IN order to understand the logic — or the lack of it — behind terrorism, one needs to first understand the interplay of governance structures and radicalisation.
Islam has widely been used throughout the Islamic world to mobilise the masses. The ruling elite has utilised it for political purposes ranging from secular nationalist to pan-Arabist to Marxist, taking advantage of its populist appeal to support the agenda of self-preservation. Paradoxically, many of the same rulers created Islamist movements which they then crushed.
In Egypt, Gamal Abdel Nasser attempted to make the prestigious Al Azhar University dependent on the government in order to lend religious legitimacy to governmental policies, including his ruthless suppression of the Islamic Brotherhood. Saddam Hussein, leader of the zealously secularist Ba’ath party, put ‘God Is Great’ on the Iraqi flag and spoke about jihad in a failed effort to get Iraqis to fight to defend his regime. Ziaul Haq created jihadist groups and then attempted to disown ‘turncoats’.