From dawa to jihad
This paper provides insight into the conceptual foundation of the AIVD's study of radical Islam. It also seeks to contribute to the debate in society on countering the threats that may emanate from radical Islam. It starts from the premise that radical Islam is a multiform phenomenon. This paper does not discuss manifest or anticipated specific threats emanating from the various forms of radical Islam. It should rather be read as a conceptual contribution to the broad approach to studying radical Islam and the debate on countermeasures.
The attacks of 11 September 2001 marked a turning point in international political relations, the consequences of which have become apparent. For politicians and public opinion in the West the attack on the United States was a serious setback or even meant the end of the pursued pax occidentalis (i.e. the realisation of stability and peace initiated from the democratic Western world, which, after the collapse of the Eastern bloc, seemed to have a good chance of being successful). Western societies are currently faced with an international threat from various radical Islamic quarters. Europe, including the Netherlands, has been confronted with extreme violence, such as the attacks in Madrid in March 2004 and the murder of film director Theo van Gogh by an Islamic radical in November 2004. Recruitment for the armed radical Islamic struggle (Jihad) among Dutch youth, in particular ethnic minorities, has proved to be a trend rather than just an incident in the Netherlands. This has prompted the government to put also the unsuccessful integration of certain minorities and the radicalisation tendencies among them on the political agenda. The murder of Van Gogh only demonstrated how opportune this was. In brief, the turning point in the international political arena is clearly reflected on the situation in the Netherlands.
The 11 September 2001 attacks and their aftermath were 'only' catalysts for the global breakthrough of a terrorist threat from radical Islam and the ensuing crumbling of the pax occidentalis. The underlying phenomena, such as the rise of radical Islam and international terrorism, had manifested themselves in various parts of the world for several decades. Initially, these phenomena manifested themselves in polarisation on a national level, but later they grew into international movements that gained a foothold in practically all parts of the world. The spread of radical Islam and related terrorism, like the dissemination of Western ideas worldwide, is the expression of a trend towards globalisation that has been developing on for quite some time. Tensions between Western and non-Western actors and interests as such are not new. It is the scale on which these tensions manifest themselves and their impact, which increasingly set the scene. Many conflicts in different parts of the world have their own history, dynamics and solutions. Blowing these up to global proportions makes it seem as if they are all part of one major conflict. All the same, however, we are indeed witnessing global connections in radical Islam. The challenge is to properly understand these connections in all their complexity and to develop adequate countermeasures. Studying the various threats emanating from radical Islam, including the terrorist threat, should do justice to the complexity of these phenomena with all their national and international aspects. For this reason, the AIVD is now applying a broad approach in its study of radical Islam in the Netherlands, looking at phenomena such as poor integration, radicalisation, recruitment and terrorism from a wider perspective. Terrorism is the ultimate consequence of a development starting with radicalisation processes. These processes may manifest themselves in various ways and involve also other than terrorist threats (for example, interethnic tensions). For the AIVD combating terrorism starts by countering radicalisation processes. Preventing, isolating or curbing radicalisation are important means to combat terrorism with a long-lasting effect. Simultaneously, traditional investigations into terrorist organisations and networks are continued unabatedly. But traditional counter-terrorism without a focus on radicalisation processes and prevention will prove to be less effective in the long run. In addition, the AIVD emphasises the importance of enhancing society's resistance capability and of the vital role of the Muslim minorities in this context. As concerns the threats emanating from radical Islam and radical Islam-related terrorism, we should firstly focus on the protection of the Dutch society and its vital infrastructure, and secondly on strengthening the relevant communities in the Netherlands, including Muslim communities.
Before we can decide which measures to take, we should first thoroughly analyse the problem. At the moment, more than three years after the 11 September 2001 attacks, the worldwide debate on how to fight radical Islamic terrorism effectively is still going on. There is still no international public consensus on how the situation should be assessed. Is it a conflict between civilisations? Or are socio-economic aspects of the breeding ground for radicalisation decisive for the international threat from terrorism? The strength of all-encompassing explanations is at the same time their weakness: the wish for absolute clarity might easily slip into unrealistic over-simplification. This also applies to the popular misperception of the terrorist threat from Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network as a monolithic phenomenon. Thorough study has shown that we are now confronted with a threat from fluid networks with varying international links rather than a threat from traditional groups. The complexity of these phenomena prompts us to give up our usual perceptions and to translate the new approach into policy measures.
This paper provides insight into the conceptual foundation of the AIVD's study of radical Islam. It also seeks to contribute to the debate in society on countering the threats that may emanate from radical Islam. In this report radical Islam is understood to mean:
The politico-religious pursuit of establishing - if necessary by extreme means - a society which reflects the perceived values from the original sources of Islam as purely as possible.
This paper starts from the premise that radical Islam is a multiform phenomenon. Radical Islam consists of many movements and groups that, although related (in particular concerning faith and anti-Western sentiments), may harbour very different views on aims and means. This means that various kinds of threats can emanate from radical Islam, one of which is terrorism. In addition to radical Islamic organisations and networks which concentrate on the Jihad (in the sense of armed combat) against the West, there are other groups, which principally focus on 'Dawa' (the propagation of the radical-Islamic ideology), while some groups and networks combine both.
The Dawa-oriented forms of radical Islam are not necessarily violent by nature, but nevertheless they generate important security risks. Dawa is usually interpreted as 're-Islamisation' of Muslim minorities in the West. These minorities are seen as 'oppressed brothers' who should be liberated from the 'yoke of Western brainwashing'. The groups focusing on Dawa follow a long-term strategy of continuous influencing based on extreme puritanical, intolerant and anti-Western ideas. They want Muslims in the West to reject Western values and standards, propagating extreme isolation from Western society and often intolerance towards other groups in society. They also encourage these Muslims to (covertly) develop parallel structures in society and to take the law into their own hands. What they mean is that Muslims the West should turn their backs on the non-Islamic government and instead set up their own autonomous power structures based on specific interpretation of the Sharia.
This paper does not discuss manifest or anticipated specific threats emanating from the various forms of radical Islam. It should rather be read as a conceptual contribution to the broad approach to studying radical Islam and the debate on countermeasures. The AIVD therefore prefers to give general descriptions of the various types of radical Islam-related threats, starting from the premise that a good perception of these various types of threats is closely connected with a good insight into the interests to be protected. Translated into AIVD terms: without understanding the interest to be protected (in this case the democratic legal order) it is not possible to gain a good insight into the threat.
In chapter 1 we have therefore presented a detailed description of the democratic legal order. The essence is that our democratic legal order is not only a specific form of government (a democracy based on the rule of law), but also a certain form of society for the citizens. Hence certain forms of radical Islam that do not primarily pursue an Islamic form of government, but nevertheless reject societies based on democracy and the rule of law can also constitute a threat. They reject, for example, the open nature of our society, our respect for multiformity and diversity, or our personal autonomy in the area of ethics and ideology. Chapter 2 describes the major ideological and strategic views within radical Islam, followed by a description of the threats that may emanate from multiform radical Islam. Chapter 3 concerns itself with reinforcing the resistance capability of institutions and persons embodying the democratic legal order and interested parties in the democratic legal order.
This paper is composed according to the usual model of AIVD risk assessments, i.e. the threesome structure of interest-threat-resistance. Chapter 1 focuses on the interest to be protected (the democratic legal order), chapter 2 on the threat (the various threats to the democratic legal order posed by radical Islam) and chapter 3 on the resistance against this threat (the counterbalance from persons and institutions embodying the democratic legal order and interested parties).