Salafist jihadism (Arabic: السلفية الجهادية) is a jihadist movement among Salafi Muslims. The term was coined by scholar Gilles Kepel to describe Salafi who became interested in violent jihad during the mid-1990s. Practitioners are often referred to as Salafi jihadis or Salafi jihadists.
Whereas "Salafists originally are supposedly not violent," and the Salafis whom Gilles Kepel encountered in
in the 1980s were "totally apolitical", by the mid 1990s he met some
who felt jihad in the form of "violence and terrorism were justified to
realize their political objectives". The combination of Salafi alienation
from all things non-Muslim—including "mainstream European society"—and
violent jihad created a "volatile mixture"."When you're in the
state of such alienation you become easy prey to the jihadi guys who will feed
you more savory propaganda than the old propaganda of the Salafists who tell
you to pray, fast and who are not taking action."
According to Kepel, Salafist jihadism combined "respect for the sacred texts in their most literal form, ... with an absolute commitment to jihad, whose number-one target had to be
perceived as the greatest enemy of the faith." America
Salafist jihadists distinguished themselves from salafis they called "sheikist", so named because they had (according to the jihadists) forsaken adoration of God for adoration of "the oil sheiks of the
Arabian peninsula, with the Al Saud family at their
head". The theorist was Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz"the
archetypal court ulema [ulama al-balat]". These "false" salalfi
"had to be striven against and eliminated," but even more dangerous
was the Muslim Brotherhood, who were believed by Salafi
Jihadists to be excessively moderate and lacking in literal interpretation of
Another definition of Salafi jihadism, offered by Mohammed M. Hafez, is an "extreme form of SunniIslamism that rejects democracy and Shia rule." Hafez distinguished them not only with apolitical and conservative Salafi scholars (such as Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani, Muhammad ibn al Uthaymeen,Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz and Abdul-Azeez ibn Abdullaah Aal ash-Shaikh), but from thesahwa movement associated with Salman al-Ouda or Safar Al-Hawali.
According to Mohammed M. Hafez, contemporary jihadi Salafism is characterized by "five features" immense emphasis on the concept of tawhid (unity of God); God's sovereignty (hakimiyyat Allah) which defines right and wrong, good and evil, and which supersedes human reasoning is applicable in all places on earth and at all times, and makes unnecessary and unIslamic other ideologies such as liberalism or humanism;
the rejection of all innovation (Bid‘ah) to Islam; the permissibility and necessity of takfir (the declaring of a Muslim to be outside the creed, so that they must either repent or face execution); and on the centrality of jihad against infidel regimes.
Antecedents of Salafism jihadism include Islamist author Sayyid Qutb, who developed the idea that the Islamic world has been replaced by pagan ignorance of Jahiliyyah, and the group Takfir wal-Hijra, who kidnapped and murdered an Egyptian ex-government minister in 1978.
Journalist Bruce Livesey estimates Salafi jihadists constitute less than 1 percent of the world's 1.9 billion Muslims (c. 10 million).
Leaders, groups and activities
Its leaders included Afghan jihad veterans such as the Palestinian Abu Qatada, the Syrian Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, the Egyptian Mustapha Kamel, known as Abu Hamza al-Masri and later Osama bin Laden. The dissident Saudi preachers Salman al-Ouda and Safar Al-Hawali, were held in high esteem by this school.
Murad Al-shishani of the The Jamestown Foundation states there have been three generations of Salafi-jihadists: those waging jihad in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Iraq. As of the mid-2000s, Arab fighters in
were "the latest and most important development of the global
Salafi-jihadi movement". These
fighters were usually not Iraqis, but volunteers who had come to Iraq
from other countries, mainlySaudi Arabia. Unlike in earlier Salafi jihadi actions
"a significant constituency of Egyptians" was not among the volunteers. According
to Bruce Livesey Salafist jihadists are currently a "burgeoning presence
in Iraq Europe, having attempted more than 30 terrorist
attacks among E.U.
countries" from September 2001 to the beginning of 2005".
According to Mohammed M. Hafez, in
jihadi salafi are pursuing a "system-collapse stategy" whose goal is
to install an "Islamic emirate based on Sunni dominance,
similar to the Taliban regime in Iraq ."
In addition to occupation/coalition personnel they target mainly Iraqi security
forces and Shia civilians,
but also "foreign journalists, translators and transport drivers and the
economic and physical infrastructure of Afghanistan . Iran
In 2011, Salafi jihadists were actively involved with protests against King Abdullah II of Jordan and the kidnapping followed by a swift murder of Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni in Hamas-controlledGaza Strip.
Salafist jihadists groups include Al Qaeda, the now defunct Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and prior to 2009, Kashmir-based Lashkar-e-Taiba. According to Mohammed M. Hafez, "as of 2006 the two major groups within the jihadi Salafi camp" in
were the Mujahidin Shura Council and the Ansar al Sunna Group. There
are also a number of small jihadist Salafist groups in Azerbaijan. Jund
Ansar Allah is, or was, an armed Salafist jihadist organization in
Strip. On August 14, 2009, the group's spiritual leader, Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa, announced during Friday
sermon the establishment of an Islamic emirate in the Palestinian territories
attacking the ruling authority, the Islamist group Hamas, for failing to
enforce Sharia law.
Hamas forces responded to his sermon by surrounding his Ibn Taymiyya mosque
complex and attacking it. In the fighting that ensued, 24 people (including
Sheikh Abdel Latif Moussa himself), were killed and over 130 were wounded. Iraq