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VOL. X, Issue 5

IS and its Predecessors: Violent Extremism in Historical Perspective

Islamic State uses an age old apocalyptic narrative to attract followers and legitimatize its existence. This research note show which narrative elements were used during previous violence-inciting apocalyptic manifestation in Christianity and Western ideology and how they can be retraced in the communications and enactments of Islamic State. The use of such narratives explains why the movement has been so much more powerful in attracting followers than al-Qaeda. Based on historical experience the prospects of fighting such a movement without annihilating it are gloomy, the more so as apocalyptic movements have a tendency to provoke a confrontation with their opponents as a manifestation of the promised final battle between the forces of Good and Evil which will produce the salutary end state, both of which are central elements in their narrative.

About ICCT

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is a think-and-do tank based in The Hague, Netherlands. We provide research, policy advice, training and other solutions to support better counter-terrorism policies and practices worldwide. We also contribute to the scientific and publi.…