Jihadism May Be Waning, but New Forms of Violent Extremism Are Emerging

Jihadism May Be Waning, but New Forms of Violent Extremism Are Emerging
Members of a SWAT team keep an eye on demonstrators marking the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12, 2018 (AP photo by Steve Helber).

Since 9/11, any mention of violent extremism usually referred to Salafi jihadism and the likes of al-Qaida and, more recently, the self-styled Islamic State. While not the only type of extremism plaguing the world, the sociopathic brutality and morbid self-publicity of these jihadist groups put them in the spotlight. There had never been anything like them, or so it seemed. In the minds of many people, al-Qaida and its offshoots were the paradigm of violent extremism.

Jihadism is far from defeated today, even if the Islamic State has been rolled back in Syria and Iraq. From Boko Haram in Nigeria to the Taliban in Afghanistan, jihadist groups continue to draw recruits and find new ways to kill. But jihadism’s ability to intimidate its enemies is waning. As an extremist movement, it will persist for many years, but only as a spent force fading away.

Unfortunately, though, this demise will not usher in peace. With ever-growing global connectivity that amplifies anger and links the angry, and tools of violence that are readily available, new forms of violent extremism will emerge. In fact, they are already emerging.

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