations of Islam. These interpretations are mainly a result of older developments in the Arab world since the early 1960s; the tendency to focus on easily adopted elements of Islam; A relative ignorance of principal elements of Orthodox Islam as a result of the spread of secularism; and above all – great difficulties in coping with the environment of Western modernization and its values, both in the West and in the Westernizing Arab societies.

It reflects also a process of consolidation of multi-national and various trends and doctrines in the past twenty years, and in several arenas in the Muslim world and the West. Such process took place since the early 1980s in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Albania, Kosovo, Chechnya, and Kashmir, on one hand, and among Muslim communities in Europe and North America. It was a result of global changes such as the dismantling of the Soviet Union and the Socialist camp of Eastern Europe; the renewal of old nationalist ideologies and conflicts; the shift of the center of gravity of the Islamist activity from the Arab world to the margins of the Middle East or to Europe, following the success of Arab governments to counter this radical phenomenon in their homelands; the liberal attitude of European governments and parts of their societies towards waves of Muslim immigrants on one hand, and towards social changes in existing Muslim communities, on the other; and the creation of central meeting points of Islamist radicals.

To the above elements we should add social, economic, and political factors, in the Arab and Muslim world and among Muslim communities in the West. These factors assisted in creating a closer solidarity between various scholars, groups, sympathizers, and circles of frustrated Islamic elements. This solidarity is primarily based upon deep hatred for a necessary enemy and kind of apocalyptic perceptions, which reflects the eternal fight between the Lord and the Devil, the good and wrong, or the light and darkness. Global Jihad in recent years became therefore, a solidarity based upon narrow-minded interpretations of limited Islamic principles, and a sense of confrontation with a Western global conspiracy. The solidarity is better consolidated due to various factors such as the rapid spread of communications, Media, and above all the Internet. These means of globalization encourages the “brotherhood of the oppressed.” Islamist interpretations, and sometimes misinterpretations, grant this brotherhood the religious justification for fighting this conspiracy in Islamic means and perceptions of Jihad, even when this Jihad is using what Western political culture calls Terrorism. As long as this terrorism is facing “the Devil, heresy, and the betrayal of secular Muslim societies and regimes, it is given more legitimacy by the process of constant demonizing of the enemy.

On the grounds of the afore mentioned, it is interesting to see the Islamist view and definition of the global Jihad movement, and the terms they use. The best possible definition has been written by Omar Abu Omar, alias Abu Qutadah, a Palestinian residing in London under political asylum since 1993, and one of the main ideologues of this phenomenon. In an article titled “The comprehension of the civilizational view and the duty of Jihad” from his collection of “Articles between two Doctrines” he wrote:

When we talk about the Jihad movements in the Islamic world we mean those groups and organizations that were established in order to eliminate the evil (Taghutiyyah) heretic (Kafirah) regimes in the apostate countries (Bilad al-Riddah), and to revive the Islamic government that will gather the nation under the Islamic Caliphate.

But, the “True Jihad movements differ from the variety of other Islamic groups that act in the various Muslim countries and seek political legitimacy of the “heretic” regimes. In such case, the conflict between these last groups and the government is between a Muslim regime and its citizens, and not between “Heretic and apostate state and a group that seeks to eliminate and change it”.


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