What Caused the Rise of Militant Islam?

The rise of militant Islam coincides with superpower conflicts in the Middle East during the 1980s. The influences for the more radical forms of Islam began in the previous decade.

The late 1960s through the end of the 1970s saw major religious and economic shifts in the Middle East and Asia. During this period, various revolutionary movements developed and saw terroristic action as a way to move political action in a way that aligned with movement ideologies. Analysis of the period by researchers within the United States Department of Defense suggest that unrest between Israel and Palestine in the early 1970s led to the development of secular terrorist cells. Tactics by these groups included inflicting material damage and guerrilla warfare. By the 1980s urban terrorism had increased as had attempts to inflict larger civilian casualties.

During the same period, Islamic factions like the Muslim Brotherhood were in conflict with secular nationalist movements and built opportunities that offered social and economic support to the citizens. Such groups received support from conservative regimes that were in opposition to nationalist causes. In other regions such as Iran, Shia Islam was gaining prominence.

As the 1970s came to an end, the Iranian Islamic revolution and anti-Soviet mujahedeen war influenced the growth of Shia Islam and Hezbollah.