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The Origins of Middle Eastern Terrorism

5000-Chapter 7 The Origins of Middle Eastern Terrorism

When discussing contemporary Middle Eastern terrorism it is important to recognize that it has identifiable historical roots. According to Jonathan R. White, those roots have religious as well as political aspects that extend as far back as the 7th century, with the founding of Islam by Mohammed. Islamic monotheism was born in violence, since Mohammed was targeted for assassination by polytheistic rivals and since the response of Mohammed and generations of Muslims after him retaliated in kind. Over the next several centuries Muslims imposed Islam throughout Arabia and the eastern Mediterranean area, successfully supplanting the other two monotheistic religions that were founded in the Middle East: Judaism and Christianity. By the 11th century the Christians embarked on the Crusades, which were meant to win back the Biblical lands for Christianity. Their greatest legacy, however, was that they "instigated centuries of hatred and distrust between Muslims and Christians" (White, 2003, p. 95). The ethos of the Crusades devolved into political rivalry between the European dynasties and the Ottoman Empire that lasted until the period of Ottoman decline and European (Christian) imperialism ascendant in Africa and the Levant in the latter part of the 19th century. Although there were some nation-states in the Middle East at that time, such as Syria and Egypt, the dominant form of social organization was tribal, and there was not really an Arab (still less pan-Arab identity in operation. That facilitated Anglo-European colonization of the area.

Two "big-picture" facts served to complicate the modern politics of the region in addition to the power shift between Europe and the Ottoman Empire. One was the emergence of Zionism toward the end of the 19th century, and the other was World War I. The development of Zionism as an international movement achieved momentum in 1896, when Hungaria...

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The Origins of Middle Eastern Terrorism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:44, May 21, 2019, from