Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use

Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use – CULTURAL, IDEOLOGICAL AND RELIGIOUS MOTIVATORS FOR IED INCIDENTS

Eight of the ten worst perpetrators of IED attacks can either be placed squarely in the Salafi-jihadi camp or at least be seen as having an ideology based on a violent interpretation of Islam. It should be noted that explosive violence, in the shape of IED incidents or suicide bombings, is not confined to Islam, or even the Salafi-jihadi interpretation of it. Explosive violence has been and is being used by all kinds of groups, ranging from nationalist to anarchist in ideology.  Believing it to be unique to Islam would be not only factually incorrect but also not conducive to the prevention of IED violence. However the past five years have, to AOAV’s best knowledge, seen an unprecedented wave of IED attacks being incorporated both in military strategies and in attacks targeting civilians, and most of the perpetrators of these attacks subscribe to Salafi-jihadism.  In light of this, AOAV believes it is important to investigate what religious justifications within Islam, and specifically within Salafism, are being used to legitimise the loss of life through explosive violence. However, it is not the intention of this report to scapegoat any one religion or community, as that would be directly counter-productive in efforts to curb the rise of IED attacks around the world.

Furthermore, there are other, demographic, political and socio-economic, factors in play and, since only a minority of Salafists accept the jihadi arguments for committing violence, it is important that we also examine other motivations.  Some of these are also considered separately in our report “Understanding the rising cult of suicide bombers”.

Salafi teachings

What unites many of the groups examined in this report is their ideological base. All of the main IED perpetrators, with the possible exception of the Taliban and the TTP, have their ideological roots in a violent interpretation of Salafi Islam. The Arabic word salaf means ‘ancestors’, or ‘predecessors’, and Salafism thus refers back to the Prophet Muhammad and his companions and the two following generations of Muslims. These first three generations of Muslims are collectively known as al-Salaf al-Salihin (the pious predecessors). The reason why these generations are given importance stems from a hadith (a report describing the Prophet’s way of life) in which the Prophet praises his own and the two generations following his as possessing the best characteristics of Muslims. Consequently, Salafists believe that a return to the way of life of these three generations of pious predecessors is the only pure and authentic understanding of Islam, which inevitably results in a very conservative and rigid interpretation of the faith.[i]

Still, it is difficult (and wrong) to speak of Salafism as one monolithic bloc. Different strands within the movement believe in different methods (manahij) of reaching Salafism’s vision of ‘pure’ Islam. One of these manahij is Wahhabism, formulated by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the 18th century. Abd al-Wahhab formed a pact with the Arabian warlord Muhammad bin Saud, which led to the establishment of the first Saudi state in 1744. Wahhabism is today the official Saudi state ideology, and the basis for the country’s conservative legislation. It should be noted that neither Salafism nor Wahhabism is inherently violent. An individual subscribing to ultraconservative beliefs is not automatically going to embrace violent methods. However, there are characteristics of both that are potentially problematic. For example, certain strands within Salafism reject any authority of nation states or international order, and some of them choose violence as a means to overturn the status quo. These strands should be seen as constituting a separate category: Salafi-jihadism.[ii]

Ideological underpinnings for jihad

Salafi-jihadism has been seen as a reaction to several things, mainly the perceived failures of political Islam in the 1990s, as well as the intellectual crisis in the Salafi movement when Saudi Arabia, supposedly the bastion of Salafism, invited US troops onto its soil in 1990 during the Gulf War. Different Salafi-jihadi thinkers and organisations vary considerably on many issues, both theologically and practically, but they are united by a strong focus on the importance of military struggle (jihad) combined with an often uncompromising and literalist reading of scripture and religious law (the Sharia). This often entails the excommunication (takfir) of non-believers, which in the extreme Salafi-jihadi interpretation may mean anyone who is not loyal to the group.  This idea is further elaborated in the concept of al-wala wa-l-bara (loyalty and disavowal).

These religiously based concepts further inform a black-and-white view of a world of believers and non-believers.  In Salafi-jihadism it is often considered legitimate to take armed action against non-believers and enemies, as this is seen as defending Islam.[iii] It should be noted that the word ‘jihad’, which literally means ‘struggle’, can mean either an internal struggle against evil or simple temptations (the greater jihad) or an external struggle against the enemies of Islam (the lesser jihad). Thanks in large part to the Salafi-jihadis, the word has come to be primarily understood in its militaristic connotation. Given the nature of this report, the word ‘jihad’ will be used to describe the latter.

Religious justifications for IED incidents drawn from Muslim jurisprudence

Although Salafi-jihadism represents a fringe movement within Islam, transnational IED networks frequently make use of religious justifications for explosive violence. In order to understand these workings, it is worth briefly examining Islamic jurisprudence and the way in which it can be taken to justify the use of IEDs against combatants and civilians. Understanding how groups such as IS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others use jurisprudential justifications for targeting civilians can provide a way toward understanding how their brutal acts can be rationalised using Islamic legal arguments. Conversely, Islamic jurisprudential discourse may also be used as a means of calling on groups to abide by normative Islamic values and principles in a bid to lessen civilian harm.

The main sources of Islamic jurisprudence, from which the legitimacy of any action, including the targeting of civilians, may be determined, are the Quran and the Sunnah, which includes hadiths. Secondary sources are ijma (consensus), qiyas (analogy), istihsan (juristic preference) and aql wa ray (reason and opinion). Ijma refers to the consensus reached by the Prophet’s companions and classical scholars. Qiyas uses analogy to deal with various cases involving new phenomena that were not familiar to the Prophet and his contemporaries. For example, date wine was forbidden in early Islamic times due to its intoxicating effects. When grape wine was introduced, there was no established religious view concerning this new phenomenon, which is why qiyas was used to determine that it should be forbidden, since its effects (intoxication) were analogous to those of date wine. Istihsan is when a particular jurist documents a preferred position in a given contextual situation – for instance, whether it is lawful to target an opposing army when non-combatants are present. Aql wa ray refers to the process of deducing law by means of logic and intellect. Using these principles, individual preachers and scholars can issue religious opinions (fatwas) on any given issue. When issuing a fatwa, a scholar should take into account the sources mentioned above. Fatwas do not have any legal or religiously binding effect, but can nevertheless be used by individuals or groups in order to justify their actions. In fact, many terrorist groups have their own scholars who frequently issue fatwas on various matters.

The mainstream Islamic position, based on the above sources, is that non-combatants may not to be targeted. However, the fact that it is possible to use the above legal methods to deduce whether or not an act is permissible allows groups to justify and legitimise their actions by manipulating and stretching certain concepts. This, in turn, may ‘permit’ their usage of IEDs to target civilians. However, there is internal criticism of some such attacks even within the Salafi-jihadi camp. For example, well known scholars such as Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatadah (both with affiliations to al-Qaeda) have issued warnings against attacks on civilians.

The Mardin fatwa

One religious justification put forward by groups who use IEDs against civilians, and most importantly against other Muslims, is the Mardin fatwa issued by Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328), who is generally seen as one of the most important scholarly voices in Salafi-jihadi intellectual tradition. The Mardin fatwa refers to a Turkish fortress in southeastern Turkey in the 13th century that had a mixed population of Muslims and non-Muslims and was besieged by the invading Mongol armies. The fatwa was given in response to a question as to whether Mardin was part of dar al-Islam (a realm of peace, safe for Muslim practices) or dar al harb (a realm of war, where Islam is under threat).  This edict was deemed crucial, as Mardin was inhabited by both Muslims and non-Muslims but was ruled by the Mongols, who had converted to Islam. Ibn Taymiyyah’s response was that Mardin was neither one thing nor the other. Rather, it represented a third type of domain, in which Muslims should be treated as they deserved. If they deviated from the way of Islam, they should be treated as unbelievers, and this was how Ibn Taymiyyah viewed the invading Mongols. By extension, Ibn Taymiyyah made it ‘permissible’ to wage armed conflict against even Muslim peoples and rulers, even Muslims if they were deemed to be apostates. This fatwa has repeatedly been used by jihadi groups to justify their aim of overthrowing regional regimes and their killing of civilians, even if they are Muslim, and is closely linked to the concept of excommunication (takfir) mentioned above.

Modern Salafi-jihadi scholars have used Ibn Taymiyyah’s fatwa as a precedent legitimising the use of IEDs against civilians. Thinkers like Sayyid Abul A‘la Mawdudi,[iv] Hassan al- Banna,[v] and Sayyid Qutb[vi] have also developed Ibn Taymiyyah’s philosophy,[vii] writing extensively on jihad and its goals. They have broadly asserted that the Islamic governance system can be maintained and protected, if not expanded, through violence. These thinkers have influenced non-state armed groups, including Al-Qaeda’s first in command, Ayman al- Zawahiri.

IS’s burning to death of Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh

One recent example of the contrivance of legitimacy from Islamic sources is the burning to death of Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh.  The case made headlines when IS released a video of the fatal immolation in January 2015. Beside the brutal manner in which they murdered their prisoner, the act was controversial due to the mainstream Islamic scholarly opinion that it is forbidden to use fire as a means of punishment. However, IS rationalised their use of fire by using the method of qisas, which is mentioned in the Quran as a way of providing retaliation for a crime. This retaliation is often equal in nature to the crime, which makes it similar to the idea of ‘an eye for an eye’. However, qisas is usually concerned with providing justice between individuals, in effect between the victim and the criminal, a criterion that the burning of al-Kasabeh did not meet, as the people in IS who ordered and carried out the burning were not actual victims of his ‘crimes’.

Furthermore, IS applied the concept of mumathala to justify their use of fire, as it refers to reciprocity in punishment. The word mumathala is derived from the root mathala, which means ‘to resemble, copy or imitate’. Since the Jordanian pilot had dropped bombs on people, and thus killed them with ‘fire’, IS judged it legitimate to kill him by the same means.[viii] This once again demonstrates how IS works within existing, although not widely accepted, traditions of jurisprudence, and is concerned with its actions being religiously justifiable.

On the international stage, qisas could be used to legitimise attacks on foreign nationals. Although qisas is usually used against a known aggressor, some Salafi-jihadi thinkers have expanded it to entire nationalities. Yusuf al-‘Uyayri is seen as the person who popularised this application of qisas. He did so based on the principle of mafhūm al-muwāfaqa (the understanding of consent), arguing that individuals can be complicit in crimes committed by groups with which they affiliate, such as their elected governments. This could thus be understood to legitimise the killing of any US nationals in retaliation for deaths the US Army has inflicted in Muslim countries, although this is hotly debated even within Salafi-jihadi circles.[ix]

Contemporary scholars of jihad

In addition to the examples of classical jurisprudence mentioned above, it is important also to recognise the vital role that contemporary scholars play in the justification of explosive violence. We therefore offer a brief introduction to some prominent contemporary jihadi theorists.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliates

This section refers to scholars who are either ideologically aligned with, are frequently quoted by, or have given their explicit support to al-Qaeda.

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi

Maqdisi has been described as the most important living jihadi theorist, and was seen as the spiritual mentor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who founded the organisation that would later evolve into IS. Maqdisi’s legacy is still highly influential in al-Qaeda circles. Maqdisi has stated that it is permissible to kill Muslims and target Shia if necessary. A Jordanian national, he has been imprisoned several times. When in February 2015 he was released from a Jordanian prison, it was suggested he had been released in order to be able to condemn IS, as the Jordanian authorities were worried about growing IS influence in Jordan. Maqdisi has been credited, together with voices such as Abu Qatada al-Filastini, Abu Hamza al-Masri and Abu Basir al-Tartusi, with helping to theorise and popularise ideas of jihad emerging from the anti-Soviet struggle in the 1980s.[x] He is opposed to IS.

Abu Yahya al-Libi

Libyan Abu Yahya al-Libi helped theorise al-Qaeda’s justifications for the killing of civilians. Al-Libi argued that attacking unbelieving civilians was necessary from a utilitarian point of view, as the harm of not doing so would lead to greater harm to the Muslim world. Although he was killed in a drone strike in 2012, his work is influential among other scholars today, such as Abu Mundhir al-Shinqiti.

Abu Qatada al-Filastini

A Jordanian national, Abu Qatada rose to fame as the scholar who provided an intellectual basis for the radical preachings coming out of London’s Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s, during the Algerian Civil War, in support of the GIA. Abu Qatada has since been closely affiliated with al-Qaeda. Wanted on terrorism charges in several countries, he was eventually indicted in Jordan before being released in 2014. He has since been seen with Jabhat al-Nusra fighters, and has denounced IS as ‘rogues and renegades’.

The Islamic State network

This section refers to scholars who are either ideologically aligned with, are frequently quoted by, or have given their explicit support to Islamic State.

Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir

In terms of the violent tactics examined in this report, no voice is perhaps more important than Abu Abdullah al-Muhajir. An enigmatic figure, he has been credited with providing the intellectual framework legitimising much of the extreme violence employed by IS and heavily influencing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to deploy these tactics. Al-Muhajir has stated that it is permissible and of paramount importance to kill every unbeliever ‘until no infidel remains’, and has stated the legality of using unconventional weapons such as suicide bombings and other explosive violence.[xi] His book Masa’il fi Fiqh al-Jihad (Issues in the Jurisprudence of Jihad) has reportedly been taught in IS classrooms for early recruits in Nineveh province in Iraq.[xii]

Turki al-Binali

Not as well known in the West eyes as ‘caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, or IS spokesperson Mohammad al-Adnani, is Turki al-Binali, an IS mufti (one who issues fatwas). According to a biography written by one of his students, he was born in Bahrain and has lived and studied in Dubai and Lebanon. He is a former student of Maqdisi, who considered him one of his most promising disciples. However, as a member of IS, al-Binali broke with Maqdisi over his former teacher’s affiliation to al-Qaeda. He is the Islamic State’s most visible scholar, and his writings are among the most shared and read among IS recruits. Al-Binali is related to the Bahraini royal family by marriage.

Abu Mundhir al-Shinqiti

A Mauritanian Salafi-jihadi cleric who has both expressed and retracted support for IS. Shinqiti has issued fatwas calling for Christians and Jews to be targeted, and has called on Egyptians to take up arms in the Sinai. He attacked Tartusi for his criticism of the jihadi movement, stating that al-Tartusi had abandoned jihadi methodology.

Abu Muhammad al-Tahawi

One of the most important Jordanian voices in support of IS, and one of the leaders of the Jordanian Salafi movement. He has criticised Maqdisi for his attacks on IS, and stated that he will not give up his support for the group.

Omar Mahdi Zeydan

Another influential Jordanian supporter of IS, Omar Mahdi Zeydan switched allegiance to the group from al-Qaeda in 2014. Zeydan has expressed the need to wage jihad against apostate Muslims who refuse to abide by the Sharia. Zeydan was, according to Jordanin news outlets, appointed head of the IS Shura Council in September 2016.

Nasir al-Fahd

Al-Fahd is a Saudi cleric who in a 2003 fatwa justified the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). In 2015 he pledged allegiance to IS from inside his Saudi prison cell, and called on Muslims to join the group. Before being imprisoned, Nasir al-Fahd was a professor of theology at Mohammad Ibn Saud University in Riyadh.

Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fateh al-Sham

This section refers to scholars who are either ideologically aligned with, are frequently quoted by, or have given their explicit support to Jabhat al-Nusra.

Abu Musab al-Suri/Mustafa Setmariam Nasar

Abu Musab al-Suri appears to have become the main ideological inspiration for Jabhat al-Nusra. His teachings have been instrumental in Nusra’s success in integrating among local communities.[xiii]  A Syrian former guerilla fighter in Afghanistan, he has been credited with shaping much of al-Qaeda’s early military strategy, as well as being the mastermind of the 2004 Madrid bombings and the 2005 London bombings. He is a strong critic of IS.

Abdullah al-Muhaysini

A student of al-Alwan (below), Saudi cleric Abdullah al-Muhaysini is an outspoken supporter of al-Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra, with whom he has close connections, although he considers himself to be unaffiliated. However, he has been identified as a judge in Jaysh al-Fateh, a rebel coalition comprising groups including Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. As we shall see later on, he has also acted as a major fundraiser, primarily for Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria, where he is said to be based. According to Saudi Arabian news outlets, he was an early opponent of IS.


The following preachers are not necessarily aligned with any particular group, but are still seen as influential and important voices in the theorisation and proliferation of Salafi-jihadism.

Abu Basir al-Tartusi

Although he has been seen with Syrian jihadi groups and was a strong supporter of the GIA during the Algerian Civil War, Syrian cleric Abu Basir al-Tartusi argued that the 2005 London bombings were wrong and argued against the type of collective punishment employed by jihadi groups. He also opposes suicide bombings on theological grounds, and has criticised AQAP for its ‘unnecessary’ violence in Yemen. However, he has also stated that it would be wrong to abandon jihad against illegitimate rulers,[xiv] and is seen as an important member of the global jihadi community. He is an important Salafi critic of IS.

Sulaiman al-Alwan

Saudi cleric who had the 9/11 hijacker Abdulaziz al-Omari as a student. Al-Alwan has issued fatwas endorsing suicide attacks against Israel, and his mosque in the Qassim region of Saudi Arabia has been called a ‘terrorist factory’. He was arrested in 2004 and released in 2012, before being arrested again in 2013.

Abu Sa’ad al-Amili

Egyptian jihadi ideologue who has openly supported armed action in the Sinai. His work “The Reality and Future of the Jihadist Current” is seen as an important work in modern Egyptian jihadism.

Sheikh Mamdouh al-Harbi

Saudi cleric who, in a statement in 2015, said that terrorism is encouraged by the Sharia, God and the Prophet. In al-Harbi’s view, what gets people labelled as terrorists is confronting ‘infidels’ in accordance with the Sharia. Interestingly, al-Harbi said in the same statement that carrying out suicide bombings with vehicles in peaceful places with civilians present is forbidden by Islam.

Counter-arguments within Muslim jurisprudence and scholarship

Despite the examples provided above, it should be stressed that mainstream Islamic scholarship and jurisprudence condemn violence in general and violence against civilians in particular. This section looks at scholars, jurists and preachers who have denounced violence.  It will not attempt to cover all such figures, but rather looks at individuals and organisations that are active within the Salafi tradition, or within regions heavily affected by Islamist terrorism, as their voices are important in efforts to mitigate the violence.

Importantly, several condemnations of terrorism have come from Saudi religious figures. Saudi Arabia’s Council of Senior Scholars has claimed that violence and terrorism are ‘un-Islamic’, and that Islam punishes terrorist acts. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, has tried to convince people to refrain from joining ‘Kharijite[xv] terrorist groups such as IS. Similar statements have been made by the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, who has denounced the use of explosive violence, as well as Sheikh Abdullah bin Basfar, a scholar involved in the Saudi government’s counter-terrorism efforts.

An interesting condemnation has come from the former imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Adel al-Kalbani. Not only did he condemn IS, but he also stated that the group is a direct product of Salafism, and that the Salafist movement needs to take a hard look at itself. Al-Kalbani, himself a Salafist, criticised Salafism’s desire for ‘blind reenactment’ of the Prophet’s times – something he believes IS and the Salafist movement have in common – rather than taking a rationalistic approach to the times of the ‘pious predecessor’ generations. Al-Kalbani also criticised other clerics for not speaking out against IS.

Hatem al-Awni, another Saudi cleric, has made some scathing criticisms of his country’s role in feeding Islamist terror. Al-Awni’s views are too liberal to be embraced by the Saudi religious establishment, which has left him marginalised in the kingdom’s religious debates. However, his views are important, given his religious credentials. Al-Awni has slammed the emphasis placed on a specific text used in the Saudi education system, al-Durar al-saniyya fi l-ajwiba al-Najdiyya (The Glistening Pearls of Najdi Response). This is a collection of essays, fatwas and stories from the time of Mohammad Ibn Abdel Wahhab (1703-1792) up until the mid-20th century. Al-Awni sees this book as encouraging terror (IS mufti Turki al-Binali has been seen and heard quoting it several times).[xvi] Al-Awni has rebuked the Saudi religious establishment for not recognising the links between the book and Salafi-jihadism, calling the majority of those who neglect this rapport ‘crypto-jihadists’. In an essay published on his website, al-Awni has also criticised members of the religious establishment for being slow to condemn IS and for doing it ‘without conviction’.

Hassan Farhan al-Maliki, another Saudi liberal scholar, wrote in a 2004 book that the Saudi religious class are extremists.[xvii] In an interview in 2016 he took the idea further, arguing that IS is closer to traditional Salafism and Wahhabism than the Saudi religious establishment wants to admit, countering Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al al-Sheikh’s claim that IS are ‘Kharijites’ (rebels or dissidents). Although al-Maliki and al-Awni are marginal figures within the Saudi religious landscape, they provide important criticism of the current state of affairs from a religiously credible standpoint. This makes them both valuable voices against violence and particularly against a rhetoric present in Saudi Arabia that, although perhaps unwillingly, promotes violent sentiments.

In Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Scholars Council has strongly condemned terrorism in the name of Islam, together with the Islamic Council of Afghanistan and the High Peace Council. Afghan scholars such as Lotfullah Haqparast and Sayed Samiullah Sahibzada have further condemned the Taliban, stating that there is no Islamic justification for indiscriminate violence.

In Egypt, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawki Allam, and the Grand Imam of the Mosque of al-Azhar (Sunni Islam’s most prestigious institution), Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, have both condemned terrorism and violence justified on the basis of Islamic scripture. This is significant, given the grievances felt by much of the religious community in Egypt after the Sisi government’s harsh crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, starting with the Raba’a massacre on August 14, 2013, and culminating in the life sentence imposed on spiritual leader Mohammad Badie and former president Mohammad Morsi in 2015. The Muslim Brotherhood has itself spoken out against terror, complementing the occasionally pro-regime stance taken by official institutions such as al-Azhar. Moreover, Salafi preacher Ahmad al-Fouly has criticised the usage of IEDs in the Sinai, stating that it has ‘no Islamic justification’.

The Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, one of Nigeria’s most influential Muslim leaders, has encouraged Muslims to stop spreading messages of hate.  He has stated that there is nothing Islamic about terror, alluding to the violence of Boko Haram. In Syria, figures such as Muhammad al-Yaqoubi have become important Islamic voices of peace against both President Assad and IS. Another interesting example is Bilal Baroudi, a Salafi cleric from Tripoli, in Lebanon – a city which has seen many people leave to join IS in Syria. Unlike other local clerics, such as Salem al-Rafei and Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal, Baroudi has issued a fatwa against taking up arms and joining militant groups in Syria.[xviii]

In Morocco, a country from which more than a thousand recruits have gone to join IS, the government has attempted to engage Salafi preachers in their attempts to dissuade people from doing so. This has resulted in influential Salafi preachers such as Abdelkarim Chadli, Abdelwahhab Rafiki and Mohammad al-Fizari speaking out against terrorism and against joining IS.

There have also been active attempts to challenge some of the terrorist groups’ arguments theologically. For example, in March 2010 a group of scholars gathered in Mardin for a conference to reinterpret and discuss the eponymous mediaeval fatwa issued by Ibn Taymiyyah, as discussed above. The gathering was attended by a panel of twelve scholars including Abdullah bin Bayyah from Mauritania, Abdul Wahhab at-Tariri from Saudi Arabia and Habib Ali al-Jifri from Yemen. The delegates agreed that the original Mardin fatwa was not appropriate to modern times and should not be used by extremist armed groups. The conference closed with the signing of a ‘New Mardin Declaration’ that urged the faithful to uphold Islam’s moral and ethical values, condemned extreme radicals, and called on them to foster peace.

This post is part of the report, “Understanding the regional and transnational networks that facilitate IED use”. To see the sections of the report please go here. This research was undertaken with assistance from the NATO Counter-IED Centre of Excellence.

[i] Shiraz Maher, Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea, Hurst & Co, London 2016.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi was born in 1903 and was from Pakistan. He founded the Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami Islamic revivalist party. He was influenced by the Egyptian Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, he may have influenced al-Banna and he most certainly influenced al-Banna’s successor, Sayyid Qutb. He is famous for his writings and influence on Jihad.

[v] Hassan al-Banna – Hassan al-Banna was born October 14, 1906 and died February 12, 1949. Al Banna was a radical Islamist and founder of  the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (Jamaat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun).

[vi] Saayid Qutb was born in 1906 in Egypt and was known as a thinker and ideologue – he was a founding member of the Muslim Brotherhood which the classists would ascribe to. He is most famous for his works and understanding of Jihad, which many from Al-Qaeda, including Bin Laden have followed. See here for more background:


[viii] Maher, ”Salafi-Jihadism”, 209-210.

[ix] Ibid. 50-51.

[x] Shiraz Maher, Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea, Hurst & Co, London 2016.

[xi] Abu Muhammad al-Muhajir, Misa’a fi Fiqh al-Jihad (Issues in the Jurisprudence of Jihad).

[xii] Interview with Charlie Winter, 22 July 2016.

[xiii] Hassan Abu Hanieh, Mohammad Abu Rumman, The Islamic State Organisation: The Sunni Crisis and the Struggle of Global Jihadism.

[xiv] Shiraz Maher, Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea, Hurst & Co, London 2016.

[xv] Kharijite, or Khawarij, relates to the group of early Muslims who rebelled against the various caliphates. It comes from the Arabic word Kharaja, which means ‘to leave’, implying that the Kharijites left true Islam. The term has frequently been used against IS.

[xvi] Cole Bunzel, ”The Kingdom and the Caliphate: Duel of the the Islamic States, Carnegie Endowment, February 2016.

[xvii] Cole Bunzel, ”The Kingdom and the Caliphate: Duel of the the Islamic States, Carnegie Endowment, February 2016.

[xviii] Genevieve Abdo, Salafists and Sectarianism in the Middle East, Brookings 2016.