September 10, 2011
Extremism from Below, not Abroad
Monica Duffy Toft, Berkley Center
What is perhaps most striking about events since September 11, 2001 is their affirmation of a crucial trend: What happens in far off corners of the world can have serious implications for what happens at home. When Al Qaeda emerged in the 1990s it was not engaged in a global jihad in a pure sense. Rather, its main concern was Saudi Arabia and the eradication of foreign, western influences from that land. Only once its efforts failed in Saudi Arabia did the local jihad globalize, morphing into a network of interconnected individuals and groups sharing information and ideas about political objectives in the coming era. More often than not, these concerns were not about global politics, but about local politics.