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

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.

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

Kleines Lexikon des Islamismus


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. Our publication project on “Defensive Democracy” is devoted to the protection of our democracy, and illustrates topics such as extremism, radicalisation or populism, to name a few.

Defensive Democracy

Illustration des Reichstagsgebäudes shutterstock/Carabus • Karl-Michael Constien und racken GmbH, Berlin • yellow too, Pasiek Horntrich GbR


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.


DigitalAkademie Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e. V.


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


Felix Neumann

Felix Neumann

Counter-extremism and counter-terrorism

felix.neumann@kas.de +49 30 26996-3879
Single title
yellow too, Pasiek Horntrich GbR
December 18, 2021
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Facts and Findings
Mytho / stock.adobe.com
March 24, 2021
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The Political Opinion
November 25, 2020
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Publications to the topic

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
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 / stock.adobe.com
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
 iStock.com/Marek Trawczynski; iStock.com/jpa1999; pixabay iStock.com/Marek Trawczynski; iStock.com/jpa1999; 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
Online-Radicalisation: Myth or Reality?
Mythos oder Realität?
Myanmar – neue Brutstätte für Terrornetzwerke?
Die "Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army" (ARSA) im Fokus
Deutschland nach dem „Islamischen Staat”
Entwicklungen, Auswirkungen, Handlungsempfehlungen
Ominous Alliances
On the Correlation between Weak Statehood, International Cocaine Trading and Islamist Terrorism in West Africa
Für ein anlassbezogenes Burka-Verbot
Religionsfreiheit und Integrationsnotwendigkeit gleichermaßen gerecht werden
„Aufklärung“ des Islams?!

Events on the topic



Denktag: Leben mit Auschwitz
Zum internationalen Denktag sprechen wir mit Andrea von Treuenfeld, Dr. Olaf Glöckner und Jevgeni Kutikov über die Aufarbeitung des Holocausts und jüdisches Leben in Deutschland.

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 kas.de
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?

Media library

#KASkonkret, Folge 29
Wenn Gläubige morden – Terrorismus, Islamismus und Islam (Zusammenschnitt)
Ahmed Mansour ist deutsch-israelischer Psychologe und Autor. Bei #KASkonkret sprach er über Erfahrungen mit Islamisten, liberale Muslime und verunsicherte Lehrer.
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#KASkonkret, Folge 29
Wenn Gläubige morden – Terrorismus, Islamismus und Islam (kompletter Mitschnitt)
Ahmad Mansour, arabisch-muslimischer Israeli, deutscher Staatsbürger und Psychologe sprach bei #KASkonkret u. a. über muslimischen Glauben als Motiv des Tötens.
read now
Jugendpolitiktag 2018
Was zeichnet islamistischen Extremismus aus?
Der Extremismusforscher Dr. Rudolf van Hüllen klärt im Rahmen des Jugendpolitiktages 2018 „Für Demokratie - Gegen Extremismus“ über typische Merkmale des Islamismus auf.
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