Building a Strategy Against the Salafist Myth, un rapport de François Géré

François Géré, Building a Strategy Against the Salafist Myth, Gino Germani Institute for Social Sciences and Strategic Studies, Research Paper, April 2016.

The Origins of the Myth

Today the world has to cope with a powerful myth which is not a new one since it is roughly one century old. Since the foundation in 1928 of the Muslim brotherhood by Hassan Al-Bana Salafism has been rampant. Another Egyptian, Sayyid Qutb gave the first radical interpretation of Salafism during the Fifties. Jihad was grossly diverted from its original meaning, i.e. the spiritual effort of each single believer to conduct his life according to the Quran, a struggle with himself to become a better Muslim.

Now what do we intend by myth ? An ideological narrative which pretends to build a brand new future based on true and superior values. The myth offers a picture of the “golden age” of power and greatness of Islam under the Ummayad Caliphate, a political model of a decentralized state under a single authority. It aims for the general gathering of the community of believers. The jihadi fighters accept proudly to give their lives for the ultimate victory of the myth. The present violent Salafist myth carried by Daesh has a tradition encompassed in three different branches :

1) The Egyptian branch, dominated since 1980 by Ayman Al Zawahiri, is probably the most elaborate one, building on a long and rich tradition of theological and political thinking.

2) The second component comes from Palestine and Jordan. After the end of the war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Abdul Azzam, a respected intellectual, went in 1988 to Peshawar (Pakistan) and established the “base”, the home (Al-Qa’ida), and was subsequently murdered. Abu Mu’sab al- Zarkawi, born in 1964, killed in 2006 by an American strike, founder of Al-Qa’ida in Mesopotamia, belongs to a younger generation, poorly educated, who became religious in jail and inflicted extremely savage violence against Shiites in Iraq. Al-Baghdadi is the ultimate byproduct of that evolution.

3) Thirdly, the Yemeni branch, sometimes called “bedouin”, is a blend of Saudi Wahabbism and Salafi ideology, partly influenced by late Hassan Al-Turabi from Sudan (who supported and inspired Osama bin Laden) (...)

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