The Doctrinal Crisis within the Salafi-Jihadi Ranks and the Emergence of Neo-Takfirism

A Historical and Doctrinal Analysis

In: Islamic Law and Society
Eli Alshech Hebrew University

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Salafi-jihadis, the foundation of many of today’s (most notorious) terrorist organizations, has achieved a significant impact on world affairs within less than three decades. It has given rise to many organizations such as al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Yemen and North Africa. In this article, I argue that an important change is occurring within the Salafi-jihadi camp. Material published on jihad websites in the last few years reflects an imminent and noteworthy split within the Salafi-jihadi movement. Evidence suggests that the Salafi-jihadi community has split into two groups in Jordan (Salafi-jihadis and Neo-Takfiris), and that some of the views expressed by Neo-Takfiris coincide with those upheld by Takfiris in Egypt between the 1960s and the 1980s. A similar split may be occurring in other locations as well. I describe the emerging rift, examine its causes and assess its essence. At the root of the fragmentation observed to date, I argue, is a profound legal and ideological debate that has the potential to impact Salafi-jihadi organizations worldwide. 

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