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Political Extremist Groups and Islamic Movements in the Middle East and North Africa
Main Groups and Leaders Brief Overview
The crisis developments in Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria are destabilizing countries in the Middle East. The growing turbulence and unpredictability threaten the very model of the nation state, which is struggling to react to the challenges posed by non-state actors in international relations – primarily by extremist groups. The inability of the state to counter the terrorist threat leads to an increase in the activities of radical elements, whose actions take on a regional character, aggravating long-standing problems, including the Arab–Israeli confrontation. All this prompts the need for a comprehensive analysis of the actions of extremists since this will allow us, first, to identify the origins of crisis phenomenon, and second, to predict further developments in the region more accurately.
The Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) Designated terrorist group in Russian Federation
Considering the scale of their activities and the impact they have on the global agenda, it makes sense to begin by examining Islamic radical organizations, which are experiencing a "second wind" of sorts right now. The most salient of these – the Islamic State – controls vast territories in Iraq and Syria and positions itself as the leader of the global Jihad.
History of formation
The radical cell Jama'at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was born as a result of the intervention of the multinational coalition in Iraq in 2003. It quickly became part of Osama bin Laden's terrorist network under the name of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (link in Arabic). However, deep contradictions between the "centre" and the Iraqi "branch", especially over the choice of the priority target of struggle and the attitude towards other trends in Islam, led al-Zarqawi's group to join a major terrorist association called Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) through the Mujahideen Shura Council in Iraq without sanction from al-Qaeda. ISI rallied under its banners the Islamists fighting against occupation forces.

The creation of a new pole of attraction for radical elements coincided with the change of strategy of the U.S. Command in fighting the Islamist underground. The Pentagon put its stake on volunteer "revival units" (sahva) recruited from amongst Sunni tribes (link in Arabic). The approach yielded results: by the time the U.S.-led coalition troops withdrew from Iraq, the territory controlled by ISI had shrunk by half, and 75 per cent of its manpower had been destroyed. Moreover, it was in Iraq that the U.S. Command tested the tactic of "beheading" the terrorist organizations: on April 19, 2010, the head of the Islamic State in Iraq, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, and his closest comrade, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, were liquidated in a special operation (Abu Khuneya Khasan, Abu Rumman Mukhammad. Islamic State Organization: Sunni Crisis and the Fight against Global Jihad. Amman: Friedrich Ebert Foundation, 2015, p. 69.).
Group leader
Since April 2010, the organization has been headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, an experienced underground terrorist. Al-Baghdadi changed the group's strategy, concentrating on solving the Sunni problem, which involved a dramatic increase of support for the actions of extremists. There are many rumours concerning the personality of the caliph. According to some sources, he was an inmate at the Camp Bucca prison in Iraq in 2005. After his release, he joined the local terrorist underground. Social networks have repeatedly reported the death of the Islamic State leader in air raids. However, no proof of these reports has been provided.

How an introvert became the leader of the Islamic State
Territorial scale of the group's actions
With the start of the Arab Spring revolutions, ISI spread its activities beyond Iraq into the territory of neighbouring Syria, where a full-scale civil war unfolded. On April 4, 2013, the leadership of the Iraq group announced the creation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham –ISIS). That move triggered a conflict between Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on the one side and the leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda on the other. The rift led to fierce clashes, during which Baghdadi's fighters occupied large chunks of territory in eastern Syria, including the city of Al-Raqqah, the future capital of the caliphate.

On June 2014, ISIL militants carried out a blitzkrieg in the mainly Sunni-populated northern provinces of Iraq, establishing control over major population centres (Samarra, Baiji and Tikrit). The Islamist offensive was only stopped with the help of the Kurdish armed units, who confronted the militants on the approach to the oil-rich region of Kirkuk. On June 29, 2014 the creation of the caliphate was announced at a mosque in Iraq's second biggest city, Mosul. The caliphate was headed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who became the Amir al-Mu'minin, i.e., "Leader of the Faithful".

On the Sinai Peninsula, the leaders of the radical cell Ansar Bait al-Maqdis swore allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and declared the formation of a new province. In July 2015, more than 50 Egyptian servicemen died at the hands of the extremists. The flags of the Islamic State appeared in Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan.
Financial clout plays a key role in the rapid rise and spread of the group in the region. According to Forbes, the Islamic State budget for 2015 amounted to around $2 billion, making it the richest terrorist organization in the world. In June 2015, the networks carried pictures of caliphate currency, the Islamic dinar, equivalent to 139 U.S. dollars.

The Islamic State's sources of financing can be divided into five groups, in descending order of importance:

1. Illegal transactions involving the property and assets of physical and legal persons in occupied territories (bank robbery, control over oil-extracting and refining facilities, confiscating property, taxing the transit of goods and currency through territories controlled by the caliphate);

2. Kidnappings for ransom;

3. Donations, including those obtained from or through various NGOs;

4. Material assistance, for example, from foreign terrorists;

5. Raising funds through modern social networks.

The diversified financial model of the Islamic State ensures its high degree of independence from external sponsors; however, its structure is such that in order to maintain the governance mechanism and the combat ability of armed units, as well as provide social benefits, the organization must continue to spread its control to new territories, whose resources are then used to cover various expenses.
Social base
Maintaining a stable system of financing is very important to securing a broad social base for the group and to recruit new members. At present, Islamic State mainly relies on the Iraqi Sunni tribes that had been ousted from the country's political and economic life under the government of Nouri al-Maliki. Much of the organization's elite are officers of Saddam's Iraqi forces who were side-lined after the coalition invasion. Besides, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's group was joined by other elements of Syrian and Arab society who see Islamic State as a "fellow traveller" needed for them to achieve their own ends. Finally, we should not forget about the thousands of mercenaries who continue to arrive in Syria and Iraq from all parts of the globe to become members of the global Islamic project.
International efforts to fight the group
In September 2014, the White House proposed the formation of a coalition to fight the terrorist threat. The coalition would include 60 states, among which would be Washington's NATO allies and a number of other countries, notably the Persian Gulf monarchies and Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon – close neighbours of Iraq. A year of intensive air strikes by the United States failed to subdue the IS militants: the Islamists still control large areas in Syria and Iraq. What is more, they have managed to seize the city of Ramadi, an important stronghold 106 kilometres from Baghdad and Palmyra, the site of numerous historical landmarks that are included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Addressing the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 28, 2015, Vladimir Putin called on the world community to form a coalition to fight terrorists in accordance with international law and with due account of the interests of the Syrian side. The President of the Russian Federation said that the only force that can realistically stand up to the threat coming from IS is the Syrian army. However, its efforts need effective support if they are to destroy the Islamic State, which has become a quasi-state entity.

On September 30, 2015 the Russian Air Force delivered its first pinpoint strikes on the positions of the militants to a mixed reaction from the world, primarily from the West. According to the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, more than ten facilities of the terrorist infrastructure, including ammunition dumps and command points, were destroyed.

It is too early to talk about success in the fight against IS, because the outcome of the counterterrorist campaign will in many ways depend on the concerted actions of all the forces involved, including members of the U.S,-led Western coalition.
Al-Qaeda (The Base) and Affiliated Groups
Designated terrorist group in Russian Federation
The ideas of Pan-Islamism and the revival of the caliphate – the creation of a state in line with the concept of the Muslim Ummah – are by no means new. They may appear illusory in nature, but recent history has seen several attempts to implement these ideas. Before IS, the global jihad was led by al-Qaeda. Osama bin Laden, who created the global terrorist network, adopted radical Islamist rhetoric, thus providing inspiration for several generations of religious fanatics.
History of formation
The group was formed in 1988 and united the militants who fought against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The members of the new organization carried out several terrorist attacks all over the world, including attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and blowing up an American destroyer in the Gulf of Aden in 2000. After the events of September 11, 2001 the White House redoubled its efforts in the fight against terrorism, forcing al-Qaeda leaders to leave Afghanistan and hide in the Taliban-controlled north-eastern provinces of Pakistan. In May 2011, the U.S. Special Forces liquidated Osama bin Laden, who was hiding in a private house in Abbottabad in Pakistan. In the power struggle that ensued, bin Laden's closest comrade-in-arms Ayman al-Zawahiri gained the upper hand.

Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri
Territorial scale of the group's actions
Al-Qaeda has gone through several stages in its evolution: from a small cell to a major terrorist organization with an extensive network of branches in various parts of the world. Initially a hierarchic structure, over time the group became a decentralized association, largely because of the coalition's invasion in Afghanistan, which had served as a haven for the militants. The jihadists had to take refuge in other countries where they joined the local terrorist underground. They remembered their Afghan past and even took an oath of allegiance to al-Qaeda; however, in most cases, small groups joined the bin Laden network in order to gain authority in the Islamic world. The level of cooperation between the mother organization and the subsidiary structures remained low.

Thus, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which sprang up in Iraq in 2004, while maintaining formal links with the "centre", pursued an independent policy that in many ways ran counter to Osama bin Laden's ideas and fuelled a conflict between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

In 2006, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Fighting sprouted an organization called al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, operating in Algeria and contiguous countries. The group committed a series of terrorist acts in the capital and its suburbs, and kidnapped and murdered foreign nationals. The fighters of that organization joined other extremists in the conflict in Mali in 2012–2013, where training camps were opened and arms supply was organized. The Islamists seek to limit Western influence in North Africa, topple the secular regimes in the region and establish the Sharia law. The core of the local al-Qaeda branch are Arabs who took part in the war in Afghanistan. The Algerian group is far from homogeneous: it has several cells that sometimes act autonomously. In 2013, a new entity – Al-Mourabitounwas formed through the merger of two breakaway movements. It was located in eastern Sahel. Although the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdel, declared his support for Ayman al-Zawahiri, there is a sense that in the absence of unity some forces of the North African branch are about to defect to Islamic State.
The Somalian al-Shabaab has many veterans from the war in Afghanistan – former members of Osama bin Laden's organization. Even after the liberation of Mogadishu and its suburbs, vast territories in the southern and central parts of Somalia remain under the control of that group, which is considered to be al-Qaeda's biggest ally in Africa. Its members were involved in terrorist attacks in Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti. In 2013, they staged an attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi.

Al-Shabaab militants
Islamists get financial resources by taxing practically all types of activity, beginning from entrepreneurship and ending with military needs. Other sources are traditional burglaries, kidnappings for ransom and smuggling.

The declared aim of al-Shabaab is to liberate the Somalian-populated areas in East Africa and unite them under the flag of an Islamic Salafist state. The leaders of the group have repeatedly declared their allegiance to the global jihad movement and their wish to spread "true" Islam beyond the territory they currently control. However, no practical instances have been recorded of coordinated actions between al-Shabab and al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula maintains the closest links with the centre. From 2007, the group was headed by Nasir al-Wuhayshi, an associate of Osama bin Laden. Being close to the "number one terrorist" gained him authority in the Islamist underground and attracted new members to his group. The leader of the Arabian branch has been playing a still greater role in the international terrorist network since Ayman al-Zawahiri came to power. The magazine Inspire, published on behalf of Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, has repeatedly called for terrorist attacks against the United States and its citizens. In 2008, the terrorist group attacked the Embassy of the United States in the capital of Yemen. And in 2009, it made an abortive attempt to blow up a plane bound for Detroit. Their highest profile crime was the murder of journalists from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. However, six months later the group sustained heavy losses after its leaders, including Nasir al-Wuhayshi, were killed in an air strike. Looking at the dynamics of the relations between al-Qaeda and its country branches, it is reasonable to assume that the potential of that terrorist network to act not only on the global, but also on the regional levels has diminished significantly over the past five years. However, it is premature to speak about the decline of that organization. On the one hand, the years preceding the Arab Spring proved to be a severe test for al-Qaeda. Its loss of influence in Iraq, the killing of Osama bin Laden, the sharpened divisions within the group and, finally, the triumph of political Islam in Tunisia and Egypt – all this, in the opinion of many observers, should have seriously undermined the terrorist network. On the other hand, the new leader Ayman al-Zawahiri took several important steps to adjust the strategy to the changing external situation: he began supporting popular protest movements, attempting to nudge them towards the "Islamic alternative". With the growing extremist sentiments in Egypt (where the Muslim Brotherhood has again been outlawed), Libya and Syria (which have both been ravaged by civil war), the number of supporters of radical change under the flags of al-Qaeda has increased significantly.
The emergence of a new centre of global jihad in the shape of Islamic State carries a fresh threat to the positions of the al-Zawahiri group. Considering the fundamental differences over approaches to waging the war against the "infidels", we must note that the main advantage of the Islamic State could be its financial model. Unlike Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who manages to raise revenue on the territories he controls, the al-Qaeda leader still greatly depends on the donations of sponsors, especially from the Persian Gulf countries. Dependence on external players who find it increasingly difficult to transfer money to extremists' accounts due to the mounting efforts of the international community to combat the financing of terrorist activities is one of the organization's biggest vulnerabilities.
Jabhat al-Nusra
(The Support Front for the People of Al-Sham)

Designated terrorist group in Russian Federation
The support of one of the key players in the Jihadist camp in Syria – Jabhat al-Nusra (The Support Front for the People of Al-Sham) – may change the balance in the confrontation between Islamic State and al-Qaeda. The group, formed in late 2011, includes Syrians from the Islamic State in Iraq who headed home after revolutionary events broke out there, as well as military experts who had been trained in Saddam Hussein's army. The aim of the militants was the Islamization of the popular protest, the consolidation of radical elements in Syrian society and the creation of an Islamic emirate in the territories they control.
History of formation
In fact, ISI opened its own office in Syria. Its influence there grew rapidly, partly because of the mounting extremist sentiments of the armed opposition as the internal state conflict was gathering momentum and the Western sponsors of Bashar al-Assad's enemies, led by the United States, refused to be directly involved in the fighting, confining themselves to supplying non-lethal weapons. A year later, several thousand militants were fighting on the side of Jabhat-al Nusra. They included mercenaries from other Arab countries and their operations, led by Abu Mohammad al-Julani, covered entire provinces in the east of the country.

Jabhat al-Nusra flag
The main long-term aim of al-Nusra is to establish an Islamic caliphate. Al-Nusra's strategy is to integrate into local communities and gain their favour, which is in line with Ayman al-Zawahiri's July 2014 directive stating that the organization was to foster links with the Syrian population and the rebel units.

In May 2015, Abu Mohammad al-Julani said in an exclusive interview with the Qatari TV channel Al Jazeera that the Alawites were not their targets. Al-Qaeda in Syria, he said, is only fighting "those who attacked us and murdered our people." Al-Qaeda has no intention of using Syria to strike at the West. The main goal of al-Nusra is "to fight the regime" (Bashar al-Assad) and its agents on the ground, including Hezbollah and others.
Social base
Drawing on the experience gained in Iraq, the leaders of the group built up an efficient system of recruiting new members and raising funds. They introduced Sharia law on the territories they controlled and collected taxes. In exchange, they created a special agency in charge of distributing food, supplying energy and controlling prices for basic commodities. The social aspect of the activities of Jabhat al-Nusra earned it popularity not only with the local population, but also among armed Syrian opposition groups. As a result, the organization is uniting both the moderate and the radical forces opposing the al-Assad regime. A gradual "Syriazation" of the organization took place, as a result of which it became almost entirely Syrian–Levantine.

Al-Julani draws largely on the works of the major theoretician of Salafist jihadism, Abu Musab al-Suri, who proclaimed three postulates:

1. Muslim blood is sacred even if a Muslim is a sinner and has committed a crime (other than faithlessness, or kufr);

2. Administration of punishment at the establishment of Sharia law (including hudud). Not relevant until point 3 is implemented;

3. Expulsion of all infidels and enemies from Muslim lands.

Al-Suri also introduced something called "individualization of jihad", which implies, among other things, the concept of "lone wolves" (individual jihad), persons acting independently and saraya (individual brigades and groups). Saraya is a system of actions by ideologically united independent mobile groups that recruit supporters and exert permanent pressure on "aggressors" not bound by an oath of loyalty or a commitment to creating an "Islamic State".

According to Al-Suri, "the people of Qibla" or those who are linked to the Islamic world in one way or another, must be instructed and not exterminated, even though they have diverged from the true faith as understood by jihadists.
Financing comes from several sources, but the lion's share comes from overseas sponsors, above all from Qatar. Until December 2012, when the White House declared al-Julani's group to be terrorists, part of the money came in the shape of assistance to moderate Syrian opposition.
Interaction with other forces in the region
Considering the successes of the Syrian branch, on April 4, 2013 Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced that it was to be dissolved and incorporated into ISI. This signified the creation of a new power centre, the "Islamic State of Iraq and Levant", which controlled the Syria–Iraq borders and consequently all the flows of weapons and fighters. Defying the order, al-Julani swore allegiance to al-Zawahiri (the new head of al-Qaeda following bin Laden's death), who tried to dampen the conflict between Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIL which until that moment was considered de jure to be an ally of al-Qaeda in Iraq. However, all attempts to bring about a reconciliation between the conflicting sides failed. As a result, by the end of June 2014, the Syrian radical group had practically been displaced from its positions and moved to the western and southern parts of the country.

al-Nusra militants in Idlib province, Syria
Having lost control over the territories, Jabhat al-Nusra preserved its organizational structure and considerable military capabilities, which enabled it to challenge government forces and its allies, for example, members of the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. At the same time, the militants avoid direct clashes with Islamic State, whose units are active on the Syria–Turkey border and in the suburbs of Damascus. Moreover, al-Julani has been trying to put an end to confrontation with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Thus, the emirs of Jabhat al-Nusra, Saleh Hama and Abu Maria al-Qahtani, known for their hostility to the Islamic State, were dismissed from their posts (link in Arabic). In August 2015, Jabhat al-Nusra fighters abandoned their positions to the northeast of Aleppo in the immediate proximity of Islamic State units. Such actions suggest that in future the groups may cooperate with each other, which in turn may change the balance of forces in the struggle for leadership of the global jihad in favour of Islamic State.

At its inception, Jabhat al-Nusra tried to combine the Sunni identity while preserving sectarian intolerance (characteristic of Islamic State) and the new political approach of the al-Qaeda centre. However, subsequently al-Julani drew closer to al-Zawahiri to form new strategic concepts of the organization.
The Muslim Brotherhood
(The Society of the Muslim Brothers)
Designated terrorist group in Russian Federation
During the Arab Spring, profound changes took place in the political Islam camp, that is, in the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the broadest mass movements of Muslim people. It has a long history and its ideology in many ways determined the development of Islamism for decades ahead.
History of formation
The movement was formed in the late 1920s on the wave of mounting anti-colonial struggle in Arab countries and the search for ways to integrate traditional spiritual values in the context of changing political and social realities. The beginning of the Brotherhood is associated with its first leader, Hassan al-Banna, who laid the ideological groundwork of the group and set its main goal – the creation of an Islamic state in Egypt. The Brotherhood, unlike many other jihadists, does not consider the West to be a territory of war, and jihad, as they interpret it, does not necessarily imply violence. Contributing to the birth of this political movement were prominent members of the most important theological centre, Al-Azhar, who represented differing law schools in Islam. The movement was open to all social strata and numbered half a million members by the end of the 1940s. (Razhbadinov M.Z. The Egyptian Movement of the Muslim Brotherhood / Moscow, 2003, p. 321

Shortly before the assassination of Hassan al-Banna in 1949, a serious crisis occurred in relations between the establishment and the Muslim Brotherhood. The "Free Officers" who led the country after the fall of the monarchy hastened to get rid of an influential political and ideological rival: in 1954, the organization was officially banned on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government. From that moment on, the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood acquired a semi-legal character and seldom spilled out into the open. And when they did, the regime went out of its way to keep the Brotherhood out of the political process.

The situation changed dramatically after the fall of Hosni Mubarak's regime. The first parliamentary elections after the revolution were won by the Islamists, which were represented by the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party, with Salafist party Al-Nur as the runners-up. Shortly afterwards, Mohamed Morsi, a candidate from the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected president. However, a year later, the Army regained control over the situation by toppling the head of state and launching reprisals against his supporters. In September 2013, the Egyptian court banned the movement, keeping its leaders under arrest. The trial of the Brotherhood continues to this day; in June 2015 the former Islamist President Morsi was sentenced to death on charges of an attempting to escape from jail. In the year following the coup, about 36,500 people were arrested. The actions of the military administration triggered a wave of violence in the country: between July 2013 and May 2015, more than 1,200 attacks on law enforcement officials were committed. In June 2015, Egypt's prosecutor general died at the hands of the Islamists. Considering destabilization of the situation on Sinai and the loss of control over the Libya–Egypt border, which has led to fighters and weapons moving freely into the country, we can expect the situation to deteriorate further.

The defeat of the representatives of political Islam in Egypt will probably kindle radical sentiments and support for Islamic State in the Muslim world. The arrest of Mohamed Morsi dealt a blow at the positions of moderate Islamists who preach non-violence and incremental change of the system from within through elections. Disenchantment with democratic institutions and reprisals on the part of the new authorities and the army are forcing people to look for alternatives, including violence. Thus, for example, in response to the actions of the security forces who decimated a village near the city of Sheikh Zuweid on the Sinai Peninsula, practically all its inhabitants joined the terrorist group Ansar Bait al-Maqdis, which is affiliated with the Islamic State.

During its formative period, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, sought to go beyond the boundaries of Egypt and spread the ideas of pan-Islamism in the region. To this end, the leaders of the Brotherhood visited neighbouring countries, some of which later formed branches of the association. Representatives of the branches from Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Sudan and other states repeatedly met at conferences; however, it would be too much to say that the branches of the Brotherhood managed to establish close interaction. Indeed some of them had frequent quarrels.
Territorial scale of the group's actions
The movement is present in more than 70 countries. The strongest branch of the Muslim Brotherhood is in Jordan. It dates back to 1946. Since the formation of the Brotherhood in Jordan, its leaders have been committed to maintaining stable relations with the country's King and his entourage. This goes a long way to explaining the fact that Islamists were not covered by the ban imposed on party activities in 1957. Moreover, from time to time, the representatives of the association held important government posts.

Woman with Brotherhood logo
In the 1989 elections, the representatives of the movement's political wing, the Islamic Action Front, won more than a third of the seats in parliament. However, the Muslim Brotherhood practically always had to adjust their strategy so as not to antagonize the ruling elite. In particular, the movement's leaders consistently declared their non-complicity in the series of attacks on Christians in 1991 by the militants of the association's terrorist branch who had returned from Afghanistan. After Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, the Brotherhood, in spite of opposition from some rank-and-file members, withheld all financial aid for its sister organization Hamas in its struggle against Israeli occupiers, citing a lack of funds. Even so, it was becoming more and more difficult to maintain the status quo, because the authorities sought to limit the influence of Islamists by rigging election results and staging trials of the movement's activists on trumped-up charges.

With the start of the Arab Spring the position of the Muslim Brotherhood changed: they stepped up their criticism of the ruling regime, led protest movements all over the country, demanding constitutional reform and limits to be placed on the powers of the King. The leaders of the Brotherhood refused to take part in the Committee of the National Dialogue and boycotted elections in 2010 and 2013. After the government coup in Egypt, and after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization, the Jordanian branch found itself in a very difficult position, which provoked deep divisions within the Brotherhood. A breakaway group made movements towards rapprochement with Abdullah Ensour's government, having founded a charitable organization and staking its claim to the association's multimillion financial assets. At the same time, the new association has little public support and is more like a pawn in the confrontation between the authorities and the Brotherhood.

Be that as it may, the continuing rift has weakened the position of the Muslim Brotherhood inside Jordan. However, it is still regarded as one of the most powerful opposition forces. The more its activists are hounded by the establishment, the broader the support for them in society. A number of scholars note that the King is unlikely to ban the movement because the place of moderate Islamists would instantly be taken over by Jihadists from neighbouring Iraq and Syria.
The scale of the Muslim Brotherhood's economic activity is hard to trace, but from available data, the financial model of the Brotherhood is based on four main sources of income:

1. contributions from donors in the Persian Gulf and in the West;

2. membership dues;

3. charity (zakat) collected at mosques or at conferences organized by the Brotherhood (for example, the conference on the Palestinian problem);

4. proceeds from the investment activities of the organization and its members.

In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood has close ties with a number of Islamic banks and financial institutions which offer, among other things, managerial services.
(The Islamic Resistance Movement)
Founded as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, HAMAS was the first Islamist group to come to power through democratic elections in 2007 in the Gaza Strip and has been running the territory ever since.
History of formation
Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (Islamic Resistance Movement). It was founded on December 15, 1987. (Joelle Jafffe, Singeli Agnew. The Rise of Hamas. 2006.)

Hamas leapt into prominence during the First Intifada (which began on December 9, 1987), when the organization joined the political process and began to vie with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine for influence in Palestinian society. It was already using terrorist methods during the First Intifada. Later, terrorist attacks were launched mainly by the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades.

Hamas militants
Hamas was founded by Palestinian radical Muslim intellectuals and activists affiliated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The first head of the movement was Sheikh Ahmad Ismail Yassin, who was confined to a wheelchair in youth and had previously engaged in charitable and religious activities. From its inception, the organization pursued two goals: to fight against Israeli occupation and implement social security programmes.

The movement called for the liberation, not only of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank of the River Jordan (occupied by Israel after the 1967 war), but of the whole of Palestine, which would include modern Israel. Ideologically, the movement was aimed at uniting territories to create a single Muslim state, as witnessed by the 1988 Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (the Hamas Charter).

In January 2006, Hamas won a parliamentary election, but because it failed to accept international obligations (agreements signed earlier, the recognition of Israel, etc.) the Quartet on the Middle East – the United States, the Russian Federation, the European Union and the United Nations – withheld foreign assistance from the Palestine administration. Against this background, pressure from Israel increased, as did the conflict between the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) and Hamas. In June 2007, after a battle in the Gaza Strip between these two groups, Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip. But Hamas was ousted from the West Bank by Fatah.

Hamas has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, with the conflict periodically erupting into military clashes with Israel.

Israel's operations against Hamas in 2009 (Cast Lead) and 2012 (Pillar of Defence) ended with the signing of ceasefire agreements. The situation took a turn for the worse in July–August 2014, when Israel launched Operation Solid Rock to destroy Hamas military infrastructure and prevent further rocket shelling of Israeli territory from Gaza. As a result of the hostilities, a new agreement was signed which basically preserved the status quo. The Palestinians had lost 2000 fighters, while Israel suffered only 72 casualties.

Hamas has declared that it is ready to sign an armistice with Israel for a longer period – ten years – if a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders is created.
Group leaders
The movement's founders were Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi and Mahmoud Zahar. The Political Bureau today is headed by Khaled Mashal. in 1997, Khaled Mashal was attacked in the Jordanian capital Amman by Israeli Mossad agents, who sprayed poison into his ear. The agents were seized, and in exchange for them King Hussein of Jordan demanded that Israel provide an antidote and release the earlier arrested Sheikh Ahmad Yasisn and some of his associates. The demands were met, the agents were released and Khaled Mashal became famous. In 2001, the organization's Political Bureau moved to Damascus, and since 2012 it has been located in the capital of Qatar, Doha.

The organization's military wing (Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades) was headed by Ahmed al-Jabari until 14 November 2012, when he was killed in an operation by the Israel Defense Forces. His place is thought to be occupied now by Marwan Issa (read more 1, 2 (in Hebrew).
Territorial scale of the group's actions
Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, but it is also popular on the West bank of the River Jordan. It has cells in neighbouring states such as Egypt, Syria and Jordan, which frequently provide aid to the group. The Hamas Political Bureau has been located in Jordan and Syria. It is currently based in Qatar.
Hamas is mainly financed by donations from Persian Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. According to the FBI, some criminal funds also come from the United States. (e.g. USAID).
Hezbollah (Party of Allah)
Created by Sheikh Sayyid Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah during the civil war in Lebanon in 1982 with Iran's support, Hezbollah (Party of Allah) is an Islamist paramilitary group representing the interests of Shiites in Lebanon. Hezbollah positions itself as part of Lebanon's defence system, and, with the start of the Syrian crisis, sided with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, controlling mainly the border areas.
History of formation
Hezbollah was formed in Lebanon in 1982 with the support of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. This was preceded in the 1960s by the activities of the religious leader Musa al-Sadr aimed at mobilizing segments of Shia society. This led to the creation of the Amal Movement (Hope Movement) in 1975, which was the forerunner of Hezbollah. Southern Lebanon was under Israeli occupation after invasions in 1978 and 1982, and in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in (1979) a bloody Iran–Iraq war (1980–1989) broke out.

Hezbollah sympathizer
The founding of Hezbollah and the 1982 civil war in Lebanon cannot be seen outside the context of Iranian events. The driving force of the 1979 Revolution was the Shia clergy. The revolution was led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Moosavi Khomeini (Zhukov D.A. A Political Biography of Imam Khomeini, p. 5. (In Russian). Ayatollah Khomeini, an ideologist and, importantly, a practitioner of political Islam – is credited with the emergence of the ideology and movement of Lebanese Shiites. It came to be known as al-Muqawama al-Islamiya fi Lubnan (Islamic Resistance Support Organization). The existence and activities of Hezbollah depended on financing from Teheran.

Hezbollah became an organization associated with the ideas of exporting the Islamic revolution. In Lebanon, these ideas were promoted by Sayyid Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah (1935–2010), the founder of Hezbollah. Among the many confessions and beliefs in Lebanon in 1982, there were scattered groups of Shiites in the Beqaa Valley, Jabal Amel and in the suburbs of Beirut (its southern neighbourhoods) (Juan R.I. Cole, Nikki R. Keddie. Shiism and Social Protest. Yale University Press. New Haven/London, p. 149). Although the Shiites were the weakest and most frequently persecuted community that could not compete with the Druze, Maronite Christians, Orthodox Christians and Sunni Muslims, it was in their midst that a powerful Lebanese resistance arose.

The Israeli army that fought in southern Lebanon was confronted not by PLO militants, whom the Israel Defense Forces expected to find in Lebanon, but by local Shiites. Moreover, the more aggressive the Israeli army's actions became, the tougher was the Shiite rebuff. These depressed regions provided the main social base of Hezbollah (including the Shiite Amal organization, which by that time had become militarized) as an Islamic resistance movement aimed at liberating Lebanese territories from the occupiers.

It has to be noted that Hezbollah, initially a non-governmental religious military-political group, has over time evolved into a political organization in Lebanon. Many credit Hezbollah with causing Israel Defence Forces troops to withdraw from Lebanon in 2000.

In September 2004, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1559, which demanded the disarmament of all illegal military-political groups in Lebanon and the withdrawal of Syrian troops, which included the disarmament of Palestinians and Hezbollah. The Lebanese government was unable to disarm the organization by itself. Meanwhile, Hezbollah, like the Shiite group Amal, considered itself to be parts of Lebanon's security system. The withdrawal of Syrian troops was completed on April 10, 2005. The issue of relations with the Syrian Arab Republic aggravated internal Lebanese discord. In addition to the issue of Iran and Syria supporting Hezbollah, Lebanon needed a demarcation of the borders with Syria to liberate Israeli-occupied Lebanese territories. (Kerry, Hon. John F., U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. Prepared Statement // Syria: options and implications for Lebanon and the region. COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS. Washington. 2008, p. 4.)

The Second Lebanon War (as it was known in Israel) or the July War (as referred to by Hezbollah) of 2006 showed that the Israeli military operation in Lebanon had failed to destroy or disarm Hezbollah. The outcome of the war boosted the authority of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the region. Since that time, Hezbollah has been seen as the first Arab group that has managed to withstand the onslaught of Israeli troops and even rebuff them.
As a result, Hezbollah began to actively integrate into Lebanon's political structure, promoting neither Shia Islam (as many believe) and nor resistance (which is what brought forth the organization in the first place), but Lebanese nationalism and the rights of Arabs, including Palestinians (Juan R.I. Cole, Nikki R. Keddie. Shiism and Social Protest. 1986. New York, p. 153.). Many Shiite politicians have emphasized Lebanese national unity. The unrelenting position of condemning the policy and actions of Israel, the United States and their allies appealed to the region's population.

Lebanon in the Crosshairs of Jihadism
Hezbollah leader al-Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah tries to keep the Islamist (Shiite) element in the background while the organization's aims remain the same. As Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange: "Our priority is still the liberation of our land, and the protection of Lebanon from the Israeli threat because we believe that Lebanon still faces a threat."

The party has a TV channel, Al-Manar, and various radio stations. Hezbollah engages in extensive social activities in southern Lebanon in such areas as construction, providing drinking water, electrification, education and healthcare. "The main elements of the Party's practical functioning are hospitals and clinics that provide free medical assistance to its members and cheap services to all categories of citizens, not only Shiites, in the form of cheap medication and pharmaceuticals. In the absence of a free government medical service in Lebanon, the Party's hospitals and clinics are in great demand."

There are growing signs that Hezbollah seeks to take cooperation to the international level. Hezbollah positions itself not as a political or paramilitary movement in Lebanon, but rather goes beyond this framework, finding support in the region and in other parts of the world. Recent reports speak of the presence of Hezbollah in Latin America (Cuba, Venezuela, Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina).

"The attempt to emerge from the narrow faith-based framework to the level of international cooperation" is thought to be linked with two factors:

- the Arab–Israeli conflict and its regional and global implications; and

- globalization processes and the search for an alternative to a unipolar world.

Hezbollah is a major military-political organization with impressive capital and political clout. Born in and drawing support from the poor strata of Shiites in Southern Lebanon and backed by Iran, the resistance movement has evolved into a major political player and a serious force to be reckoned with. Being integrated in the government system of Lebanon through its parties (the March 8 Alliance) and holding ministerial and parliamentary seats, Hezbollah has secured its position and legitimacy in Lebanon. In the course of its evolution, Hezbollah has acquired significance as an important provider of social benefits for the country's population. While remaining a mainly Shia organization, its rhetoric is national Lebanese and pro-Arab generally. Coupled with anti-Americanism and anti-Israeli statements and actions, this has attracted allies and supporters from amongst Arabs and Muslims.

Group leader
Hezbollah is governed by members of the Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Assembly). The Council supervises regional and functional committees in charge of social and military matters, ideology, finances and politics. The office of Secretary-General was created later in the 1980s when Hezbollah became involved in the political process in Lebanon. However, little is known about the command structure of the military wing for reasons of security and secrecy.

Since 1992, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah has been al-Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah, with Sheikh Naim Qassem serving as Deputy Secretary-General.

The armed wing of the movement is headed by Mustafa Badr al-Din, who succeeded Imad Mughniyah (who was responsible for the majority of high-profile terrorist attacks carried out by Hezbollah, and who was killed in a special operation by Mossad and the CIA on February 12, 2008). Another important military structure – the External Security Organization of Hezbollah – which carries out operations outside Lebanon is headed by Imad Mughniyah former deputy Talal Hamiyah. According to some reports, Talal Hamiyah became the head of the armed wing of Hezbollah after Mustafa Badr al-Din was declared responsible for the murder of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.
Territorial scale of the group's actions
Hezbollah controls the southern part of Lebanon, with headquarters in the Beqaa Valley. The organization's influence may cover the whole of Lebanon, but its activities are not confined to within its borders. As the Syrian crisis grew, Hezbollah took the side of the Syrian Arab Army controlling the western Syrian territories bordering Lebanon (it proved itself in the battle to capture Al-Qusayr, which marked a turning point in the war). Hezbollah stages terrorist attacks (mainly targeting U.S. and Israel facilities) in all parts of the world, for example, in Saudi Arabia, Bulgaria and Argentina. Its presence has been reported in Venezuela and Cuba.
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) has played a major role in training thousands of fighters, arming and financing the organization. The Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad is an important hub and route for arms supplies from Iran to Hezbollah and for organizing meetings.

In addition to support from Iran and Syria, Hezbollah raises money in various regions of the world, especially in the Gulf States, Europe and the United States. Some financing comes from private donations and incomes from various legal and illegal activities.
Social base
Most Hezbollah members are Lebanese Shiites, but it recruits members on a global scale, including from amongst Israeli Arabs living abroad and Palestinians.
This is the first part of the reader with a short overview of present Islamists movements and groups in the Middle East and North Africa. RIAC is working on the second part of the reader, where there will be a detailed map of extremists movements in the region.

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Reader's authors — Fyodor Zamuruyev, Graduate Student at MGIMO University, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (IS, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood)
Ruslan Mamedov, Magister's Student at MGIMO University, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia (Jabhat al-Nusra, Hezbollah, Hamas).
Idea: Daria Khaspekova and Timur Makhmutov.
Produced by: Maria Smekalova, Alexander Teslya and Dmitriy Puminov.
RIAC is grateful to Vasily Kuznetsov, Head of Center for Arabic and Islamic Stydies of Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences for his contribution.
© 2015 Russian International Affairs Council,