Associated Press religion writer Brian Murphy warns of an “ultra-radical Islamic ideology,” which is drawing more scrutiny from authorities but which has not been exposed largely in the press.
There are increasing indications that al-Takfir wa al-Hijra, which mixes “zealot-like devotion and holy war creed,” is growing on the fringes of Islamic extremism, says Murphy in his Nov. 20 report.
While authorities estimate that the group has several thousand followers, they “now worry about followers becoming more aggressive with recruitment and retaliation against perceived foes of Islam,” with the use of the Internet and other global communications, he said.
Murphy claims that the group, founded in Egypt in the 1960s, has wide influence in Islamic fundamentalist circles and even inspired al-Qaida and other militant groups. The ideology “strives for a purified form of Islam and condemns anything or anyone deemed an enemy of the faith,” says Murphy. Takfir denounces even moderate Muslims as "infidels."
Azzaz Tamimi, head of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, told Murphy that terrorist groups, like Takfir, recruit by tapping into the “pressure and anger” many Muslims experience in their every day lives.
"Now we have a new generation of fundamentalists," said Mohamed Salah, an expert on Islamic radicals and the Cairo bureau chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. "The atmosphere in the world now makes it easy for someone to get two or three people together and form a group."
They use tactics, which include blending into non-Muslim societies, which make it more difficult to monitor and infiltrate the group, Murphy notes.
"It's there as part of the overall pathology of radical thinking,” Omid Safi, a religion professor at Colgate University, told Murphy. “Takfir is just part of the destructive tendencies occurring now in Islam," Safi said.
The Dutch-Moroccan suspect, accused of killing Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh on a busy Amsterdam street Nov. 2, has been linked to Takfir. Alleged Takfir connections have also been noted in France, Jordan, Morocco and Lebanon.
The New York-based Freedom House is preparing a report that examines documents distributed in some U.S. mosques, containing denunciations against non-Muslims and fellow Muslims who show religious tolerance.