Bloody Religious Schisms
There are two major Religions outside of the Orient, Christianity and Islam. Both have had some very violent history associated with them. For the Christians, this happened in two main periods. The first is after the fall of the Roman Empire, when conversion to Christianity was conducted at sword point. You either converted from paganism, or the ruler would put you to death. The second period was during the “reformation” where Catholicism was challenged by Protestantism. The Catholics and Protestants had numerous wars in the 1600s, the most infamous of which was the Thirty Years War, which literally laid waste to most of central Europe. Both sides were known for killing the other based on religious preference. The hatred between the two sides continued into the 20th Century.
Islam has had a similar history. In its early stages, conversion to Islam was done at the point of weapon. If you were conquered by an Islamic army, you had to either convert, die, or end up in servitude or slavery. There was also a schism in Islam. One branch of Islam became known as Sunni while their opponents were known as Shia (or Shiites). The separation between the two camps was over who the successors of Mohammed should be in leading Islam. Shia Muslims are centered in Iran, with sizeable populations in neighboring countries. Most of the rest of the Muslim world is Sunni.
The Sunni side of Islam is subdivided, similar to the way Protestantism is subdivided into Baptists, Lutherans, Anglicans, Fundamentalists, and so on. In Sunni Islam, there are Salafists, a subgroup of Fundamentalists Muslims. A subgroup of Salafist, called Wahhabi’s, exist mainly in Saudi Arabia. A subgroup of Wahhabis are Jihadi’s, and these are the Sunni terrorists.
The Jihadis hate everyone that does not follow their interpretation of Islam. Their hatred is most intense against Shiites, as they see them as perverting Islam. But then they hate everyone else too. They believe that they have the right to impose their narrow view of their religion on everybody. And if you don’t like that, they feel justified in killing you.
Wahhabi’s gained power, influence and wealth due to their partnership with the Saudi royal dynasty. Oil put nearly unimaginable wealth into their formerly impoverished hands since the 1970s. Many of them donate this money to their religion. Their clergy use the money to spread the Wahhabi fundamentalist view throughout Sunni Islam. Many of the clergy are radicalized Jihadis, who foment and incite terror through multiple groups and organizations (Al Qaeda and ISIL to name a couple).
The Shiites have their own terrorist. Iran overthrew their king (the Shah) and the country was taken over by Shiite clergy. The head Shiite cleric rules Iran. The Iranian government funds terrorist organizations (like Hezbollah) with Iran’s money.
The Islamic terrorists attack Jews, Christians, Hindus and Atheists; but mostly they are at war with each other. All of this is a religious war. Religious wars do not end when one side wins a battle or even wins a conflict. It goes on and on until the religions involved make changes to their doctrine and their believers conform to this doctrine. The only way this ends is when the cultures originating the problem change.
What to Do
Recognize that only a very small minority of Muslims are involved in terrorism. The vast majority are not. But many in the Muslim world are funding terrorism.
Terrorism requires funding and proselytizing. Without the two, it is difficult to convince someone to become a terrorist and then fund their activities. Efforts to combat terrorism should focus on two primary thrusts. One is to constricting the funds available to terrorist organizations. The other is to interfere with (better yet end) the process of converting people to jihadis.