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The Global Scourge: Jihad 2015

Déjà vu for Intelligence Training

History is a record of the continuity of life. From an intelligence perspective, various imbedded historic threads provide a context for analyzing current events. Cultures and human behaviors are not instantaneous developments but the products of decades, even centuries, of social evolution. Individuals who want to serve the nation in military intelligence jobs must understand the need for a solid grounding in history to complement a perspective on the factors in current events. The world is wracked with uncertainty while searching to find a strategy to deal with an Islamic extremist threat presenting global dimensions. Some analysts trace the current security problems back to the ten-year Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1989) and the emergence of a new jihadist force, al Qaeda. Al Qaeda brought a new religious focus to terrorism that superseded the nationalistic aspect of the 1965-1989 time periods. However, this narrow view of history does a disservice to those preparing for military intelligence jobs and entering intelligence training.
Every analysis requires a frame of reference which includes solid definitions of the essential elements of the problem. The current terrorist problem runs into trouble immediately as the analyst finds some 109 definitions of terrorism in government and academia, many of which are contradictory.1 There is even less agreement between various groups for the definition of jihad.2 Putting the theological views and national politics aside, history tells a basic story about Islam: early Islam was spread by the sword and violence.3 Contemporary extremist Islamic groups are using “modern swords” and violence to spread Islam and establish Caliphates based on an Islamic theocracy.

Define the Threat

The threat from Islamic extremism is not a monolithic religious movement, but a global problem that emanates from multiple sources. These various Islamic threats are in conflict with one another as well as all non-Muslims.4 Shiites are fighting Sunnis, and all the extremists oppose anyone who does not adhere to their rigid interpretation of Islam. A brief inventory of the disparate Islamic threats shows the complexity of the global security problem. The two leading Sunni extremist factions, al Qaeda and ISIS, find themselves in violent competition in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Local extremist factions shift alliances between al Qaeda and ISIS and sometimes fracture further as they strive to be the “true jihadist.” In Syria, ISIS and the al Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, fight each other as they both contest the Iranian backed Assad regime and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah. In Yemen, the Iranian-backed Houthi tribe fights the Saudi and US-backed Yemeni government and AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) forces. ISIS and the Taliban are in a nascent conflict in Afghanistan. Libya and the rest of North Africa present a chaotic mix of “iihadism” including the al Mourabitoun group, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansar Beit al Maqdis, Boko Haram and many smaller splinter groups that operate as Islamic terror groups in this region. South Asia, Central Asia, and East Asia also provide regional and national “iihadist” groups. While all these groups compete, there are two common characteristics shared by all the groups: each group seeks to establish Islam as the dominating religion and political force; each group is willing to use violence to achieve the group goals. The complexity and diversity of the regional and international threats from the Jihadist movement have challenged the US to create a unified policy and strategy against the continuing and growing Jihadist threat. Intelligence training should be based on objective needs; this training requires a policy and strategy context.

Education is a Weapon Against the Jihadist Threat

The Jihadist global threat creates a need for military intelligence jobs and more intelligence training. Online education provides a unique opportunity to meet these needs. Online schools that specialize in intelligence and counterterrorism provide a focus to meet the singular aspects for individuals seeking employment in the US national security establishment.


1. Martin, G. (2013). Understanding Terrorism, ISBN 978-1-4522-0582-3.
2. The concept of Jihad. (2014). Retrieved: www.whyislam.org
3. Early rise of Islam. (2009). BBC. Retrieved: www.bbc.co.uk
4. Jihadism in 2014. Stratfor. Retrieved: Electronic Stratfor Electronic newsletter 2/10/2015

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