Top Religion Stories of the Decade
The Sept. 11 Attacks and the Evolution of Global Jihad
Carried out by 19 Muslim extremists who justified their actions as retribution for American crimes in Islamic countries, the 9/11 terrorist attacks were the climax of a global jihad. Al Qaeda became a household phrase, Americans felt vulnerable, and the world would never be the same.
9/11 also provoked the invasion of Afghanistan and more aggressive intelligence gathering and financial monitoring that weakened Al Qaeda. But rather than disappear, Islamic terrorism found new outlets--in the Iraq War, with militant groups in Pakistan, and among individuals and small groups.
The 9/11 attacks also spawned an unprecedented interest in Islam, galvanized interfaith work, and tested American tolerance. While anti-Muslim bigotry exists, backlash has been minimal.
Some assert that Islamic terrorism is not a religion story because the terrorists are not true Muslims whose beliefs are antithetical to Islam. That is true. Nevertheless, they act out of religious conviction. It may be more accurate to say this is a story about the abuse of religion.