Islamic extremism shows many faces as represented by the many and different groups of extremist orientation.
The diversity of extremist groups can be understood by basing the division mainly on their ideological orientation and political or geopolitical goals.
Ideological/theological orientation. Islamic extremism is not a monolithic reality. Different theological orientations have given different theological motivations. Iraq has been and is a case that sheds much light on the issue. While there is a clear war between the government and the rebels, there is also a war between the different groups, mainly those of Shi’a orientation fighting against those of Sunni orientation. At present, while groups under the umbrella of the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and Syria’ are Sunni, others such as Kataib Hezbollah (Hezbollah brigades) and Promised Day Brigades are of Sh’ia orientation. Ideological and theological orientation often defines and determines the source of funding. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been very active in funding Sunni extremist groups while Iran has been the main source of funding and support for Shi’a extremist groups.
Political/geo-political vision. While all extremists share the belief of a future world ruled and dominated by Islam, their respective political visions for the present may differ. A number of extremist groups (such as Boko Haram of Nigeria, Allied Defense Forces of Uganda and others) are endeavoring to establish in a definite geographical place, a strictly Islamic state ruled by the Sharia. Other groups such as Al-Qaeda take an approach which is international or transnational. In recent years, groups with a locally limited political vision are a product of bigger extremist organizations with an international or transnational vision. As a principle, there is no contradiction between groups in this area. (A.K.)