Islamic radicals are very hostile to democracy. This surprises most non-Moslems, but the anti-democracy attitude is quite popular in the Islamic world, at least among religious conservatives. This is because, for Islamic conservatives, the only religiously acceptable form of rule is using Islamic law (Sharia), with councils of clerics making key decisions. It's never worked, but it's such a strong religious belief, that it persists.
The current round of Islamic terrorism is also fueled by fear of change. That has been the cause of Islamic radicalism outbreaks in the past. It's an old problem. But kings and warlords, in the past, have proved more powerful than Islamic clerics and their fanatical followers. Democracy, however, is seen as a much more dangerous threat than the well armed aristocrats of the past (or even the police state dictators of the present). While the secular suppressed Islamic radicalism with force, democracy does it by offering better alternatives. Thus, in desperation, one recent scholarly screed by an Islamic conservative asserted that democracy is a religion, and thus forbidden to faithful Moslems (and any Moslems who embrace democracy are heretics that must be killed.)
But there are some more fundamental reasons for the current wave of Islamic. There are too many Moslems. At least in the sense that the economies of Islamic countries cannot create enough jobs for all the young people coming of age. Consider that for the last fifty years, the population of all Moslem countries has tripled. That's population growth that is more than double the rate of the world as a whole, and about ten times the rate of Europe. It's about five times the rate in the United States.
Many of those unemployed young men are angry, and making war is a typical activity of angry young men. But the women are not too happy either, and this is becoming one a major threat to Islamic terrorists. In Islamic societies, women's activities are greatly restricted. One thing they are encouraged to do is have lots of children. Many women in Islamic countries are rebelling against this. You don't hear much about this, because women don't rebel in the same loud, headline grabbing way that men do. What unhappy women often do is stop having children. Not so easy to do, you think? Well, think again.
The rest of the world has found that the best way to curb population growth is to give women educational and economic opportunities. This actually works too well, with many industrialized nations producing so few children, that their populations are shrinking. The primary solution for this is allowing migrants from higher population countries. In Europe, this has meant lots of Moslems. While this has brought in some terrorists, the vast majority of migrants are looking for economic and educational opportunities. But it's in Europe that you get the best look at the women's revolt in the Islamic world. The men are fighting back, and the rebellious Moslem women murdered in Western countries get reported. But they are now becoming news in countries like Pakistan as well.
While Islamic countries tend to have very low levels of education, especially for women, the introduction of satellite television and DVDs has enabled even illiterate women to learn that there are other options. Ignorance is an excellent form of control, but when the ignorance is lost, so is the control.
Thus in most Islamic countries, the women are having fewer children, and making more noise about economic and educational opportunities. This resonates with some of the better informed Islamic men. One reason the West, and other parts of the world, have enjoyed much better economic growth than the Moslem countries, is that they have added large number of educated women to their work force.
Losing control of the women, especially via democracy, is something that makes Islamic conservatives very angry. Murderously angry. This is a vicious, lethal battle taking place largely out of the media spotlight. But, long term, it is destroying the source of Islamic terrorism.