Jihadism in Kosovo : islamized radicalism or radical Islam?
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No other war in the Muslim world has mobilized as many jihadists so quickly as the Syrian Civil War. In France, the European country that exhibited the largest contingent of fighters, the shockwaves of jihadist terrorist attacks have led to a heated debate among scholars whether the jihadist movement was fueled by the “radicalization of Islam” or by the “Islamization of radicalism”. This study operationalizes the two concepts to examine the jihadist movement in Kosovo, the European country that saw the largest number of jihadist fighters per capita leaving for the armed conflict. The analysis through a three-element radicalization model (ideology, grievances, recruitment) confirms “radical Islam” over “Islamized radicalism” and produces three key findings: (1) The ideology of Salafist jihadism provides a crucial explanation for the Kosovar jihadist movement, because many youngsters left for Syria considering it a holy Muslim duty to wage jihad. (2) Socioeconomic deprivation and the perception of Islamophobia have played an important role in making Kosovar jihadists receptive to propaganda that presented the Islamic State as both a wealthy state and a perfect Muslim society. (3) Recruitment is a social process within the greater Kosovar Salafist movement that is facilitated by a recruitment effort of the Islamic State (ISIS). The paper concludes that additional theories are necessary to further explain radicalization in Kosovo, and elsewhere.