5 December 2017
The Current State of Islamic Extremism
Islamic Extremism has become increasingly prevalent in
the recent decades. Due to a number of political betrayals, violent outbreaks,
and mass deportations, parts of the Islamic world have become radicalized and
good impressions of the West have rapidly decayed. This hatred of the West has
led to increased terror attacks, as well as the spread of a negative stigma
Throughout the past hundred years Western governments
have promised the Islamic world peace and justice, the likes of which were
virtually never delivered. One example of the political betrayal was the
Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Sykes-Picot Agreement planned to split the Ottoman
Empire excluding territory West of Damascus, and was in direct violation of the
McMahon-Hussein letters. Its existence was released to the World Press by
Bolsheviks to appease their fear of imperialist control in the Middle East. The
McMahon-Hussein letters set up a deal of sorts between Hussein Ibn-Ali Sharif
of Mecca and British lieutenant colonial McMahon. In exchange for Arab
independence, a revolt was to be led against the Ottomans. The Sykes-Picot
Agreement violated the deal between the British and the Arab army because it
allocated Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq to British control as colonial states. It
also gave the French control over Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey for a short period
of time. A revolt against the Ottoman army had been exchanged for colonialism
from a different administration, rather than complete independence of the Arab
army. This situation created a great animosity from Arabs that was attributed
to Western infidelity and betrayal.
The Balfour Declaration, the most benign of the
agreements by far, was intended to re-establish a Jewish and Arab nation in
Israel. The British wanted a Jewish state in Palestine but wanted to create it
in a way that did not infringe on the rights of the native population. This
stipulation was ignored when the map of Palestine was being redistricted.
Instead of being mapped by cultures or religions, Palestine was partitioned in
the colonial style using straight lines. Effectively forcing cultural groups
that had hated each other for centuries, to live in a community together. This
added to the animosity felt by the Islamic people towards the West.
An agreement called the Camp David Accords was created by
the United States President Richard Nixon, and was signed in 1978 by Egypt and
Israel at Camp David in North Carolina. The Camp David Accords essentially
created a cease-fire between the Egyptian and Israeli armies. Under the Accords
the Israeli army had to evacuate completely from the Sinai, but no protective
measures were taken to ensure Palestinian safety. A chain of diplomatic
cooperation between Egypt and Israel was also created. Egyptian president Anwar
el-Sadat was heavily praised by the Western media, but was ridiculed and hated
by the rest of the Arab World. As a result of the Accords Egypt was officially
no longer considered part of the Arab League, “a voluntary association of
countries whose peoples are mainly Arabic speaking or where Arabic is an
official language.” After the Accords, Palestinians felt that they had no one
to fall back on for support and because of this, tensions towards the West and
towards Egypt heightened and Palestinians turned to the PLO.
The PLO is the Palestine Liberation
Organization, created in Cairo at the first Arab Summit. Thirteen nations
banded together for the liberation of Palestine, and elected Fatah leader
Yasser Arafat as their Chairman. The PLO’s constitution or covenant essentially
wanted all of Palestine to be liberated and called for “the destruction of the
State of Israel.” Many acts of terrorism were created and carried out by the
PLO such as:
murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games; the killing of
21 school children at Ma’alot in 1974′ the death of 35 people and wounding of
85 in an attack on Israeli tourist buses along the Hafia-Tel Aviv coastal
highway in 1978′ the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 and the
murder of disabled American Jewish passenger Leon Klinghoffer.
The PLO is one example of
an Islamic extremist group that spreads their political ideals through the use
of violence and terror.
The political side of current Islamic extremism comes
mostly from events surrounding the Battle of Kosovo, which has practically
dominated politics since its occurrence. The battle took place shortly after
the Ottoman army was decimated by Timur, and left the Ottoman Empire in
shambles until 1413. Because of the weak policies and rules of succession, the
Ottoman Empire found it difficult to recover. To appease the difficulties, the
Ottoman Empire began to incorporate Mongolian policies into their government.
This was the first time Mongol law had been mixed in with Islamic law. The
Ottoman Empire also tried to incorporate Western ideals into their government.
When this did not work because of governmental corruption and Islamic
conservative policies, the Islamic world began to view the West in a negative
In order to create a more pliable population, Islamic
extremists in authoritarian and governmental positions have deported many of
the people with a form of higher education. Those that are left in the Middle
East are isolated and religious extremists with often little to no formal
education. These people can hardly think for themselves, and often do what is
demanded of them by extreme and strict interpretations of the Qur’an. Maintaining
an uneducated population is an apparent goal of ISIS, or the Islamic State in
Syria. “In late 2015, six months had passed since ISIS shut down one of the
Middle East’s biggest research and education centers, The University of Mosul.”
with eliminating an educated population, violent extremists are also recruiting
children at a young impressionable age. Under a theocracy, children are taught
from a young age, extremist ideals. Because children are still in the stage of
moral development, they simply do not know any different. Extremist
organizations increasingly use brain-washing of children to create child
soldiers, in order to expand and ensure the future of extremism. A few examples
of these extremist organizations using these tactics are “the Pakistani
Taliban, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Lebanese Hezbollah” and most recently
ISIS. These extremist groups often buy, kidnap, or are given children by
parents to “become men and leaders of the next generation.” The child soldiers,
or Caliphate Cubs, are inspired to hate and carry out extremist goals even to
the extent of killing their parents. According to humanium.org “there were
three times as many child soldiers in 2015 as there were in 2014.”
issue fostering extremism is the conflict over ancestral lands. For centuries Palestinians
have laid claim to the territory they believed was Palestine, this was
contested by Israeli ancestral claims to much of the same territory. Following the advent of Zionism, European
money was used to buy Palestinian-owned land during the 1948 war of
independence. Zionism is belief in the movement for the re-establishment of a
Jewish nation in Israel. This was done by Zionist leaders so that Palestinian
natives could be removed from land which was to be a new Jewish settlement.
Because of the events and refugees created by the Holocaust, which ended in
1945, the effects of this mass deportation were insuperable. The refuges from
the Holocaust often had no homes to go back to when liberated from the
concentration camps. Instead, they moved into the Middle East and occupied the
homes of Palestinian refugees. More hostility for Westerners was obviously
raised from this situation. To this day Jewish settlements are continuing to be
authorized by the Israeli government in the contested West Bank and Golon
Heights regions. As recently as March 30, 2017, “Israel’s government has
approved the establishment of a new settlement in the West Bank… and has also
laid the groundwork for further expansion.” Further, Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu authorized “thousands of new housing units in the occupied
In addition to the influx of Jewish refugees, other
outside influences affected rising tensions in the region. In December 1979 to
February 1989, the Soviet Union and the United States engaged in a Cold War
proxy war in Afghanistan. The Mujahideen and small Maoist groups backed by the
United States staged guerilla warfare against the Soviet Army and the
Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. By the end of the conflict the Soviet Union
had fled Afghanistan, and a strong insurgency was left in place. The Afghan
government was left to fight the American-backed insurgency un-aided. This
fostered bitterness and mistrust for anyone outside the country.
to Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer, “radicalism is sparked when the
individual reacts to stories of Muslim suffering around the world with moral
outrage.” Sageman states that through the eyes of those experiencing the moral
outrage, the political and physical disputes between the West and Islam become
“Manichaean war.” After a clear enemy is set, the individual’s anger is fueled
based on discrimination that they have personally experienced. A fourth stage
is presented in Sageman’s ideals. In the fourth stage, the up-and-coming
extremist is initiated into a small group of people who shares his views.
Keeping the tradition of groupthink, all critical thinking skills are shut down
and the ability to make decisions for one’s self is almost non-existent. The
individual surrounds themselves with input that solidifies and justifies their
views, and “prepares them for action.” These stages of radicalism often lead to
acts of terrorism in the name of religion, therefore taking that religion to
Because of the mixture of hatred for Western culture and
mistrust of Western Governments, along with decimating battles and the mass
deportation of educated peoples, parts of the Islamic world have become very
violent and have descended into extremist ideology. These extremist views are centuries
old, but are propagating pervasively in today’s political and cultural climates.
Extremist beliefs, exacerbated by outside influences have created a tinder box of
conflict in Islamic territories and increasingly throughout the world. Despite the
efforts of the world governments, Islamic extremism continues to grow unchecked.
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