In this month's Le Monde Diplomatique, Olivier Roy writes that
Most of all, al-Qaida is concerned to smash the political common front and confine Muslims to a purely religious or ethnic identity that most of them want nothing to do with. It is deliberately out to provoke a clash of cultures, perhaps because, at bottom, the real problem of the radicalised youth is their relation to culture of any kind.
Roy reckons Al Qaeda's militants aren't interested in liberating the Middle East, or in reconquering Spain, or whatever. The various temporal justifications Al Qaeda has occasionally made for its violence, Roy believes, are purely opportunistic, seeking to tap into widespread Muslim dissatisfactions and so build support. Al Qaeda itself has no specific political grievances, but is "in combat with the world order as they (sic) see it."
Al Qaeda is influenced in this, Roy believes, by the Salafists, who wish to purge Islam of all outside influence. Salafism, like Al Qaeda, opposes cultural and national forms of Islam. Not all Salafists, however, are jihadists.
Roy's article refines a view we posted here last month, based on the ancient political roots of Islamist violence. For although Al Qaeda isn't itself a political movement, its solution (jihad) involves the removal of all political institutions, and the assumption of their power by - one assumes - Al Qaeda.
The link is to Le Monde Diplomatique's English-language site:Britain: homegrown terror