As Islamic terrorisms and jihadist ravage nations, even the Hindus are not left out. Islamic terrorism (also Islamist terrorism or radical Islamic terrorism) refers to terrorist acts with religious motivations carried out by fundamentalist militant Islamists and Islamic extremists.

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

Incidents and fatalities from Islamic terrorism have been concentrated in eight Muslim-majority countries (Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria), 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.

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. Such attacks have targeted both Muslims and non-Muslims, with one study finding 80% of terrorist victims to be Muslims. In a number of the worst-affected Muslim-majority regions, these terrorists have been met by armed, independent resistance groups, state actors and their proxies, and elsewhere by condemnation by prominent Islamic figures.

If one examines a wide range of sources, however, a number of key patterns emerge that make five things very clear:

  • First, the overwhelming majority of extremist and violent terrorist incidents do occur in largely Muslim states.
  • Second, most of these incidents are perpetrated by a small minority of Muslims seeking power primarily in their own areas of operation and whose primary victims are fellow Muslims.
  • Third, almost all of the governments of the countries involved are actively fighting extremism and terrorism, and most are allies of Western states that work closely with the security, military, and counterterrorism forces of non-Muslim states to fight extremism and terrorism.
  • Fourth, the vast majority of Muslims oppose violent extremism and terrorism, and,
  • Fifth, religion is only one of many factors that lead to instability and violence in largely Muslim states. It is a critical ideological force in shaping the current patterns of extremism, but it does not represent the core values of Islam and many other far more material factors help lead to the rise of extremism.

The analysis draws on a wide range of sources to illustrate these trends and how the global patterns in terrorism and violence interact with Islam. It cannot overcome the lack of consistent and reliable data in many key areas, or the fact that many key factors do not lend themselves to summary quantification and trend analysis. It is also impossible to go into depth in analyzing the individual the trends in Islam and extremism in a broad overview of global trends, or to highlight all of the limits in the quality and reliability of the data available.

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