Islamic terrorism

Islamic terrorism (also known as Islamist terrorism or radical Islamic terrorism) refers to terrorist acts with religious motivations carried out by fundamentalist militant Islamists and Islamic extremists.[1][2][3]

The Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda carried out the September 11 attacks against the United States in 2001

Incidents and fatalities from Islamic terrorism have been concentrated in eight Muslim-majority countries (Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria),[4] while four Islamic extremist groups (Islamic State, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda) were responsible for 74% of all deaths from terrorism in 2015.[5][6] The annual number of fatalities from terrorist attacks grew sharply from 2011 to 2014 when it reached a peak of 33,438, before declining to 13,826 in 2019.[7]

Since at least the 1990s, these terrorist incidents have occurred on a global scale, affecting not only Muslim-majority countries in Africa and Asia, but also Russia, Australia, Canada, Israel, India, the United States, China, Philippines, Thailand and countries within Europe.[Note 1] Such attacks have targeted both Muslims and non-Muslims,[9] with one study finding 80% of terrorist victims to be Muslims.[10][11] In a number of the worst-affected Muslim-majority regions, these terrorists have been met by armed, independent resistance groups,[12] state actors and their proxies, and elsewhere by condemnation by prominent Islamic figures.[13][14][15] Journalists have also become targets of Islamic terrorism, particularly for the depiction of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, with the Charlie Hebdo shooting being protested by millions in France.

Justifications given for attacks on civilians by Islamic extremist groups come from their interpretations of the Quran,[3] the hadith,[16][17] and sharia law.[3] These include retribution by armed jihad for the perceived injustices of unbelievers against Muslims;[18] the belief that the killing of many self-proclaimed Muslims is required because they have violated Islamic law and are disbelievers (takfir);[19] the overriding necessity of restoring and purifying Islam by establishing sharia law, especially by restoring the Caliphate as a pan-Islamic state (especially ISIS);[20] the glory and heavenly rewards of martyrdom;[17] the supremacy of Islam over all other religions.[Note 2]

The use of the phrase "Islamic terrorism" is disputed. In Western political speech, it has variously been called "counter-productive", "highly politicized, intellectually contestable" and "damaging to community relations", by those who disapprove of the characterization 'Islamic'.[23][24][25] Others have condemned the avoidance of the term as an act of "self-deception", "full-blown censorship" and "intellectual dishonesty".[26][27]


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