When states collapse, so do the most obvious obstacles to violent extremism in their territory. Extremists seem free to recruit and operate from these areas without interference from state security forces. In reality, however, state collapse creates as many constraints as opportunities for extremists. This paper uses theories of sub-state conflict and theories of Islamism to compare Islamist groups in Somalia, Iraq, and Egypt. Groups in collapsed states face a conflict between local political power and extremist ideology; pursuing one often threatens the other. Understanding which one each group will prioritize becomes the key policy imperative for counter-terrorist operations.
Devlin-Foltz, Zachary, "Ideology Meets the Real World: How State Collapse Affects Islamist Movements" (2008). Political Science Honors Projects. 16.
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