The rapid spread of terrorism and religious extremism around the world today is best described as a disaster that has left millions of innocent people dead or homeless, too many cities in ruins and many countries torn wide apart by wars.
No continent is spared and the worst hit are Africa and the predominantly Muslim Middle East, North America, Europe, and Asia.
Before we proceed any further, let’s explain the difference and connection between the terms terrorism and religious extremism so we all understand what we are talking about here.
The Difference Between Terrorism and Religious Extremism
There’s a world of difference between terrorism and religious extremism that many overlook due to the close relationship between both in today’s world, which has left most regions devastated by wars and chaos. Perhaps a definition of both terms is in order.
A Definition of Religious Extremism
I define religious extremism as the expression of unjust and extreme positions or actions taken by some supporters of a religion, based on their comprehension of scriptures or religious teaching.
A Definition of Terrorism
Terrorism, which is also referred to as political violence, needs little explanation to the millions who have been victims. Simply put, it is violence or the threat of violence, such as assassinations, kidnapping, and bombing carried out majorly for political reasons.
Terrorism and Religious Extremism Around The World
There are quite a number of religions around the world, the largest of which are Christianity and Islam. Almost all have experienced extremism in one form or the other but the worst hit is Islam. In no other religion do you find extremists welding terrorism as a weapon like it’s done in Islam.
The result? Countless numbers of Islamic terror groups spread out around the world, three of which rank as the deadliest terror groups on earth. Below are their names and sphere of influence.
Note: Islamic state, which is also referred to as ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ or ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria’ (ISIS), has a strong connection to Boko Haram. For this reason, western security organizations often refer to Boko Haram as the West African branch of Islamic State.
As a result of the activities of these Islamic organizations that practice both religious extremism and terrorism, throwing entire nations and subcontinents into conflicts in which the worst atrocities are committed in the name of religion, the world has come to view Islam as a religion of terror.
Let’s now read a short story that drives home this point.
The Unlucky Muslim Traveler
JFK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, NEW YORK, USA.
Mohammed was scared.
He hated anything to do with heights but he had no choice today. He had to take this flight to Dallas, where he had an important business appointment in a few hours so he had to submit himself to the terrible ordeal of traveling at the highest of heights!
His only helper was God, Allah the most merciful, and to him, Mohammed offered one last prayer before he stepped up to the departure gates of the airline he was to board.
At the end of his prayer, Mohammed, 25, feeling a bit relieved, uttered just one exclamation, “Allahu Akbar!“, and then reached into his backpack for an inhaler. He was asthmatic and panic moods usually brought on the attack.
On hearing this particular Arabic phrase, Paul Savage, 38, an airport security officer with 13 years of experience under his belt, instantly jerked his sharp eyes to the man who uttered it. The man stood several feet away, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, carrying a bulging black backpack. He was reaching into the bag with a hand!
Without hesitation, Paul tore out the pistol from his side holster, but he never took the shot because two other security personnel beat him to it.
Two of his colleagues shot Mohammed at the same time and they did it on the assumption that he was a suicide bomber – a terrorist about to detonate a bomb in his backpack!
The killers were never prosecuted by the government of the United States. In fact, they were honored and promoted to higher positions.
Who Are The Real Victims?
Due to the worldwide activities of Islamic terror groups such as Al Qaeda, Islamic State and it’s West African allies, Boko Haram, peace-loving Muslims – men, women, and children – are no longer safe or welcome in western lands. They are hated and even targeted in retaliatory actions.
Over the last 20 months alone, hundreds of innocent victims have died from suicide attacks carried out by Muslim terrorists in the cities of Paris and London. Although this figure is quite low when compared to what is going on in some regions like West Africa and the Middle East, where different Muslim terror groups operate on a full-scale, wedging endless wars against entire countries, displacing and killing millions of people, the backlash is worse.
Two of the most notable cases of terror attacks in the western world in recent times are the Manchester bombing and the invasion of a Catholic Church in Paris. Both of these were carried out by Arab men claiming to be ‘Soldiers of Islam’, all shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ before executing their evil deeds. The Paris case, in particular, was the strangest because the attackers were mere teenagers…
‘Allahu Akbar’ meaning ‘Allah is great’, is an old battle cry used by Muslim jihadists or fighters in the past.
In mid-2016 a small group of Muslim teenage boys invaded a Catholic church in France and slaughtered the 60-year-old priest and nuns there like pigs. It was reported that those teenagers shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ just before they engaged the French police responding to the distress calls of other French citizens at the crime scene.
The teenagers were killed in the shootout that ensured.
Even as the western world condemned the killings of the priest and nuns, while peace-loving Muslims stood in shock, leaders of the Islamic terror group, Islamic State (ISIS) released a statement praising ‘their soldiers’ as ‘brave Martyrs’.
Countless reports of retaliatory attacks by mobs of angry French citizens on innocent Muslims throughout the country started popping up in French newspapers that same day the incident happened. Before long, the French police found themselves dealing with full-scale riots in different cities, where entire Muslim families were being targeted.
So who are the real victims of the activities of these Islamic terror groups?
Before you overlook parts of the account above in your hurry to say ‘Western people’ or ‘Western lands’, note that most of these terror groups attack other Muslims directly. For example, the Islamic State terror group is a bitter enemy of the Islamic Republic of Iran and all it stands for. Islamic State fighters will attack and murder Iranians almost anywhere they come across them, women and children inclusive.
On the other hand, their allies, Boko Haram, have been bombing mosques, market places, crowed bridges, car parks and large public gatherings in predominantly Muslim regions of West Africa for decades.
At this point, one begins to wonder if there is a serious conflict within the religion of Islam itself.
THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ISLAM
Indeed, there are two basic kinds of Islam in practice today.
- The Islamic religion practiced by the Faithful. This religion brings peace, joy, and enlightenment to all in its path. It is the true religion and its followers are quite tolerant; they do not bomb, murder, hurt or hate people of other religions. They live in peace and harmony with all.
- The Islam of Terror. This is a different version of Islam that encourages violence and hatred towards anything and everything that is not in union with its ideology and principles. It is built on deliberately misleading teachings and the ancient principles of the Jihad, the ancient holy war of Muslims against unbelievers, which has its roots in the holy book of Islam, the Qur’an, as written by the prophet Mohammed. This version of Islam brings death and destruction to all in its path.
As you can see, the real religion that is Islam functions a lot like Christianity, but the perverted version is where all the trouble is coming from. It presents the perfect launchpad for religious leaders who choose to exploit or mislead their followers for some reason, and in Islam, the end result is always terrorism and religious extremism of one form or the other.
Same Qur’an, same religion, so many different doctrines.
The Difference Between Christianity and Islam
Christianity and Islam are not that much different. In fact, they are quite similar in so many ways. A lot of knowledgeable people, throughout the centuries, have always believed that both religions are dedicated to the same God and the fact that they have a lot of holy sites in common, such as the City of Jerusalem, only adds weight to that theory.
Additionally, the holy books of both religions, the Bible and the Qur’an seem to have been created from the original Hebrew religious book, the Torah.
There are just too many identical quotations, characters, chapters, and verses in all three holy books to indicate otherwise. Their ideology and philosophy are basically the same too, and, interestingly, all three holy books have five-letter words as a name!
Interestingly, both Islam and Christianity seem to share the same fate in the hands of mankind in that their original principles and teachings have been manipulated, perverted, twisted and translated in so many ways over the centuries, giving birth to all manner of religious movements and sects. This issue is particularly worse in the case of Islam due to the ‘Jihad’ factor’ – the ancient Holy War.
Intelligent men of immense personality twist the words of the Qur’an into what they wish it to be and feed that adulterated information to gullible innocents looking for a deeper meaning to the chaos that is life. Culture comes into play and a new sect is born.
The doctrine of Islamic terror groups is based on the Jihad. All unbelievers are regarded as ‘infidels’ and so are to be wiped off the surface of the earth at all costs. Allah will reward this murderous and heartless activity by giving the murderer(s) an honored place in paradise in the event of their death in the line of duty or after an honorable life of service.
And here lies the secret of suicide bombing and suicide missions. The weird reason why young and healthy Muslims with a good future ahead of them freely choose to throw their lives away by becoming suicide bombers or go on suicide missions for terrorist organizations that kill so many innocent people including helpless women and children.
Terrorism and Religious Extremism in Africa
The largest terror group in African, and second deadliest in the world, is the Islamic extremist sect known as Boko Haram. It operates mainly within the West African subregion where it is fighting to carve out a territory for itself in an area where the borders of four countries come together.
The four countries involved here are Nigeria, Niger Republic, Cameroon, and Chad. The vast region that’s known as the Lake Chad Basin, which is rich in oil and is home to a lucrative fishing industry dating back several centuries, is what is in dispute here.
The Boko Haram doctrine is no different from that of other top Islamic terrorist organizations, such as Islamic State. In fact, if anything, it’s worse.
But wait! When did all this begin?
The Origin of Boko Haram
According to CIA reports, the origin of Boko Haram, the number one terror group in the world until it’s recent split into two factions, goes far beyond the life of Muhammed Yusuf, its legal founder, to a very popular religious preacher named Mohammed Marwa who lived in Kano, the second-largest city in Nigeria, during the period of the 70s and the 80s.
Marwa claimed that he, and not the Prophet Mohammed, was the original and true prophet of God. A lot of people in the predominately Muslim region believed him at the time and his followership grew rapidly. The years passed and soon, a sect was born.
Boko Haram Comes to Life
The Boko Haram Islamic sect was originally created as an Islamic fundamentalist group by a middle-aged man of immense personality named Mohamed Yusuf, who prior to his demise in the mid-2000s, lived in the ancient city of Maiduguri, Bornu State, Northeastern Nigeria.
The sect developed too rapidly to become what it is today, a very powerful and superbly-equipped militant group, fighting a full-scale war with the military forces of four different West African countries, all located around the Lake Chad region.
The group has single-handedly battled the four armies of these countries to a standstill, even as it unleashes horrific terror attacks on millions of innocent people in the region.
The doctrine of the Boko Haram terrorist sect is identical to that of Islamic State and Al-Qaeda in that it pushes Islamic religious principles and ideology to ‘extreme levels. According to their laws and principles, death and destruction are the rewards of everyone who oppose them, particularly ‘unbelievers’, or as they are commonly called, ‘infidels’. This is terrorism and religious extremism in its purest form.
Another similarity this West African sect shares with Al-Qaeda and Islamic State is its unique hatred for the West, the United States in particular.
The Boko Haram sect even takes things much further by making its hatred a blanket affair that covers all things western, including education (this hatred is directly reflected in the name of the sect as we will see later). It has often attacked schools and other institutions of learning in the region, kidnapping pupils and leaving burnt-out ruins in its wake.
The most infamous of these attacks took place in the town of Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria on 14th April 2014 when 276 female students were kidnapped and their school burnt down. The second image below is a rare photo of Boko Haram supreme leader Abubaker Shekau with the girls somewhere in the sect’s hidden headquarters in Sambisa Forst, Borno State, just days after the kidnap took place.
The Nigerian Army, even with the help of the United States Air Force, never found tho girls in more than 2 years of searching. The Nigerian government ended up paying millions of dollars as a ransom for their return. Sadly, all the girls were returned except one. A Christain girl who refused to denounce her faith… Leah Shaibu.
The Current Leader of Boko Haram
Today, the current leader of the Boko Haram Islamic sect is Abubakar Shekau. He’s the supreme leader and under him, the ideology of the sect has not changed.
The wars, bombings, and killing have continued. So has the kidnappings. But there’s a new angle to things now. Some of those who were kidnapped are beheaded or executed in video recordings that are released to the public through different untraceable channels. Sometimes, child soldiers are used as executioners.
The Meaning of Boko Haram
In the Hausa language that’s local to northern Nigeria where the sect was born and is currently active, the term ‘Boko Haram’ translates into “Western education is forbidden’.
A Book That That Brings The Story Alive
This article, Terrorism and Religious Extremism around the world was originally created as a kind of preface to my Action-Adventure novel series titled A billionaire’s Ransom (formerly Dirty Diamonds of Boko Haram).
A lot of people have called this book series a work of genius and it has even received interest from some movie producers within the country it was set (Nigeria). There have also been some interesting reviews on social media from some fans based in the United Kingdom and the USA. However, one vulture keeps raising its ugly head.
Strong objections have been raised by my Muslim fans about the ‘insulting’ manner in which the book portrays their religion and this has been upsetting enough for me to create this article and expand on it in a bid to set the facts straight.
The aim of my book is not to degrade, abuse or insult, in any manner whatever, the second greatest religions on earth, but rather, to entertain and call the world’s attention to, first, the difference between the Islam of terror and the Islam of peace, and second, the plight of millions of innocent people who have been victims of this horrible evil perpetrated by wicked men under the cloak of religion.
You can get more information about the book in the review… A Billionaire’s Ransom Series
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Terrorism and religious extremism around the world.