A Narrative of Heroes: In the Head of the Contemporary Jihadist

Michael Fredholm: South and Central Asian Studies, Stockholm University

A Narrative of Heroes: In the Head of the Contemporary Jihadist
The contemporary jihadist often lives in the West, perhaps as a second-generation immigrant or convert, or in another fairly secular environment such as post-Soviet Central Asia. He likely knows little or no Arabic, and is not an Islamic scholar. For him, religion and ideology are primarily used as an after-the-fact justification and legitimization for violent acts and could more accurately be referred to as the effect rather than cause of jihadism. For those who wish to take action, indignation over perceived injustice and the decision to engage in armed jihad often precede both ideological awareness and religious justification. Far more important is the narrative: a conviction that a worldwide struggle between good and evil, between justice and injustice, and between true Muslims and enemies of Islam is taking place. The world is hanging in the balance, and heroes are needed. Two conclusions can be drawn. First, it seems unlikely that young jihadists can be deradicalised through reli
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