Salafis 101: 5 key facts

Do Salafis support violent jihad?

Some scholars of Islam have coined the term Salafi jihadis to describe Salafis who support the idea of violent jihad, but such militants remain a fringe group within Salafism. (While "jihad" is typically translated as "holy war" in the West, many Muslims see it first and foremost as an inner struggle to overcome evil rather than a call to violence.) A majority of Salafis disagree with jihadis' view that Islam provides a religious basis for perpetrating violence against civilians.

Numerous Salafi jihadi groups exist, however. The Al Qaeda ideology espoused by 9/11 hijackers had its roots in Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism, which put the broader Salafi movement under suspicion as well.

Like-minded militants fought against Western military initiatives in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq. More recently, Salafis in the Gaza Strip have gathered momentum and engaged in terrorist acts, including the recent kidnapping and killing of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni.

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