The Essentialist Terrorist

42 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2006


There is a coordianted effort on part of academics, scholars, think-tankers, journalists and others to create a profle of Muslim militants as essentialist terrorists who commit heartless violence because they are spiritually addicted to violence. These authors argue that no concrete grievances or violations of rights cause Muslim militancy. Free to trash the core beliefs of Islam and free to make fun of Islamic creeds, the Highly influential Terrorist Literature (HITLit) has successfully equated puritan Islam with terrorism. Most HITLit authors, known as terrorism experts, are research associates with influential think tanks such as RAND and the American Enterprise Institute, and some teach at Harvard University. Some have worked for the National Security Council and the U.S. Defense Department. These authors include Bernard Lewis, Bruce Hoffman, Steven Simon, Jessica Stern, Daniel Benjamin, and Richard Perle. They appear on National Public Radio and major radio and television networks to comment on terrorist events and disseminate their views to the general public. The HITLit themes of the essentialist terrorist are further disseminated through the views of collaborating journalists such as Thomas Friedman, Charles Krauthammer, David Brooks, and William Kristol. This Article argues that the HITLit theories splash distortions that lead to lawlessness.

Keywords: terrorism, Islam, puritan Islam, misinformation

JEL Classification: K19, K33, K42

Suggested Citation

Khan, Ali, The Essentialist Terrorist. Washburn Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 47, Fall 2005. Available at SSRN:

Ali Khan (Contact Author)

Legal Scholar Academy ( email )

Topeka, KS 66610
United States


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