The Rise of Militant Islamic Extremism


Until the 1990s, terrorism was not a global security issue and was only considered as an insecurity concern for a few unstable developing nations. However, after the year 2000, the world has seen the rise of militant Islamic extremism who perpetrate terror attacks on many countries around the globe, regardless of their political or economic power; the United States of America, Germany, France, Belgium, Italy, to name but a few, are some of the powerful nations who have been victims of terrorist attacks in recent years (Cordesman, 2017). The rise and prevalence of militant Islamist extremism can have a political, religious, cultural, or economic explanation. However, the most suitable explanation for the existence of Islamic extremism is the political approach which states that the prevalence is mostly attributed to the political instability of countries where militia groups fight for power and control of the nation from government oppression, discrimination, and external interference.

Overview of Terrorism

Islamic extremism is on the rise in the current century, and the youth are the common targets as recruits; this can basically be attributed to their lack of in-depth understanding of the origin of terrorism and its real cause. The economic explanation for the existence of radicalization states that the extremism is necessitated by the need by a minority group to fight for their economic right over natural resources such as oil and minerals. These extremist groups tell the youth during the recruitment processes that they are fighting for a better future and a country where the next generation will have adequate resources to sustain them without external interference. Al Qaeda, for example, during its recruitment processes targets unemployed youth who are desperate for sustainability and willing to do any work to help their families (Cordesman, 2017). The religious explanation narrates how the radicalization is rampant in Islamic states and the victims targeted are mainly people who are non-Muslims. The cultural definition of the Islamic extremist talks about the rise of militia from minority groups who feel discriminated and unfairly targeted by majority groups in countries.

The Quest for Political Dominance by Extremist Groups

The pursuit for power and control over a region has led to several wars among nations since the 18th century. In recent times, political instabilities in a majority of the Islamic nations have seen the rise of terror groups which claim to be fighting for the freedom and independence of their cultural group. These extremist groups do not fight their wars using the conventional styles of warfare; they believe in a different mechanism of war which entails suicide bombing and destabilization of the "enemy's" control through anarchy and consistent deaths. Militant extremists do not engage their opponents in any method of peaceful negotiations and compromise. These groups believe that the only way to earn international respect and recognition is through terror attacks on their opponents and their allies.

Realists and Political Oppression

Realists attribute militant Islamic extremism to political oppression and instability. The realist school of thought states that terrorism is usually an initiative of a non-state movement or community which violently attacks the government and civilians in a bid to have political control and power over a region (Heywood, 2014). There are usually no justifiable reasons for the extremisms and these groups cite non-issues as their drive for their war against other people and nations. Usually, these movements do not use the conventional fighting techniques like air-fights and ground battles; they prefer radicalization and suicide bombing; through the extremism, these movements have a huge following of unknowing youth who are desperate for employment and recognition (Heywood, 2014). Similarly, these groups target innocent civilians who are too weak to engage in the fights. As a result, the governments lose stability and favor from their citizens who are made to believe that their alternative source of security is the terror movement. Civil disorder and victimization are the primary objectives of terrorist groups. Realist activists, therefore, call for the fierce fight against terrorism by the world, without giving them any space for negotiations or surrender. The notion under this reasoning is that terrorists are dangerous people who have the power to incite a huge population using their radicalization mechanism.

Global Impact of ISIS

ISIS is an international terror group which is attributed to almost 60% of the recent terrorist attacks around the world (Shaffer, 2016). This militia group was started by the Sunni minority group in Iraq which was facing oppression and persecution from a Shiite- dominated government in the country. The main concern by the Sunni community was that their people were receiving unfair treatment from the government for the mistakes of their former leader, Saddam Hussein. ISIS controls a huge population in Iraq and Syria; the movement announced itself as an Islamic state in 2006 after forcefully taking over the City of Mosul in Iraq (Shaffer, 2016).

The Influence of Boko Haram

The Boko Haram terrorist group in Africa also controls a huge section of the western and central African region. This Islamic extremist movement claims to be associated with the Al Qaeda group and says that it is fighting for the Islamic revolution in the world (Onuoha, 2012). However, the group's main aim was to take control of the nations in West and Central Africa. The movement terrorizes civilians by bombing churches, hotels, and kidnapping people (Onuoha, 2012). Political instability and civilian unrest are major strengths of terrorist groups.

Victims of Extremist Attacks

Innocent civilians form a large portion of the victims of terrorist attacks and bombings. The radicalization process usually targets the local people in the Islamic states who are sent to detonate suicide bombs on the opponent's regions. Many young men are recruited to join the extremist movements with the promise of a lot of money and protection for their families. It is also vital to note that the injuries, deaths, and kidnappings victims are majorly civilians in Islamic countries. A report showed that there were 43 times more deaths of citizens in Islamic nations than in Europe nations (Cordesman 2017). Therefore, the victims of extremist attacks are majorly Muslims in the countries where these terror groups originate from and spread their war.


The war by extremist Islamic movements is an international crisis with the increase in the number of new groups being formed every day. The misconception that terrorism is a religious war is wrong because it only leads to more radicalization of innocent Islamic youth. Politics and power are the main elements which influence Islamic extremism around the world. These terror movements are hungry for power and political control of their regions, and they are using civil instability and violence to weaken the established governments. The whole world should unite against this harmful and inciting militant extremism which will soon disrupt the peace of the globe if left to thrive under the pretense of a peaceful religious war.


Cordesman, A. (2017). Islam and the patterns in terrorism and violent extremism. Center for

Strategic and International Studies. Retrieved from

Heywood, A. (2014). Global Politics. London, LDN: Macmillan International Higher Education.

Onuoha, F. C. (2012). Boko Haram: Nigeria’s Extremist Islamic Sect. Al Jazeera Centre for

            Studies, 29(2), 1-6.

Shaffer, R. (2016). Jihad and Counter-Jihad in Europe: Islamic Radicals, Right-Wing Extremists,

 and Counter-Terrorism Responses. Terrorism and Political Violence, 28(2), 383-394.

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