Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues (Print ISSN: 1544-0036; Online ISSN: 1544-0044)

Original Articles: 2017 Vol: 20 Issue: 1

The Influence of Wahhabism on the Commission of Crimes of a Terrorist Nature in Russia: Criminological Aspects

Michael Yu Pavlik, Novosibirsk State Technical University


The article examines the main determinants of contemporary ethno-religious terrorism in Russia, including the influence of Wahhabism (Salafism) on the growth of crimes of a terrorist nature in the regions of Russia, in which the majority of the population professes Islam. The factors of Wahhabi ideology propagation in the North Caucasus are revealed. A number of measures are proposed to prevent the spread of Wahhabism in our state. The problem of counteracting terrorism at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries in Russia and in the world is especially actual due to the significant number of terrorist acts, the preservation of the scale and the threat of their commission. Therefore, the search for ways to combat terrorism today is a top priority and is of particular relevance. To date, there is a well-founded opinion that modern terrorism is mainly ethno-religious, representing the product of a clash between Western and Eastern civilizations by its nature. Ethno-religious terrorism includes a set of terrorist crimes committed on the basis of national or religious intolerance or hatred or separatist aspirations. The religious component in the activities of modern international terrorist organizations and single terrorists has, in our view, fundamental importance.


Wahhabism, Terrorist Crimes, Salafism, Terrorism, Terrorist Act, Ethno-religious Terrorism.


At the turn of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries there is a noticeable increase in the influence of Islam on political, economic, cultural processes and international relations in the world. Its strengthened influence can be seen on the post-Soviet space. From the late 80s to the present time, various Islamic political trends, groupings, organizations that operate at the international and regional levels have been formed here. Some of them are trying to cooperate with the official authorities, while others are making radical-opposition demands to it. In a number of regions of the former Soviet Union, in particular in the North Caucasus, the activity of radical Islamic trends has become a factor of instability, which negatively affects the international relations of the new independent states with the countries of the Islamic world. The phenomenon of politicization of Islam from the mid-1990s can also be seen where the Muslim community of the Crimea at the beginning of the 21st century demonstrated the ability to perceive the social ideas of Islam, sometimes even in radically extremist forms, which became a completely new and unexpected phenomenon for the state. These circumstances determine, first of all, the relevance of the chosen topic.

At the same time, sociologists have revealed signs of a contradictory public reaction to the dynamic growth of the role of Islam in world politics, the emergence of a fairly integral community of Muslims, which resulted in a gradual increase in the level of tension in society and contributed to the formation of a distrustful view of Muslims. The surge in the activity of radical Islamic groups, the ultra-radicals carrying out terrorist acts, the violent protests of Muslims against the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad led to the belief that Islam as a religion is supposedly extremist in the minds of the general public (especially after the September 11 tragedy) and Muslims are allegedly inclined to terrorism by their nature. Against the backdrop of the foolish information policy of the media sphere in its pursuit of sensation, along with a deficit of accurate scientific knowledge of Islam, the biased, is steadily forming a prejudiced attitude of at least part of society towards Muslims as a whole.

The increase in the level of intensity of anti-Muslim phobias is often associated with the implementation of special political technology projects on the territory of the Russian Federation, called to consolidate the Russian community on the perceived danger, to provoke a state of internal mobilization for the achievement by the subjects of international politics of concrete Political goals by imposing in the media space the sharply negative image of the "Muslim terrorist". Along with this, the lack of minimal religious education and elementary Islamic training in the part of political analysts and journalists that cover events in the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Crimea leads to the appearance of a bizarre confusion with concepts that are incomprehensible to a wide audience with undetermined content in many publications. Islamic fundamentalism and radicalism, Wahhabis and Salafis and the like are mentioned most of all.

Given this, there is an urgent need for a scientific study of the "Islamic radicalism" phenomenon (other common variants of its name are "radical Islam", "Islamism"), the need for a clearer vision of the specific features of its political platform as compared to traditional Islam is growing. Accordingly, the main problem of the article is the definition of the radical version of Islamic fundamentalism’s essence as an important stream of Islamic political thought, the features of the "Islamic radicalism" concept functioning (hereinafter IR) in science and media space and the use of its image in political technology projects. An important step towards solving this problem is to clarify the concepts’ content related to the IR fundamentalism, Wahhabism, extremism, ultraradicalism, etc., as well as determining the place of the ID concept in the system of categories of political sciences. An objective, non-anticipatory analysis of the above problems will allow the development of measures to prevent a potential threat of confrontation in Russian society on religious grounds and will facilitate its further consolidation.

Literature Review

In the methodological plan, it is especially important for this work to bring the limitation and inadequacy of the reductionism method as a mechanical construction (analysis) of a complex phenomenon to a simpler approach to the phenomenon of political Islam, the permanent applicability of which can be fixed in individual scientific publications, in contemporary political practice and media space (Weitzman, 2017). Analytical and comparative methods were constantly used during the preparation of this article.

IR became the subject of research immediately after its appearance. The basis for studying this manifestation of political Islam were the classical works of Western Islamologists Kaul (2016) and Joly & Wadia (2017) and also the publications of such scholars as Rouzental, Trimingham, Nasri and others.

Russian researchers pay considerable attention to the development of this problem, since IR has already become a reality of political life in Russia. Theoretical aspects of political Islam are studied by Alt?nordu (2016), Moritz, Göritz, Kühn, Schneider, Krieger, Röhlinger, & Zimmerer (2017) and others. They analysed the causes of this phenomenon’s appearance, disclosed the characteristics of its various directions and classified their political doctrines. A number of scholars directly study radical Islamic currents, examining their theoretical foundations, forms of activity, place in the political system of individual countries and influence on domestic and international politics (Bangstad, 2016). A peculiar compendium of achievements of Russian scientists in the study of Islamic fundamentalism is set forth in the work of Clements (2016).

Religious and political situation in the North Caucasus region is a particular subject of study of Russian researchers, which is due to its modern unstable socio-political situation and the aggravation of internal opposition of various political forces. Therefore, the main attention of scientists is focused on the analysis of politicized forms of Islam in the North Caucasus and the review of the activities of certain radical organizations and groupings in the context of the federal bodies’ of Russia policy on this issue.

Despite a significant number of Muslims residing there, also began the first scientific studies of Islam and the activities of Muslim radical extremist groups (Yemelianova, 2016). However, in our country, systematic studies of radical Islamic trends have not yet been carried out. The society reacted to the threat of IR, which appeared in the XXI century, only in the face of concerned scientists, who created the "Moscow Centre for Islamic Studies" by their own efforts. It was this scientific public organization that became the real centre around which the scholars of Islam united to obtain high-quality, reliable knowledge about Islam and Muslims in Russia and in the world.

An analysis of the scientific literature on the issue of Islamic radical trends testifies that there is no universal, clear definition of the "Islamic radicalism" concept for today. Over the past decades, regarding the interpretation of the term itself, one can observe a certain evolution from fuzzy, blurred ideas to a clearer concept and definitions (Shahibzadeh, 2016). If in the mid-90s of the XX century "Islamic radicalism" was more often interpreted as "a new fundamentalism, in the late 90s as an extremely politicized component of Islam, today it is more often referred to as "political Islam”, Islamism". In turn, those who actively use the Islamic religion as a means to achieve political goals are called "Islamists". The concept of IR has acquired a clear outline and broad functional significance in the XXI century in political practice and scientific theory (Baumgart-Ochse, 2017). Proceeding from the more universal category of Islamic fundamentalism, the concept of IR now characterizes, first of all, a dynamic, anti-evolutionary, non-reformative aspect in its three main elements. Islamic fundamentalism is the initial category of this study, which is necessary for determining the essence of IR (Pratt, 2016). Theological basis of fundamentalism is the requirement of "tawhid" (monotheism) of Allah in his reign, in his divinity and possession of divine names and qualities, on the basis of which Sharia scholars deduce the principles of the inseparability of religion from politics and the need to create an Islamic state, which are the signs of fundamentalism.

The General Religious Influence of Wahhabis and Salafis on Radicalization Processes

There is no doubt that the religion is a powerful lever of management of public consciousness. At the same time, taking into account the possibility of the influence of religion on the mentality and feelings of people, it has a powerful anticrime and, at the same time, criminal potential. The essence of the criminogenic potential of religion is that under the influence of religion, people, often driven to fanaticism, commit criminally punishable acts because of their faith and conviction. This is most clearly manifested in the activities of totalitarian religious communities and organizations.

Modern ethno-religious terrorism is often called Islamic or Muslim. And this is not due to the fact that Islam is inclined to terror, but to the fact that today's terrorism is mainly used by people who profess Islam and hide behind it. In addition, the real motives of terrorist activities are often hidden by the need to fight for the values of Islam.

Islam drew attention to itself against the backdrop of the spiritual vacuum that arose in the world in connection with the destruction of the most famous ideological systems. For example, at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st centuries, we can observe the Islamic revival, sometimes referred to as the "Islamic boom": the regions of Islam spread are getting wider, as well as the process of deepening and fundamentalizing Islam, i.e., return to its original form (Abu-Nimer & Hilal, 2016).

In the twentieth century, on the wave of politicization and radicalization of Islam in most Islamic countries, the ideological trend that Western researchers called fundamentalism is being developed. The theoretical basis of this movement was the legacy of medieval Salafi theologians who developed the "purification of Islam" methodology foundations. The activities of their contemporary followers have led to the emergence of radical fundamentalism, whose supporters are increasingly using terror (Dallmayr, 2016).

Of course, not all Muslim nations resort to terrorist methods. Moreover, not all Muslims share the ideals and methods of struggle that radical Islamists adhere to. At the same time, even in Russia, most of the crimes of terrorist activity are committed on the territory of the North Caucasian Federal District (hereinafter referred to as the NCFD); a region where Islam has a long tradition and its civilizational shape was formed under direct Islamic influence.

According to the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation, between January and November 2016, crimes of such terrorist nature were recorded in the North Caucasian Federal District:

• In the Republic of Dagestan-907.

• In the Chechen Republic-156.

• In the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic-129.

• In the Republic of Ingushetia-99.

• In Karachay-Cherkess Republic-90.

• In the Stavropol Territory-49.

• In the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania-35.

Thus, a total of 1,465 crimes of a terrorist nature were registered in the territory of the NCFD for 11 months of 2016, which amounted to 70.4% of all crimes of this nature registered in Russia. In 2015, 1,168 crimes of a terrorist nature were registered in the territory of the NCFD

(76.3% of all crimes registered in Russia), in 2014-883 crimes, i.?., 78.3%. Thus, although there is an insignificant downward trend, yet about ¾ of all terrorist crimes are committed in the territory of the North Caucasian Federal District, i.e., those regions which practice Islam. In addition, the level of terrorist activity in the Republic of Tatarstan and the Republic of Bashkortostan, where Islam is also the main confession, is still quite high.

Indeed, to date, the most favourable basis for the emergence and development of religious fundamentalist currents is in the regions of social and national tension. The statement of Tishkov, the scientific leader of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences that "the beginning of terrorism is where there is a sense of poverty and complete despair" is true.

As for Wahhabism, which received a powerful development in the North Caucasus, this doctrine, in fact, was imported into the region from the outside and found a favourable ground for its spread, providing justification for purely extremist and terrorist activities. The appearance of the first Wahhabi emissaries in the North Caucasus was recorded in the late 1970s and early 1980s, on the eve of Perestroika. It was at this time in Makhachkala and some villages of the Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, that people appeared in short trousers, with an obligatory beard and in shirts worn outside trousers. Then in Dagestan some women began to wear a veil. After the collapse of the USSR, the socio-economic situation in the North Caucasus deteriorated sharply. It was these destitute people, increasingly falling into poverty and utter despair that proved to be the most malleable human material for accepting Wahhabi ideas (Abu-Nimer, 2016).

In addition, one of the reasons for the situation in the North Caucasus, in addition to the complex socio-economic and political situation, aggravation of interethnic relations and other factors, were the fact that for several decades the population of the regions of Russia which practice Islam, has been targeted by the preachers who adhere to the radical currents of Islam. Moreover, most of them are adherents of such a branch of Islamic fundamentalism as Wahhabism (Salafism).

We note at once that the term "Wahhabism" applies mainly to followers of this trend in Saudi Arabia and the term "Salafists" is applied to those who operate outside the kingdom. In fact, both of them belong to the same current and hold the same views. Inside the Salafist movement there is a radical movement of Salafi-Takfirites, who consider violence to be the most effective measure for the realization of their ideology and resort to it in practice.

In our opinion, the spread of Islamic fundamentalism contributes to a number of reasons and conditions, including:

• The low level of social and economic development of a given region, incl. High unemployment and a large percentage of the population below the poverty line.

• Diminishing the role of traditional (orthodox) religion in the life of society.

• High level of illiteracy of the population.

• Ignorance of the Arabic language, in which the scriptures are written.

• High level of the local population’s discontent as a result of social and political oppression.

• A sense of outraged pride in relation to Western civilization.

In addition, a significant influence is exerted by a low level of knowledge about the doctrines of traditional national faiths against the backdrop of a general rise in the religiosity of the population; insufficiently thought-out policy of the state in the sphere of religious relations, allowing every possible religious trends and sects to penetrate and function on the territory of the country; the lack of effective programs for the ideological and spiritual education of the population, especially the youth; weak activity of traditional religions’ representatives; imperfection of legislation in the field of countering terrorist, extremist and religious crime; certain shortcomings in the activities of law enforcement agencies and special services (Bassiouni, 2016).

All these circumstances are fully relevant to the regions of the North Caucasus, against the background of which foreign Salamis’s emissaries have received fertile soil for the dissemination of their ideas. It should be noted that in recent years more and more representatives of Russian youth have been trained in foreign theological schools and other educational institutions, which in turn is an important ideological resource for organized criminal groups of a terrorist nature. So, for today, in the territory of the Russian Federation, about 2 thousand imams who received their theological education abroad (about 70% of which in educational institutions of extremist orientation) read sermons in the mosques and various prayer rooms. Also, more than 3,000 Russian citizens study at various religious educational institutions abroad, but less than 200 of them are studying the official directions of the muftiats. Most of the students are young people aged 20-25.

At the same time, today there is no unambiguous opinion about the negative influence of Wahhabism among believers, muftis and scientists. Many Russian Muslims believe that the Saudi Wahhabism is a heresy that denies the traditional religion of the fathers that preaches intolerance and violates the established national religious traditions. However, the chairman of the Council of Muftis of Russia, the head of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of the European part of Russia, Ravil Gaynutdin, holds a different opinion, saying that Wahhabism is the official ideology of Saudi Arabia, where there is neither terrorism nor extremism that base on Wahhabism. However, there were still terrorist attacks in the sacred Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina (the last of which took place on July 4, 2016, when a suicide bomber, who was driving a car, launched an explosive device near the Prophet's Mosque in Medina). Thus, there is an extremely ambiguous attitude towards Wahhabism. At the same time, some representatives of the Russian muftiate recognize their cooperation with Wahhabism. First of all – by paying Saudi Arabia all the costs associated with the stay of Russian students in the Islamic educational institutions of this state.

The external factor does have a significant impact on the dissemination of ideas of Wahhabism in Russia. In 1979, after the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan, the United States, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia created an implicit alliance aimed at opposing the Soviet Union and Shiite fundamentalism in Iran. The main strategy of this alliance was to support the ideology of Wahhabism (Salafism) and the Wahhabi movement. At the same time, Saudi Arabia financed the activities of the alliance and also provided ideological support for its activities by providing preachers for the appropriate ideological influence. The first Chechen campaign under the influence of external sponsorship from the Gulf and Middle East countries also contributed to the revival of Islamic institutions and the introduction of unconventional Islam in the form of Wahhabism began to occur the gradual Islamization of Chechen fighters. Thus, one cannot say that today there is no secret alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia in ideological opposition to modern Russia and an active external influence on Russian Muslims with the aim of introducing Wahhabi ideology.

It is important to take into account that the strategy of spreading this branch of Islamic fundamentalism was comprehensively worked out and implemented in practice by ideologists of Wahhabism. In particular, they actively support persons studying in religious educational institutions, incl. scholarships and other payments; try to penetrate the educational structure of other states and gain direct control over schools and universities; propagandize the ideas of Wahhabism in the media; conduct appropriate agitation and recruitment of new members in mosques when communicating with parishioners. In addition, they do not stop using violence, intimidation and threats, introduce the practice of sex slavery, etc. (Estes, 2016)

Despite the fact that according to official data less than 1% of all Muslims of the world consciously consider themselves Wahhabis (and are in opposition to traditional Islam), in reality about 10% of Sunnis came under the influence of Wahhabism. And this number has grown significantly over the past decade. This is primarily due to the fact that the governments of Muslim states do not take appropriate measures to counteract the spread of the ideology of Wahhabism and its propaganda.

The implementation of destructive tendencies in Wahhabism leads to extremism and then to terrorism. Because of this Wahhabism is attractive for reactionary forces: it is used by them to achieve their political and selfish ends.

It is also important to note that recently there has been an active rallying of Wahhabism with organized crime. Confirmation of this is the criminal activity of organized criminal groups in the North Caucasus.

Today, the Islamic factor in Russia, in particular in the North Caucasian Federal District, demonstrates a steady trend towards strengthening. This is manifested in the increase in the number of Muslim population, in particular because of the intensification of migration flows, the increase in the number of Islamic religious institutions and educational institutions and the strengthening of contacts with foreign co-religionists. Strengthening the role of Islam is accompanied by a growing heterogeneity of the Muslim community, where, along with traditionalists, supporters of modernist and fundamentalist alternatives, especially Wahhabis are increasingly asserting themselves.

It should also be noted that ethno-religious terrorism should not be reduced solely to clashes between Islamic and Christian civilizations. It manifests itself accordingly in each of them. We agree with the opinion of Professor Antonian on the need for a decisive rejection of the fact that the terrorists allegedly have neither nationality nor religious affiliation.

In our opinion, at present, the priority is to contain the spread of the ideology of Wahhabism and take measures to transition the most moderate Wahhabi supporters to traditional Islam. To implement this concept, first of all, it is necessary to implement a set of measures to eliminate factors that create a fertile ground for fundamentalism, primarily in the regions of the North Caucasus. In addition, there appears to be a need for foreign policy influence on Saudi Arabia, whose goal will be to stop financing the Salafis in Russia and the states bordering it. No less important is the minimization and further elimination of the Wahhabism propaganda and the prevention of the Wahhabism ideology expansion in Russia. Some help in this may be provided by the support of traditional Islamic countries, which represent a kind of ideological opposition to Wahhabis (Ness, 2016).

In addition, it is important to carry out large-scale awareness-raising activities at the state level, the purpose of which will be to expose the terrorist ideology of Wahhabism. It is especially important for the well-trained domestic servants of the Muslim cult, representatives of the public and the media to be involved in such activities.

We consider the opinion of the senior expert of the Centre for Political Studies V.?. Kolpashnikov that in the neutralization of the Wahhabism ideology an important role could be played by raising the level of the Russian Muslim education to be absolutely justified. In particular, compulsory certification of graduates from foreign Islamic universities should become mandatory, which will enable the subsequent implementation of teaching activities in the territory of our country. In addition, it is necessary to develop the already existing Muslim educational institutions in Russia, which should become one of the most authoritative in the entire Muslim world. The attraction of foreign specialists with a world-wide reputation, the creation of worthy conditions for educational activities, the development of a system of Muslim education based on the traditional values of Islam with the introduction of modern educational technologies will raise the authority of the Islamic community of Russia in the international Islamic community, will create highly skilled domestic cadres and significantly reduce the flow of individuals receiving theological education abroad.

Separation of Radical Islam in the Terminological Sense

Analysis of the fundamentalist ideas’ development allows us to determine the main ways to achieve the goals of Islamic fundamentalism:

• Traditionalism

• Reformation

• Radicalism

IR is the last way which is in the article’s problem field. In general, two polar approaches to the determination of the relationship between the religion of Islam and Islamic radicalism have taken shape in science.

Supporters of the first approach most often believe that Islam is only used by radicals that they hide behind it disguise themselves, without having essential links with the spirit of the "religion of the Prophet". At the same time, it is asserted that Islam is a religion of love, moderation, mercy and justice and therefore it does not and cannot have anything to do with the processes destabilizing society, which are accompanied by violence – right up to terrorism. It should be noted that such a position is actively supported by leading Islamic leaders. In particular, Secretary of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation Ekmeleddin ?hsano?lu stated that there is no such thing as "radical Islam". He stressed that there are radical people who use Islam for their own purposes.

The second approach, characteristic of many American and Russian politicians, political technologists and journalists, as opposed to the first one, deliberately shapes the image of Islam as a religion of violence and enmity, insisting on the primary presence of radicalism in Islam. However, the political analysis of real political events with the participation of Muslim movements fixes unnamed positions in their pure form and their combination with a variety of intermediate forms. At the same time, it is undeniable that there is an obvious connection between Islam and the practice of its radical followers: every Islamist is a Muslim, but not every Muslim is an Islamist (Winter, 2016).

In general, scientific discussions on IR are developed in two main directions – religious or political aspects are singled out. Given this, most scientists believe that IR exists in two main forms: as an ideological doctrine and social and political practice based on this doctrine. It is realized in the activities of various kinds of Islamist organizations, which in their totality constitute a radical Islamic movement. They differ primarily in understanding the ways of achieving political goals; ethnic composition; degree of moderation and extremism; recognition of various types of Islamic state the caliphate (in Sunnism) and theocracy (in Shiaism).

This allows you to see the specific features of the IR, determine its social base, the main components of the definition. For example, in the scientific report of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, IR is defined as the use of Islamic slogans and elements of the teachings of Islam as an ideological platform by political groups, which distinguishes them from other social formations in the course of the power struggle with their political rivals. This struggle can take place both within the limits of legal methods for one or another country and go beyond them. An interesting interpretation of this concept is given by Ignatenko, who, similarly to the above definition of Islamism, emphasizes the instrumental role of the IR in building the state solely on the norms derived from the Quran and Sunnah. Close to this is the definition proposed by the leading Russian researcher of this problem. Let us add: IR is an ideological doctrine and social and political practice based on it that are characterized by the normative-value fixing of the ideological, political and even armed confrontation of the world of "true Islam" in relation to the world of "infidels" (from outside) and to the world "false faith "(within Islam), which requires absolute social control and mobilization (serving the idea) of their supporters.

Based on the above mentioned definitions, we can conclude that the idea of IR is associated with a dynamic social movement aimed at creating political conditions for the introduction of the universal exclusivity of the Shariah norms of social life in all its manifestations. That is why the concept of IR enters into broader spheres of political Islam. Considering the fact that there is no state in the world today where all aspects of society’s life without exception would be regulated solely by Sharia norms without observing the traditions of the national monarchy or innovations of republican constitutionalism, the implementation of the IR project only presupposes the future profound and wide-scale social transformation of the whole Islamic world (for the ultra-radicals and the non-Islamic world) (Winter, 2016).

Political radicalism among Muslims is manifested primarily in the form of opposition to pro-Western regimes existing in most Muslim countries. This shows that IR can be primarily considered a political rather than a social and religious movement: its representatives never come forward with ideas of reforming Islam proper as a revelatory religion, that is, an untouchable one. They only require changing the place and role of religion in the life of society, seeking to achieve change in politics through this, for which they need the variability of the dominant ideology. Subsequently, the political practice of the existing regime and the state system is being transformed on this basis, the reason for which is their inconsistency with the attitudes of Islam. Not all ideological currents that exist in the Muslim world, regardless of their ultimate political goal, appeal to a single Islamic doctrine about the world order, about the absolute dominion of Allah in the world. Only then, at the stage of formulating claims of a political nature on this ground, the nonreligious component of political radicalism in Islam is clearly visible. This two-step process is not an accident, because Islam is organically linked with politics and the creation of the state through its social doctrine. In this context, it is clear why the Swedish researcher Johnson, while defining the essence of the particular IR, notes that radical Islamic political trends (in theory and in practice) are part of a more general trend of social re-Islamization and politicization of Islam.

From this we conclude that the IR represents a completely natural, but at the same time, extreme manifestation of all the trends existing within the framework of political Islam. That is why the concept of IR can be applied to all ideological currents of fundamentalism in Islam. Through these terms, "IR" and "Islamic fundamentalism" are not absolutely identical, expressing different planes of socio-political thought of a Muslim. It can be said that fundamentalism directs a person's view of the basic content of Islam, in the dimensions of which he really acts as a religion of peace, good and patience. The radical approach only turns dynamicizes or even revolutionizes (often disregarding circumstances or human lives) existing spiritual and religious aspirations to the highest values of Islam.

Neglect of the clarity of definitions, disregard for the existence of semantic boundaries between the studied concepts leads some authors to an unproductive confusion. For example, the researcher Sazhin identifies four main trends of the IR (in his terminology of "Islamism"): he describes the first as "adaptation and synthesis," the second as "conservative" or "traditionalist", the third as fundamentalism, the fourth as radical fundamentalism, directly related to terrorism (Gilman, 2017). In our opinion, this classification does not correspond to reality. Indeed, today the tendencies towards the radicalization of fundamentalism are becoming more expressive than before, providing dynamic features to the system-forming elements of fundamentalism itself, both in Sunni and Shiite manifestations of it (this should be considered the main reason that some researchers, journalists and military analysts mechanically identify fundamentalism and radicalism). In addition, in practice, radicalized ethno-political and religious-political doctrines in mixed forms (synthetic, syncretic and even eclectic) are more often the ideological justification for the socio-political actions of Islamic radicals, extremists and even terrorists. Such syncretism takes place in the ideological justification of the extremist activities of the Afghan Taliban movement, the Palestinian Al-Jihad Islami (Islamic Jihad). It consists of a combination of fundamentalist-political ideas of the traditionalist type and in the case of the Turkish "Boz Kurt" in the form of a similar fundamentalist-nationalist Islamic-Turkish synthesis, where the Islamic component is represented mainly by reformist tendencies. Therefore, speaking of the presence of radicalism in Islam, we must necessarily take into account its place in the system of the functional triad, on which fundamentalism rests: traditionalism, reformism and radicalism.


Thus, knowledge of the national and religious characteristics and belonging of terrorists to Wahhabism will enable us to understand the nature and main causes of ethno-religious terrorism, to organize opposition to it, relying on the values that are available in the relevant national and religious cultures and to ensure the effectiveness of countering the ideology of Wahhabism.

At the same time, most researchers already begin to share the view that radicalism should not be considered simply an extreme trend in political Islam, since radicalism can be a dynamic characteristic of all its trends. Then the existence of two levels of IR in the future becomes clear moderate and ultra-radical. It is the latter that is usually interpreted as an extreme current, which manifests itself in the form of extremism and terrorism. This approach is observed in practice in a number of countries (Egypt, Lebanon) there is a differential approach to the supporters of the two main levels of radical Islam. On one hand, the "moderate" are attracted to participate in the political (including parliamentary) struggle, they are integrated to participate in the economy, admitted to work in the management bodies of all levels, etc. with the continued control of the authorities over their activities. On the other hand, they apply rigid administrative, even repressive, means against Islamic extremists from the ultra-radical wing of the IR. In the Middle East, IR is also common among the most determined Muslim politicians of a constructive nature. At the same time, in contrast to the radicalism of this type, ultra-radicalism, which takes on forms of extremism and terrorism, in the Middle Eastern countries and all over the world, is almost unanimously assessed negatively. So, the phenomenon of radicalism among Muslims does not have an unambiguously positive or negative meaning, since the assessment aspect itself often directly depends on the specific political and cultural context.


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