ISIS, Al Qaeda and others: Some context of Islamic Terrorist groups

The Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaeda are fundamentally different from groups that existed decades ago. 40 years ago, groups similar, but fundamentally different to ISIS and Al Qaeda wanted to see an Islamization of society and government, but did not seek for the unification of the world, and the Islamic World under one caliphate. There were many fundamental differences between earlier groups and the current crop of terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda, and these differences mean that the tactics employed by ISIS and Al Qaeda would not work 40 years in the past.

Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood were extremely conservative Islamic organizations that lobbied for an increase in traditional Muslim values and fundamental Muslim beliefs. Starting at the Grassroots level, these groups appealed to their fellow citizens by guaranteeing basic services and providing aid to those in need. After meeting with some success at the grassroots level, the Muslim Brotherhood hoped to influence change on the national and regional level. If these reforms and changes were enacted in the political spectrum and successfully carried out, there was usually minimal violence (in places like Jordan), and if reforms were not carried out, there was usually terrorism, low level insurgency and other examples of violence (in places like Egypt).

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The Muslim Brotherhood is a highly controversial group. Some argue it is just a peaceful Muslim organization, others that is the precursor and progenitor of all modern day Islamic Terrorism.

Other groups, like Hezbollah and the National Congress Party (Sudan) work within an existing political system (like the Muslim Brotherhood) while maintaining a separate armed wing and military faction to back up their beliefs and views. These groups have a very clear distinction between their violent sections (armed wings) and the political lobbying and goals they have. There is not as large a need to work on the grassroots level like the Muslim Brotherhood because they already have armed, violent actors on their behalf and while they want to work within politics, there is always the threat of armed force to back up their words.

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Researching and understanding Hezbollah is an extremely difficult task. They are a very complicated group due to Iranian influence, Shia/Sunni relations and nationalist tensions within the Lebanese/Jordan/Syrian area.

ISIS and Al Qaeda while somewhat similar to all of these groups, are still fundamentally different from them. The Muslim Brotherhood worked at a grassroots level to establish support and hoped things would solve themselves after instilling traditional Muslim values in society. Other groups established an armed wing while working with Christian, African and other separate entities to secure political advantage. ISIS and Al Qaeda use violence first and focus on an Islamic Caliphate instead of working within existing political systems. In essence, there is no negotiation and the only true happiness will be when the world comes to heel under the ISIS and Al Qaeda boot. ISIS and Al Qaeda want to establish political Islam first, and then establish a state. The earlier groups wanted to establish political Islam within an existing state.

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