Many in the West believe that the current outbreak of Islamic terrorism began when the United States reacted too violently to the September 11, 2001 attacks. Islamic terrorist violence is nearly nine times greater now than it was in 2000 and many in the West believe that this is largely because the West is fighting back. The other view is that Islam was, alone among the major religions, founded as a militant faith and has continued to preach constant struggle against non-Moslems no matter what. Many Westerners are put off by these facts and prefer to believe that no religion could be that violent and self-destructive. Yet the historical record shows Islam to be consistently violent, aggressive and extremely hostile towards non-Moslems.
What triggered the current plague of Islamic violence was more than a trillion dollars of oil income flowing into the Middle East since the 1960s plus an unexpected (and misinterpreted) Islamic victory over Russia in Afghanistan during the 1980s. That victory was largely funded by billions of dollars in Arab (mainly Saudi Arabian) oil money. That cash did not just buy weapons but also supplied thousands of conservative Islamic clergy preaching the need for holy war in Pakistan and establishing mosques and religious schools dedicated to keeping this struggle going after Russia left Afghanistan in 1989. Remember that the Russians were not defeated in Afghanistan, they just saw no future in continuing to kill Moslems there when their communist empire was falling apart because of bankruptcy and corruption. Two years after the last Russians left Afghanistan the Soviet Union dissolved and was no more. The holy war that began in Afghanistan continued, with the new targets being the United States and the West in general. Yet nearly 60 percent of the additional terrorism deaths after 2001 occurred in just five countries: Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Syria. Over 90 percent of the victims there were Moslems, mainly because mort Moslems did not agree with holy war. But a large enough minority of Moslems did to keep it going. Over 40 percent of the killing was carried out by just five organizations; Al Qaeda, ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant), the Taliban, Al Shabaab and Boko Haram. Nearly all current terrorism deaths are the work of Islamic terrorists. While not all Moslems are terrorists over 90 percent of active terrorists are. The war against the West began in the 1990s but the West didn’t really pay attention until 2001. The war continues because Islamic scripture justifies and encourages it and many wealthy Moslems continue to finance it. Before the oil boom the Moslem world did not have the means to make holy war against the non-Moslem world. Now they do, and they will continue as long as there are clergy who will encourage them and wealthy Moslems who will pay for it.
While Islamic terrorism still appeals to young Moslem men, most Moslems are put off by the increasingly radical practices, and ideology, of the terrorist organization. This keeps showing up in opinion surveys. The major problem has is the large number of Moslems it has killed, initially in Iraq but then in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa (Somalia and Nigeria). This was justified by the radical doctrine of considering a Moslem who does not agree with you a heretic. This means that person is worse than a non-believer, and can be attacked with the utmost savagery. That means you can kill the traitors entire family if you wish. This doctrine has been around for about eight centuries, and it has never worked. But it's where Islamic radicals tend to end up when they are losing.
The prime promoter of all this mayhem is al Qaeda, which formed out of Arabs who had fought in Afghanistan or provided support in Pakistan. Initially not all of al Qaeda leaders appeared to agree with the "heretic" approach of killing fellow Moslems who did not cooperate. This caused some rather public arguments, especially when al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, insisted that any Moslem who did not follow al Qaeda was a traitor, and could be killed. Zarqawis continued use of suicide bomb attacks against Iraqi Moslems turned many of his core supporters (Sunni Arabs) against him, and is believed to have contributed to Zarqawis death in June, 2006. The debate within al Qaeda led to the creation of the even more radical ISIL (al Qaeda in Iraq and the Levant) in 2013.
A similar "kill 'em all" strategy led to the destruction of the Islamic radical groups in Algeria. This violence began in the early 1990s, as did a somewhat smaller insurrection in Egypt. Both of these terror campaigns were largely ignored in the West, even though Algerian and Egyptian Islamic terrorists began to show up in other parts of the world. The 1993 bombing of New York City's World Trade Center involved an Egyptian Islamic radical leader, who had gotten into the U.S. as a political refugee (from Egypt, where he was being "persecuted" for his religious beliefs.)
After September 11, 2001, the United States and Europe looked around and found that they have given sanctuary to a large number of Islamic radicals, who used their new safe havens as bases for planning new terror campaigns. Young Moslems in non-Moslem nations are becoming the most enthusiastic supporters of al Qaeda, partly because they are farthest from the reality of Islamic terrorism. Al Qaeda and ISIL continue trying to mobilize these new recruits for terror missions. That is complicated by the increasing efficiency of intelligence efforts in the West, and anti-al Qaeda attitudes by many older Moslems there. But as long as you have clergy approving this mayhem and wealthy Moslems paying for it, the madness will persist.