Caspian Sea Region, Central Asia, Militant Islam, Afghanistan, Caucasus, al-Qaeda


Researchers and policy experts point to key issues and groups such as the Palestinian/Arab Israeli Conflict, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Saudi exported Wahhabism, and, in more recent times, the Iraq wars as being the source of militant Islam in this day in age. However, this perspective ignores key issues and ideals in to how this new form of Islam has emerged in recent decades. For instance, with all the conflicts that have occurred in recent decades, except for the 1979 Revolution in Iran, why have they not yielded Shari'a inspired Islamic states in Yemen, Lebanon, the Occupied Territories and Iraq? Currently the only Islamic states in the Arab world are ones that lay on the Persian Gulf that were established during their independence from colonial rule. One only has to look further east and to the north of the Middle East to see militant Islam taking hold in places like Chechnya, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Waziristan and a host of other areas which do not get the attention from many people in the West. After the demise of the Soviet Union and the years directly after, a political vacuum was formed that received almost no attention from the outside world except for states with historical and cultural similarities. Here Islam has and is being used as a military and political doctrine to accomplish goals and as an ideological base for launching new attacks against its proclaimed enemies. Indeed many of the key theologians and figures have come from the Arab world, but the rise of militant Islam could not have formed with this alone. Many of the fighters on the ground in alQaeda and its direct affiliated groups are indeed not Arabs but come from a wide range of different ethnic groups such as Afghans, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Uyghurs and Pakistanis who have answered bin Laden's call of lesser jihad against the West. Rather than examining militant Islam through a Middle Eastern perspective, this author wishes to give an alternate view that the current rise of militant Islam in the world is directly associated with the internal political situation of the Greater Caspian Sea Basin and not the Middle East as so many people have proposed in the past. To examine this idea, this author will look extensively at the internal conditions of states that have allowed militant Islam to arise and mature in such a short time span in this often forgotten region. The primary purpose of the proposed paper is to examine the rise of militant Islam through a Caspian Sea region lens rather than a Middle Eastern one. This study will also examine violent groups in various states to understand how groups are able to form and how they differ from each other. Countries ranging from as far as Turkey to the Xinxiang Province in China and from the southern reaches of the Russian Federation to Pakistan will be the primary focus.


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Graduation Date



Sadri, Houman A.


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science








Release Date

September 2008

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)