Isolating ideological warfare as a central influential theme for Salafi groups such as al-Qaeda has been spotlighted by the United States as a critical component in confronting the root of terrorism. Countering ideological support for terrorism (CIST), as titled by the U.S. policy community, (U.S./NATO-Russia and Countering Ideological Support for Terrorism: Toward Building a Comprehensive Strategy Sharyl N. Cross), draws on the shared interests between Muslim and non-Muslim countries whose common interest is to build a counter strategy to negate terror activity.
al-Qaeda’s resourcefulness in attracting candidates to campaign for jihad has enabled them to establish cadres throughout the world. This paradigm finds leverage through classic calls for jihad rooted in Islamic ideology, as well as new constructs based on contemporary ideology and “responsive reasoning.” Al-Qaeda’s ideological warfare platform uses emotionalism and sensationalism to augment and guide their objective in patterning society off of the Koran and Sharia. Terrorism has become one of the means in obtaining their end goal – an Islamic system of governance, and as a result has introduced new threats to competing liberal ideologies such as: democracy, capitalism, and pluralism.
The battle between competing ideas is the crux of the conflict; terrorism is a result this disagreement. Al-Qaeda, the antithesis of open society, has affirmed itself as the alternative for those in disagreement with varying streams of democratic thought. Within this polemic is where the contemporary “war of ideas” resides. Al-Qaeda’s tactics in ideological warfare are designed to undermine societies based on anything other than the Salalifist interpretation of acceptable society.