Every American knows about Iran, Al Qaeda, and ISIS. Many Americans are also probably aware of the Muslim Brotherhood and its proxies.
But the forces of radical Islam (or Islamism) are not limited to violent jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood. Dozens of other Islamist networks operate across the United States; some arguably exerting an even greater influence over American Islam.
They may not always directly advocate violence; but they teach a similar theocratic worldview from violence can, and does, emerge. They control charities, mosques, schools, community centers, activism and advocacy organizations, seminaries, PACs, inter alia. We call them lawful Islamists.
The over-emphasis on jihadists and the Muslim Brotherhood has allowed these other radicals to flourish in the shadows.
Now it is time to shine the spotlight on these other Islamist networks as well. Toward this end, the Middle East Forum’s Islamist Watch project has just published an extensive, detailed guide to the main forces of lawful American Islamism, focusing on five key movements: Jamaat-e-Islami, the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafis, Deobandis and Khomeinists.
(Our report is an expanded version of a chapter we wrote for the American Foreign Policy Council’s World Almanac of Islamism)
Our guide is not comprehensive; smaller Islamist networks did not make the cut. But these five Islamist movements represent the country’s most powerful Islamist voices. They are the main theocratic forces shaping American Islam – indoctrinating generations of Muslim youth, shaping American Muslim politics, and fomenting extremism and terror.