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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 8: Conclusion: on neojihadism – a new understanding of terrorism and extremism?

Towards a New Understanding of Terrorism and Extremism?

Pete Lentini


The previous chapters have provided overviews of The Movement, its origins, activities and composition, the theological and political bases of Movement thought on both global and local levels, an examination of the key principles established within jihadism, a discussion of the manner in which many politicians and pundits have labelled The Movement as a manifestation of Islamo-fascism and how scholars have identified it as a new form of totalitarianism, and the key components of fascism and totalitarianism. This book’s objectives include addressing a question of whether the labels that others have used to identify The Movement constitute what fulfil previously established continuity theses: that it is a contemporary form of jihadism, fascism or totalitarianism. Additionally, this book is also concerned with satisfying another criterion, namely, that if any or all of these labels are inappropriate, then it is necessary to identify an alternate term, which may more precisely characterize and categorize The Movement. As stated in the introduction, I proposed ‘neojihadism’ as a more appropriate term. This chapter commences with applying the heads, trunks and tusks of jihadism, fascism, totalitarianism and The Movement. Thereafter, it identifies neojihadism and its main attributes. Jihadism developed from a vague theory of political liberation (Qutb) that did not discount violence as a necessary means of liberation and transformation in Muslim-majority countries. However, initially it consti- tuted one of several options to initiate liberation and transitions to sharia-governed states.

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