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Towards a New Understanding of Terrorism and Extremism?

Pete Lentini

Many years after 9/11 we are still struggling to categorize groups like Al Qaeda, home-grown cells and others that claim to be perpetrating and justifying terrorist acts under the banner of jihad. This book introduces the concept of ‘neojihadism’ as a new form of political organization, grand narrative, global subculture, counterculture and theological understanding, with an approach to political violence that is unique to the post-Cold War period. What these groups espouse and enact differs radically from fascism, totalitarianism, cults, jihad – and even jihadism.
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Chapter 5: On The Movement’s local dimensions: the politics and theology of a Melbourne cell leader

Towards a New Understanding of Terrorism and Extremism?

Pete Lentini


That Movement leaders attempt to legitimate their political violence on theological bases is well established. However, there is currently little information about how the leaders of home-grown terrorist groups transmit theological teachings that underpin a jema’ah’s (group’s on cell’s) religio-political world view; how they encourage jema’ah members to comprehend their duties towards Allah, ummah and the jema’ah itself; and the manner in which they prepare them for conducting what they argue is religiously valid jihad and martyrdom. To develop a more enhanced understanding of these topics this chapter analyses the teachings of a leader of terrorist cells that Australian authorities disrupted in Melbourne and Sydney in November 2005. The bulk of this material concentrates on the leader’s teachings to the Melbourne jema’ah. The chapter addresses the following questions: how and what did the leader teach the jema’ah about jihad? How did he stress the importance of the jema’ah within the context of conducting jihad? How did he legitimate the locations where jihad can be conducted? Whom did he consider to be legitimate targets for violence, and under what circumstances? How did he teach the ways Muslims can achieve martyrdom, and what rewards, sacrifices and penalties in both the temporal world and in the afterlife await those who engage in jihad and seek martyrdom? This chapter has three main objectives. First, it attempts to complement Chapter 4 and develop a more enhanced understanding of The Movement, by providing examples of a terrorist cell’s activities on a local level.

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