Salafi jihadism or jihadist-Salafism is a transnational, hybrid religious-political ideology based on the Sunni sect of Islamism, seeking to establish a global caliphate, characterized by the advocacy for "physical" (military) jihadist and Salafist concepts of returning to what adherents believe to be the "true Islam". The ideological foundation of the movement was laid out by a series of prison-writings of the Egyptian Sunni Islamist theoretician Sayyid Qutb during the 1960s.
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The interchangeable terms "Salafi jihadism" and "jihadist-Salafism" were coined by the French political scientist Gilles Kepel in 2002 to describe "a hybrid Islamist ideology" developed by international Islamist volunteers in the Soviet-Afghan War who had become isolated from their national and social class origins. The concept was described by the American-Israeli scholar Martin Kramer as an academic term that "will inevitably be [simplified to] jihadism or the jihadist movement in popular usage." Qutbism has been identified as a close relative Islamist ideology, or a variety of Salafi jihadism.
Practitioners are referred to as "Salafi-jihadi", "Salafist jihadis", or "Salafi jihadists". They are sometimes described as a variety of Salafis, and sometimes as separate from "good Salafis", whose movement eschews any political involvement and organizational allegiances as potentially divisive for the whole Muslim community and a distraction from the study of the Islamic religion. Quietist Salafi scholarship denounce Salafi jihadism as a heterodox ideology far-removed from Salafi orthodoxy. Quietist Salafi scholars such as Albani, Ibn Uthaymeen, Ibn Baz, Saleh Al-Fawzan, and Muqbil ibn Hadi condemned rebellion against the rulers as "the most corrupt of innovations", and forbade Muslims "to take it upon himself to execute a ruling" which is under the jurisdiction of the rulers. Salafi jihadists contend that they are not dividing the Muslim community because, in their view, the rulers of Muslim-majority countries and other self-proclaimed Muslims they attack have deviated from Islam and are actually apostates or false Muslims.
In the 1990s, extremist jihadists of the al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya were active in the terrorist attacks on police, government officials, and tourists in Egypt, and the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria was a principal extremist group in the Algerian Civil War. The most infamous jihadist-Salafist terrorist action is considered to be the September 11 attacks against the United States perpetrated by al-Qaeda in 2001. While Salafism had next-to-no presence in Europe in the 1980s, Salafi jihadists had by the mid-2000s acquired "a burgeoning presence in Europe, having attempted more than 30 terrorist attacks among E.U. countries since 2001." While many see the influence and activities of Salafi jihadists as in decline after 2000 (at least in the United States), others see the movement as growing in the wake of the Arab Spring, the breakdown of state control in Libya and Syria in 2014, and the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan in 2021.