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Extremism and Terrorism, Middle Eastern

The simplest definition of terrorism is the deliberate use of violence against civilians to achieve political goals. Extremism refers to political ideologies that are inconsistent with, or in conflict with, a society’s core values and principles. Basic elements of terrorism include that it is calculated (e.g., requiring time, planning, organization), involves violence against noncombatants, and is intended to shock. The purpose of terrorism is to create a high-profile impact with horrifying consequences, publicize a political or religious cause, intimidate and coerce authorities to accept demands, and undermine public confidence in their governments. This entry discusses modern religious extremism and terrorism originating from the Middle East.

The best known terrorist groups are al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Al-Qaeda committed the September 11, 2001, ...

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