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Dying Regime from Maldives / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0




Even in Germany, we have to expect that an Islamist attack could happen any day.

Thomas Haldenwang, President of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution

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At a glance

  • Islamist extremism ranges from non-violent movements right through to terrorist jihadism. However, all forms of Islamism are united by their rejection of the liberal democratic basic order.
  • In essence, the political ideology underpinning Islamism aims at reorganising the state and society on the basis of values declared to be Islamic.
  • On the international front, the fight against Islamist terrorism in its core areas needs to be part of strategic approaches to tackle the causes of terrorist activities in the West.
  • In terms of domestic policy, politicians and authorities also must identify, observe and combat long-term attempts at infiltrating state, democratic institutions at an early stage.
  • The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung fundamentally opposes political extremism. We therefore promote debate on the phenomenon of Islamism and play a role in preserving democracy.



1. Concept and problem

2. Not losing sight of the islamist threat

3. Mission democracy! Us against islamist extremism

4. Our offers and projects on the topic

5. Publications, events and media contributions on the topic


Concept and problem

For decades, the research community has been discussing the definition and meaning of the terms Islamism and political Islam. Here, the demarcation of religion and politics plays a particularly decisive role. The repeated revival of this discussion is directly dependent on the global political situation: the economic and political situation in Islamic countries and the current danger posed by violent (Jihadist) Islamism. The most recent debate equates the terms “political Islam” and “Islamism” in distinguishing them from the religion of Islam. It describes it as a political ideology or movement that aims to transform state and society on the basis of values declared as Islamic (Andreas Jacobs and Annette Ranko).

Islamist extremists – just like right-wing extremists and left-wing actors – are outside society’s tolerance zone, and challenge our democratic society and the democratic constitutional state. In Germany, Islamism can contradict the existing liberal democratic basic order by opposing the sovereignty of people, freedom of opinion, equal rights as well as the separation of state and religion as laid down in the Basic Law (Verfassungsschutzbericht 2020) (Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution). The Islamist spectrum ranges from non-violent Islamism – which poses the danger of infiltrating democratic institutions – right through to violent Islamism, Jihadism, which represents a terrorist threat.


Not losing sight of the islamist threat

Jihadist organisations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State brought the Islamist threat directly to the West – to the USA and Europe. Even though, at least since the attacks of 11 September, international politics and its security authorities have been strongly influenced by the fight against Islamist terrorism and its origin, Islamism, they failed to contain terrorism in its core areas.

It is therefore essential for the security of Germany and Europe to continue this fight. Abroad, German foreign, security and development policy must not lose sight of developments in the core areas of terrorist organisations, and need to take them into account in their strategic approaches, so as to counter the causes of terrorist activities in the West.

At home, policymakers and authorities need to remain vigilant, and continuously observe both violent and non-violent Islamism. This must also be a priority when public threat perception decreases again due to longer periods without terrorist attacks or the increasing threat from other extremist phenomena. The long-term infiltration of state, democratic institutions by Islamist actors can create a fertile breeding ground for terrorist activities that cannot be ignored. What is more, the combating strategy must focus on preventing the radicalisation of vulnerable groups in order to prevent an increase in extremist potential.


Mission democracy! Us against islamist extremism

As the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, we stand against all forms of extremism and align our work accordingly. In cooperation with experts, politicians, associations, organisations, and citizens, we encourage discussion on this phenomenon Islamist Extremism and play our role in preserving democracy.

Our offers and projects on the topic

Extremism project

In collaboration with experts, we have drawn up a series of different articles in a comprehensive extremism project, which aim to inform and educate about a wide range of aspects, such as Islamist extremism.



The editorial gives you a short thematic introduction to the project. Here you will find, among other things, a list of all authors who have been involved in the texts of the five chapters “Fundamentals”, “Structural”, “(De)Radicalisation”, “Communication”, and “Small Encyclopaedia of Islamism”.


On the editorial



In the “Fundamentals” chapter, we look at fundamental questions of definition. The first question to arise is: What does “Islamism” actually mean, and how is it distinguished from Islam? Besides fundamental questions regarding definition of the term and its classification in the history of ideas, certain aspects within the political ideology of Islamism are considered, too.


On the “Fundamentals” chapter



In the “Structural” chapter, we clarify the breath of the spectrum of Islamist groups. Key questions that will be illustrated in the portraits of individual groups and currents are as follows: How did they each come about? By what principles of faith are their actions guided? What are their goals and by what means do they pursue them? And what importance needs to be attached to them both nationally and internationally?


On the “Structural” chapter



The “(De)Radicalisation” chapter primarily deals with radicalisation processes of Islamists in Germany. The motives behind radicalisation can be political, religious, sociological or even psychological. Prevention approaches are also to be presented here: Which approaches are being pursued in Germany to prevent radicalisation? Currently, the German state and civil society are intensely preoccupied with questions of this kind.


On the “(De)Radicalisation” chapter



The “Communication” chapter will take a closer look at various communication channels that serve Islamists in order to achieve their goals and propagate their ideology. What role does the internet play especially in recruiting new Jihadists? How do network structures work in the Salafist scene within German borders? And what forms of communication and advertisement do Salafists use in the German public sphere?


On the “Communication” chapter

Small Encyclopaedia of Islamism


The “Small Encyclopaedia of Islam” explains terms that appear in Islamist linguistic usage time and again. They are mostly Arabic with religious origins, interpreted and instrumentalised by Islamists in a certain way; to justify violence for instance. Besides this, the most influential representatives of Islamist thought are portrayed – intellectuals as well as leaders of Islamist and terrorist organisations.


On the “Small Encyclopaedia of Islamism”


Publication projects

Democracy cannot be taken for granted. It needs to be lived, cultivated and, if necessary, actively defended – whether that be against Islamist tendencies or other dangers. In our publication projects, we deal with Islamist actors, networks and security situations in particularly endangered regions and discuss what effects this has on our democracy and to what extent German and European interests are affected and endangered.

“The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa”


The increasing threat of Islamic terrorism in West Africa prompted the Konrad Adenauer Foundation to initiate the project “The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa” together with the Counter Extremism Project. Within the framework of the project, we analyse the deteriorating security situation in the region in a total of twelve strategy papers and weekly social media reports and deal with general questions around the topics of security and counter-terrorism. The results of the analyses lead to concrete recommendations for action for German and European policy.


Learn more about “The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa”

Defensive Democracy


Russia’s attack on Ukraine has catapulted the question of the defensibility of democracy to the fore of public interest. Yet, tanks and rockets are not the only threat to our free society. Our democracy is exposed to many dangers, which are addressed in our book of essays and a major campaign.


Learn more about the topic “Defensive Democracy” or go directly to the essay collection “die wehrhafte(re) Demokratie” (The (More) Defensive Democracy).


Didactic offers

With our DigitalAkademie Pupil and Teacher Academies, we present pupils and teachers with a specific offer when it comes to preventing extremism online.



The digital world presents teachers and pupils with enormous challenges. While digitalisation harbours great potential for unusual learning methods, teaching concepts, and varied methods, the internet is also a space of uncertainty, fake news and seduction.

Especially on the internet, Islamists spread their ideas and views in various formats such as video messages and online magazines in different languages. Via social media and their own websites and blogs, they give the global public access to their thoughts. As part of our Pupil and Teacher Academies, we clarify extremist methods on the internet, help to identify extremism on the internet and give teachers the tools to confidently address incidents and experiences with extremism in the classroom. Here you will find a wide range of services in the field of extremism prevention, with which we not only warn against this kind of influence, but also raise general awareness of the issue.


Learn more about services offered by the DigitalAkademie


Working group

Since 2015, the Working Group Terrorism and Domestic Security has been an established forum at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung. It sees itself as a network for experts on these issues.

Working Group Terrorism and Domestic Security

The focus of the Working Group Terrorism and Domestic Security mainly lies on the threat of extremism and terrorism. Members of the Working Group regularly get together to exchange views on political developments and current problems and to work out solutions.


Learn more about the Working Group Terrorism and Domestic Security

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Felix Neumann

Felix Neumann

Counter-extremism and counter-terrorism +49 30 26996-3879
Single title
yellow too, Pasiek Horntrich GbR
December 18, 2021
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Facts and Findings
Mytho /
March 24, 2021
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The Political Opinion
November 25, 2020
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Publications, events and media contributions on the topic

Our contributions are as wide-ranging and multifaceted as the topic itself!

Whether it's an expert interview, specialist publication or hot debate - click through and you're guaranteed to find the right format for you!

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Publications to the topic

Illustration von Demonstrierenden Adobe Stock / Ulia

A New Cross-Front of Left-Wing Extremism and Islamism?

Anti-Imperialism and Postcolonialism as the Basis for Antisemitism

Coverbild West Africa’s Terrorist Challenge Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.

Interlinkage of terrorism and transnational organized crime in West Africa

Fourth Paper of the “The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa” project

Coverbild West Africa’s Terrorist Challenge Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.

Linkages of terrorist groups in West Africa with terrorist networks in other African regions

Third Paper of the “The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa” project

Coverbild West Africa’s Terrorist Challenge Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.

Status of ISWAP and ISGS in West Africa and Sahel

Second paper of the “The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa” project

Coverbild West Africa’s Terrorist Challenge Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.

Development of al-Qaeda in the Western Sahel region and current operational capabilities of JNIM

First paper of the “The Deteriorating Security Situation in West Africa” project

platzhalter12_graurotZfPGRK DPM

Wache Trittbrettfahrer

Gerechtigkeitsdebatten im Fokus von Islamismus und Autoritarismus

Jihadist Terrorism in Europe UK KALUZA + SCHMID Studio GmbH

Jihadism in the United Kingdom

A Threat Picture since the Fall of the Caliphate's Capitals

Header Jihadist Terrorism in Europe / Jihadism in France yellow too, Pasiek Horntrich GbR

Jihadism in France

The state of the Jihadist Terrorist threat in France

Radikalisierung und Extremismus – vom schwierigen Umgang mit roten Linien

Radikalisierung und Extremismus – vom schwierigen Umgang mit roten Linien

Handlungsempfehlungen für eine wehrhafte Demokratie

Teaser Dschihadisumus D EN yellow too, Pasiek Horntrich GbR

Jihadism in Germany

Weak beginnings, growing scene, new dangers

Dschihadismus in Belgien KAS/yellow too, Pasiek Horntrich GbR

Jihadism in Belgium

A country that has suffered badly and still needs to be vigilant

Thomas Haldenwang und Horst Seehofer reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

Einschätzung zum Verfassungsschutzbericht 2020

Die Gefahrenlage durch Extremisten jeglicher Couleur nimmt zu


Distanzierung plus Annäherung

Extremistische Gewalt als „islamisches Problem“, und was hat das mit Überlegenheitsvorstellungen zu tun?

Header_Islamistischer Terrorismus-EN.jpg KAS/yellow too, Pasiek Horntrich GbR

Jihadism in Austria

A dangerous scene with great ideological power

Streit um den (politischen) Islam Mytho /

Streit um den (politischen) Islam

Anmerkungen zu Begrifflichkeiten und Zuordnungen im Spannungsfeld zwischen Religion und Politik

Schüler im Stuhlkreis Monkey Business/AdobeStock

Konfrontative Religionsausübungen von muslimischen Schülerinnen und Schülern

Problemlagen und Handlungsmöglichkeiten

Frankreich hat ein Problem mit Islamismus Bertrand Guay / Getty Images

France has a problem with Islamism

Analysis on how conflicting narratives polarize political and cultural identities in France


Dschihadistischer Terror

Der lange Krieg ist nicht zu Ende Trawczynski;; pixabay Trawczynski;; pixabay

Verblüffende Ähnlichkeiten unter Gegnern

Gemeinsamkeiten zwischen Rechtsextremismus und Islamismus

Vorschaubild komargallery, iStock by Getty Images

What is the Muslim Brotherhood in the West?

Towards a commonly accepted framework

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Event Reports on the topic

Event Reports on the topic

Eine Lehrstunde in Sachen Meinungsfreiheit

Veranstaltungsbericht zum Gespräch mit Stephan J. Kramer am 22.06.

Marion Sendker im Gespräch mit Nauel Semaan

Terrorismus als Gefahr für unsere Gesellschaft – Strategien einer wehrhaften Demokratie

Eine Bilanz des 26. #HessenKAS Facebook-Live vom 17. August 2021

Prof. Dr. Stefan Goertz

Islamismus und islamistische Terrorismusgefahr in Deutschland

„Der Vorwurf der Islamophobie in Deutschland. Gerechtfertigte Kritik oder Blindheit vor der Terrorgef...

Online-Abendveranstaltung mit Prof. Susanne Schröter

Axel Heidrich

Extremismus in Brandenburg

Gefahren durch Rechtsextremis und Islamismus

Marian Wendt, MdB KAS

Die Zukunft der Extremismusprävention im digitalen Raum


17. Auflage der Ahauser Schlossrunde mit Wolfgang Bosbach

Radikalisierung verhindern, Alternativen finden

Wenn Jugendliche auf „Abwege“ geraten

Bessere Vernetzung der Sicherheitsbehörden notwendig

Drei Experten diskutieren in Berlin über Terrorismus durch NSU, IS und RAF

Politischer Extremismus im Internet

Aktiv für Demokratie und Toleranz – gegen Extremismus und Gewalt

Eine Bilanz der Frankfurter Tagung 1. November 2017

Europa auf dem Weg zur Sicherheitsunion

Wie die EU Terror bekämpft – und was sie von Australien lernen könnte

Der wehrhafte Rechtsstaat und seine Auseinandersetzung mit Rechtsextremismus, Linksextremismus und Is...

Extremismuskongress des Politischen Bildungsforums Sachsen-Anhalt der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.

"Terror wirkt wie Rost, der sich auf die Gesellschaft legt"

„Wir wollen Taten sehen“

S.E. Adel al-Jubeir, Außenminister Saudi-Arabiens, über die saudischen Beziehungen zu Katar, Iran – und den USA

Islamistischer Terrorismus im Wandel

Warum al-Qaida derzeit unterschätzt wird und was den IS bedrohlicher macht

Sicherheit in Zeiten des internationalen Terrorismus

Herausforderung für Staat und Gesellschaft

Der Preis der Sicherheit

Steinfurter Gespräch mit Dr. Hans-Georg Maaßen, Präsident des Bundesamtes für Verfassungsschutz

Orientierung, Hoffnung und Radikalität

Erfahrungsbericht eines ehemaligen Salafisten

Integration 2017 - Eine Bilanz I

Wo stehen wir heute und wo wollen wir hin?

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