Studies in ‘jihadism’

More than six years after 9/11, the study of jihadism is still in its infancy. Why has it taken so long to develop? One reason, of course, is that we started almost from scratch. Another factor is that it takes time for primary sources to emerge. But the most important reason is no doubt that the emotional outrage at al-Qaeda’s violence has prevented us from seeing clearly. Societies touched by terrorism are always the least well placed to understand their enemies. It is only when we see the jihadists not as agents of evil or as religious fanatics, but as humans, that we stand a chance of understanding them.

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