After IS?

After IS?
The Islamic State group is merely the latest generation of the jihadi movement, and the world should prepare for the next.
4 min read
30 Sep, 2014
A new generation of revenge seekers will surface [Anadolu/Getty].

The current campaign against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS) will succeed. Soon we will see pictures in the media of IS leaders and its members who have been killed or imprisoned. However, while leaders east and west toast their victory against the monster, another radical and rebellious seed will be being planted among those listening to the F16 jets, and watching the Tomahawks’ fire light up the Syrian skies. It will probably take a few years but a new generation of revenge-seekers will surface - even more savage and barbaric - and history will repeat itself.


On 29 August 1966, Sayyed Qutb, author of In the Shade of the Quran and Milestones was executed after being convicted of plotting to assassinate Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Ayman al Zawahiri, a boy of barely 15 years, watched him die. Zawahiri had heard about Qutb’s resolve and sacrifices, and staged a demonstration with some other boys against his execution. They were arrested and held for days, but released because of their tender age. After only a few years many young people began implementing Qutb’s ideas. This gave rise to the Shukri Mustafa group, which established the Al Muslimin [“The Muslims"] or Al Takfir wal Hijrah [“Excommunication and Emigration"] group, inspired by Qutb’s ideas such as jahiliyyah [“ignorance of divine guidance”], hakimiyyah [“God's sovereignty”], and the alienated self.


     Zawahiri had heard about Qutb’s resolve, and staged a demonstration with some other boys against his execution.

There was also a group led by Salih Sariya that carried out the 1974 attack on the Military Technical College in Cairo. Sariya’s followers stormed the college hoping to kill President Anwar El Sadat and announce the birth of the Islamic Republic of Egypt. This was followed by the spread of violence, takfir [Muslims accusing one another of being an infidel], and a growth in armed jihad groups throughout the 1970s and 1980s.


In 1986, Zawahiri met Osama Bin Laden in Jeddah. Two years later they formed the International Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders, which became known as Al Qaeda and carried out the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States. Two years later, US forces invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein on the pretext he was working with Al Qaeda and manufacturing nuclear weapons. Iraq became a new focal point for jihadists, especially those who had fought in Afghanistan in the early 1990s.


At that time, a young Jordanian man named Abu-Mus'ab al Zarqawi, who was born two months after Qutb’s execution, went to Iraq and formed the Al Tawhid wal Jihad [“Monotheism and Jihad"] group. This became known as Al Qaeda in Iraq, after Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Bin Laden in 2004. When Zarqawi was assassinated in 2006, Abu-Hamzah al-Muhajir took over, and after he was killed in 2010, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi became leader. After the Syrian revolution had been raging for some time, Baghdadi changed the group’s name in April 2013 to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known by its Arabic acronym Daish. “The Levant” in this case has elsewhere been translated as “Shams”, a reference to the ancient area of “Greater Syria”, which now includes Lebanon, which in turn led to the acronym “ISIS”. In June this, Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of the Islamic State, or Caliphate, and designated himself caliph. IS now controls large areas of land in Iraq and Syria, and an international coalition is currently being mobilised to fight it.


     In 1986, Zawahiri met Osama Bin Laden in Jeddah. Two years later they formed... Al Qaeda

How does this brief account of the history of the jihadist movement relate to the title of this article? Monitoring the history and development of these trends reveals three points: First, the link between political repression and the emergence of radical ideologies has become self-evident. It is not surprising that thousands of young Arabs support the fictitious caliphate and have joined IS to escape authoritarian regimes. Secondly, there is a strong connection between foreign military intervention and the brutality of jihadi movements. IS’ brutal treatment of its victims is considered a form of revenge against the US’ invasion of Iraq in 2003. Thirdly, jihadi ideology has deteriorated over time, with some mockingly describing Al Qaeda as “more moderate” than IS.


At a time when coalition planes are pounding IS strongholds and boasting of their inevitable victory, we should be prepared for the situation to deteriorate even further. We should not be surprised if a new generation of “radicals” emerges more savage and barbaric than IS, whose members may already be watching events in Syria and Iraq and preparing themselves for the post-IS era.


This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Al Araby Al Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.