Prophet Mohammed founded the Islamic religion in the 7th century (Council on Foreign Relations, n.d.). The doctrine split in 632 after his death. Although Shi’ites and Sunnis share common religious beliefs, they differ on Mohammed’s successor. Sunnis believe that the person who would have replaced Mohammed should come from the first four caliphs. In that case, Abu Bakr would be the leader. On the contrary, Shi'ites believe that the leadership of the religion should remain in Mohammed's family. As such, Ali bin Abu Talib, the son-in-law, and cousin of the deceased should be the successor (Council on Foreign Relations, n.d.). The split in Islamic religion has contributed to the war on terrorism and war in Iraq. In most cases, Sunnis and Shi'ites engage in extremism and the war in Iraq to fight against each other over the leadership of Islam. They are responsible for the conflicts in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. The Iraq war will come to an end when Sunnis and Shi'ites agree on who will take over Mohammed' position since this is the primary point of contestation. Nevertheless, terrorism and conflicts in Iraq are significantly attributed to the differences between Shi’ites and Sunnis.
The three individuals who established the militant philosophy in Islam are Muhammad Qutb, Ayman Zawahiri, and Anwar al-Awlaki. The above contributed to the introduction of Islamic jihad and Al-Qaeda which supported Osama bin Laden in his terrorist acts. Qutb, al-Awlaki, and Zawahiri influenced Osama’s role in extremism by providing him with resources and hiding him when he was being sought by the United States of America (USA). In other words, they sided with Osama bin Laden since they believed that his actions were for the betterment of the Islamic religion. Qutb promoted, edited, and published his brother’s work, Sayyid Qutb, after he was convicted for plotting Gamal Abdel Nasser’s assassination (Ancient Civilizations, n.d.). Zawahiri was a member of the Islamic jihad who mentored Osama bin Laden. Al-Awlaki joined Al-Qaeda while in prison after reading Qutb’s work. Qutb was the significant contributor of Islamic jihadists since he influenced the formation of Al-Qaeda through his writing. Furthermore, he believed that Islam could fight back against barbarism through terrorism.
Ancient Civilizations (n.d.). Muhammad and the faith of Islam. Retrieved from http://www.ushistory.org/civ/4i.asp
Council on Foreign Relations (n.d.). The Sunni-Shia divide. Retrieved from https://www.cfr.org/interactives/sunni-shia-divide#!/sunni-shia-divide