Islamist Terrorism from the Muslim brotherhood to Hamas

Authored by: David Cook

The Routledge History of Terrorism

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415535779
eBook ISBN: 9781315719061
Adobe ISBN: 9781317514879


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This chapter will discuss Islamist terrorism in its more mainstream variety associated with the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin) and its offshoots as well as the various Lebanese Shi‘ite radical groups associated with Hizbullah by tracing the principal political Islamist organizations and their use of political violence and terror from the 1930s until the first decade of the 2000s in the region of Egypt and the Levant. Although these various groups are disparate in their origins and span the doctrinal divide that exists between Sunnism and Shi‘ism, they share a common commitment to the mainstream political process that is not shared by salafi-jihadis. All of the groups descended from the Muslim Brotherhood, not to speak of Hizbullah, have been accepted in some way by the broader Muslim society – either into government or as legitimate resistance movements – and in some cases eventually as part of the religious establishment. Although some of the radicalized groups (in Egypt primarily) that descended from the Muslim Brotherhood during the 1970s and 1980s fought their government (an action which did not command broad support), the ideologues of these offshoots, such as Sayyid Qutb, were frequently accepted by the mainstream and even venerated. Similarly, the position of Hizbullah, as a radical Shi‘ite organization in a mostly Sunni Arab world, has been ambiguous but always bolstered by the perception that it was primarily a resistance movement against Israel, as well as by the judicious moderation (towards other Muslims) of its leader Hassan Nasrullah.

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