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Europol Helps Define Islamist Terrorism

In March 2007, Europol published its first annual report on terrorism in the EU. The "EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report” is also known as TE-SAT. With respect to the subject matter of this blog, what useful information about supposedly "religiously motivated" terrorism can we find in the TE-SAT?

  • "Islamist terrorists aim at mass casualties."
  • The radicalization process of the suspects in European bomb plots was "reported to have been rapid."
  • The weapon of choice of "Islamist terrorists are Improvised Explosive Devices made with home-made explosives."
  • "Half of all terrorism arrests were related to Islamist terrorism."
  • "France, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands had the highest number of arrests of Islamist terrorist suspects."
  • There were cases in the UK and Denmark involving converts to Islam.
  • "The majority of the arrested suspects were born in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia.

The Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, in an article on the TE-SAT, points out that Europol has reported that the "increase in homegrown terrorists is partly the result of an increase in quantity and a "new quality" in jihadi propaganda in Europe."  What we might find the most interesting about the TE-SAT is the persistent use of the term "Islamist." Europol seems to have accepted this term as a proper adjective to describe terrorist acts carried out by groups that base their agendas and targets, at least to some degree, on their view of Islam. However, as Karen Armstrong has written, "These acts may be committed by people who call themselves Muslims, but they violate essential Islamic principles."  Regardless of such deficiencies in terminology, the TE-SAT understands "Islamist terrorism" to be "motivated either in whole or in part by an extreme interpretation of Islam and the use of violence is regarded by its practitioners as a divine duty or sacramental act." 



Karin Esposito

Karin Esposito is blogging on religion and politics from her base in Central Asia. Currently, she is the Project Manager for the Tajikistan Dialogue Project in Dushanbe. The Project is run through the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies with the support of PDIV of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The aim of the project is to establish practical mechanisms for co-existence and peaceful conflict resolution between Islamic and secular representatives in Tajikistan. After receiving a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law in 2007, she worked in Tajikistan for the Bureau of Human Rights and later as a Visting Professor of Politics and Law at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research (KIMEP). Ms. Esposito also holds a Master's in Contemporary Iranian Politics (2007) from the School of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran and a Master's in International Relations (2003) from the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (GIIDS) in Switzerland.

Areas of Focus:
Islam; Christianity; Secularism;