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VOL. VII, Issue 5

Denying the Link between Islamist Ideology and Jihadist Terrorism: “Political Correctness” and the Undermining of Counterterrorism

Ever since the jihadist terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, Western policy-makers, mainstream media organisations, and even academicians have been perversely reluctant to highlight the crucial role played by Islamist ideology in motivating jihadist terrorist attacks. Indeed, the more acts of jihadist terrorism that are perpetrated, acts in which the perpetrators clearly reveal their ideological motivations, the more insistently key Western elites refuse to acknowledge those motivations. This article discusses several of the reasons for this peculiar disjuncture, and focuses in particular on the persistent efforts to whitewash certain features of Islam, demonize its critics, and even engage in apologetics for Islamism at a time when the latter, in both its violent and non-violent forms, poses a significant threat to Western democracies. One especially worrisome source and dimension of this problem is the continuing reliance of Western governments on members of Islamist advocacy organizations for advice. In order to illustrate the degree to which “politically correct” impulses can have both damaging analytical and potentially lethal consequences, three cases of jihadist terrorism are discussed herein – the Boston Marathon bombings, the gruesome assault on a British soldier in Woolwich, and the mass shootings at Fort Hood.

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.…