Jihadi-Salafism's Next Generation
October 11, 2013
Popular uprisings across North Africa have unleashed a new wave of jihadi-salafism that is increasingly mainstream and appeals to a younger generation of activists. Al Qaeda attracted young men to take up arms against Western-backed governments and fight an international jihad, but it failed to inspire a large mass of adherents. This new extremism uses social activism and outreach as its primary tactics, and it threatens to undermine fragile governments and radicalize publics in divided societies. While the governmental response to al Qaeda focused on counterterrorism tactics, the antidote to this emerging extremism will have to be more complex and navigate local socioeconomic, religious, and political divisions. Ultimately, this mainstream or popular jihadi-salafism is less dramatic than al Qaeda’s version, but it will have a far greater impact on the region’s future.
About the Authors
Haim Malka is deputy director and senior fellow in the Middle East Program at CSIS, where he oversees the program’s work on the Maghreb. His other principal areas of research include violent nonstate actors, political Islam, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Before joining CSIS in 2005, he was a research analyst at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, where he concentrated on U.S. Middle East foreign policy. Malka spent six years living in Jerusalem, where he worked as a television news producer. He is a frequent commentator in print, on radio, and on television and the coauthor of Arab Reform and Foreign Aid: Lessons from Morocco (CSIS, 2006) and the author of Crossroads: The Future of the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership (CSIS, 2011). He holds a B.A. from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.A. from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
William Lawrence is visiting professor of political science and international affairs at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. From 2011 to 2013 he was the director of the North Africa Project at the International Crisis Group (ICG). Prior to joining ICG, he served in a number of positions at the U.S. State Department including as a senior adviser for global engagement in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES). Lawrence also served at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, as officer in charge of Tunisian and Libyan affairs, and as special assistant to the assistant secretary for Intelligence and Research. He appears regularly in the broadcast and print media as a commentator on North African affairs. Lawrence spent 12 years living in North Africa and earned his Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.