The arrests of scores of terrorist suspects across Europe following 9/11, as well as the attacks in London and Madrid in 2004 and 2005, were a stark reminder that the continent is host to militant Islamists of varying backgrounds. From veterans of the war in Afghanistan, to members of Middle Eastern insurgent groups, to second-generation immigrants and European converts, these radicals have all contributed to the image of Europe as a breeding ground for religiously inspired political violence. Yet very little is known about exactly who these Islamists are, why they are in Europe, and how and why they became involved in militant Islam.
Much of the commentary that has appeared in the post-9/11 era has tended to attribute the same aims and objectives to all Islamists and label them part of one globalized movement whose primary target is the West. Contrary to what some analysts have claimed, however, the European Muslim community has not become radicalized en masse. Similarly, it is often assumed that these radical Islamists are linked to Al Qaeda and share the same ideology. Yet in many cases these links are more tenuous than is suggested.
In "The New Frontiers of Jihad," Alison Pargeter delves into the causes, motivations, and diverse forms of Islamic extremism in Europe. Drawing on original research and interviews conducted with moderates and radicals across the continent, she shows how the lexicon of the war on terror has succeeded in distorting the complexities and peculiarities of a movement that, although based in Europe, is inextricably linked with the politics of the Islamic world.