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When the Soviet Union collapsed and the cold war came to an end, the world felt as if it were on the edge of unlimited peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, new issues came to light, such as terrorism. Terrorism is defined by Title 22 of the United States code, section 2656(d) as “the pre-meditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.” In light of recent terrorist activity in the West, the danger that Islamic terrorism poses to national security and civilian safety has been brought to attention.
The Islamic world does not view the West favorably. Some extremists, such as the Hizballah, view the United States as “the Great Satan.” Although unannounced violent actions against civilians is called terrorism by the West, Muslims view such behavior as religious duty. Most terrorists are viewed within their individual countries as radicals, although some have benefited from gaining wide-spread approval in their region. With popular support behind them, these extremists have declared a holy war, a jihad, against the West, Israel, and all sympathizers of the two. In the jihad, terrorism has been the most used weapon against the enemies of Islam.
Although terrorism has been magnified throughout the world recently, jihad is nothing new to Islam. Although jihad did not immediately play a significant role in Islam, the idea of striving for a spiritual good always has played such a role. Jihad does not necessarily involve violent or physical actions. Jihad, when applied correctly, always includes a change in one’s self and mentality, and may involve a giving up of material property, social class, emotional well-being, and comfort for the salvation and worship of al-Lah.
The jihad includes an extensive amount of striving for righteousness. Even in contemporary terrorist actions, recruits for suicide missions are trained for righteousness and trained in the matters of personal piety and holiness. Because jihad is a spiritual matter, spirituality is of utmost importance to all who are recruited to join any jihad. One common misunderstanding concerning jihad is the inward nature of jihad. The West tends to think of jihad as a call to outward or external activity, but in the Islamic mind, jihad is a call to all individuals to prepare their hearts and s...

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...t it perceives that the terrorism it wages against the West is an integral part of its religion. The West in general and the United States in particular cannot ignore it and should therefore unite their efforts in an attempt to find different means of countering this kind of Islamic terrorism. But, the main success or failure of these terrorist groups does not depend on their religious commentary or authority. It lies in their ability to gain legitimacy from the general public or from the greater part of it in each Muslim country, as well as in the Arab world in a whole. The need for public sympathy and support is a crucial element of every terrorist group without regard to its ideology or political affiliation. However, in a society where religion has so great an influence as in the Arab and Muslim world, the teachings of Islamic groups are perceived by certain parts of society as the true principles of religion. The socio-cultural elements of their teachings are often combined with the secular tradition of hostility toward the West under American authority and toward its protection of Israel and the Jews, who are according to the Quran, “the worst enemies of the believers.”
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