"Non-Violent" Islam: Half of Prominent
Half of the prominent jihadists profiled in a
newÂ studyÂ by The Centre on Religion & Geopolitics had ties to
supposedly non-violent Islamists prior to joining terrorist
The study's authors â€“ Mubaraz Ahmed, Milo Comerford, and Emman
El-Badawy â€“ explore pathways to militancy among 100 prominent figures
within the wider Salafi-Jihadi movement. The individuals examined
derive from the Middle East and Africa, across multiple generations.
Some of the findings suggest that membership or ties to non-violent
Islamist organizations can be associated with an individual's
trajectory towards violence and terrorism.
51 percent of the terrorists under study were previously connected
to Islamist groups that claim to be non-violent, including "bodies
that are not necessarily political activist organizations but form a
functioning arm of existing Islamist groups, such as youth wings,
student associations, and other societies." Since membership in
Islamist groups is often secretive and sometimes prohibited in various
Middle Eastern countries, the authors acknowledge that the proportion
of jihadists with Islamist affiliations are likely higher.
Some of the case studies explored in the report include Djamel
Zitouni, the leader of the Armed Islamic Group who was previously a
member of an Islamist organization that supposedly eschewed violence â€“
the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). Senior Al-Qaeda leaders, including
Abdullah Azzam and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, were involved with or direct
members of the Muslim Brotherhood before turning to violent jihad.
One in four of the jihadists examined had ties to the Muslim
Brotherhood or its affiliated groups.
Another interesting finding shows that 65 percent of the sample had
been imprisoned at some point throughout their lives, some of whom
served time before engaging in violent jihad. There has been growing
concern for years about Islamist radicalization of potentialÂ terrorist
recruits in prisonsÂ worldwide.
The study shows that personal networks are critical in the
formation and development of the global Salafi-jihadi movement.
"Our data links the leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS today to
the forefathers of the movement through people they met in prison, at
university, and on the battlefield," write the authors.
Purportedly non-violent Islamist groups not only serve as potential
incubators for radicalization and violence â€“ they also continue to
engage inÂ violent incitement, encouraging others to carry out
For example, on Wednesday, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member, 'Izz
Al-Din Dwedar, called for an "intifada" targeting Egyptian embassies
around the world, in a Facebook postÂ translatedby The Middle East
Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
In protest of death sentences handed to members of the Brotherhood
in Egypt, Dwedar suggested for violent action on May 3.
Egyptians abroad should "protest [outside] Egyptian embassies and
lay siege to them, and steadily escalate [their actions], up to and
including raiding the embassies in some countries, disrupting their
work and occupying them if possible, in order to raises awareness to
our cause," wrote Dwedar.