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Abstract

The re-emergence of Jihad in the parlance of international relations since the early 1970s has brought to the fore the question of this concept’s relevance to the contemporary doctrine of international law. Given the origin and historical background of the concept of Jihad in Islamic history, there seems to be a considerable change in the way it is being used nowadays. One benefit of studying the notion of Jihad from a historical perspective is learning that it was not always the way it is today. The change appears to be largely in the justifications, means and methods of warfare compared with the way they were envisaged and practiced in early Islam. Many Islamic Jurists argue that even the objectives of the contemporary Jihadists are relatively different. Nowadays, the call for Jihad is more frequently used by the leaders of Islamic resistance or insurgent groups than by state officials. Perhaps the most illustrative case in this regard is the statement that the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, issued on 1 July 2014 where he appealed to his followers (Mujahdien/Fighters) to: “go forth in the path of Allah, terrify the enemies of Allah and seek death in the places where you expect to find them.” He also enumerated instances of alleged oppression of Muslims around the world, promising his followers that: “every amount of harm against the Muslim Ummah will be responded to with multitudes more against the perpetrators.” Needless to say, ISIS is not alone in this business. Today, the world is witnessing a wide array of Islamic Jihadist movements across the globe. Although the US 15 year-long campaign against Al-Qaeda and the global Jihadist movements – commonly referred to as the “War on Terror”, relatively succeeded in destroying Al-Qaeda’s structure in Afghanistan and eliminating many of the groups’ leaders, and despite the growing determination of many countries to take action against Al-Qaeda and its associates, no informed observers believe that these movements will be eliminated anytime soon. A similar destiny is expected for the US-led international anti-terror campaign against ISIS and its affiliates across the world. In fact, the political tensions and military confrontations that erupted across the Arab World in the aftermath of the so-called “Arab Spring” – whether in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, or Egypt – have contributed a great deal in fueling and strengthening those movements. This rapid rise of global Jihadism in the past few decades and the limited success of the anti-terror campaign in halting their expansion has left the international community with hard-hitting questions about the potential role that the different political actors can play in order to preserve and restore the world’s peace and security. International law, since the end of the Second World War, has often been the chief instrument to address global conundrums of this kind. Nevertheless, in relation to this particular phenomenon, this research argues that international law, at worst, has very little to do to solve the problem and, at best, cannot solve it alone. Accordingly, it discusses the added value of the interaction between international law and Islamic law and it attempt to provide an integrated approach or partnership between these two bodies of law. The rationale behind adopting this approach is to attempt to create a pragmatic legal formula, inspired by the common values of international law and Islamic law, which could be used by international lawyers, policy makers, and international organizations to foster the compliance and commitment of the Islamic Jihadist groups to the laws of war.

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