Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 May 2021
Chapter 6 examines what accounts for Tawhid’s involvement in high-level, seemingly ideological violence in 1983 against Tripoli’s leftist movements and Christians. It acknowledges the causal role of ideology in this exercise of violence, mainly through the activism of a handful of highly ideologized Tawhid cadres who lobbied the leaders to engage in militant Islamist behaviour and exacerbated a climate of ideological polarization. But it also notes that, in spite of their increasing success in steering the movement’s behaviour in ideologically driven ways, these figures were a minority. Instead, the chapter finds that many of the rest of Tawhid’s members and leaders were not primarily guided by ideology in their exercise of violence, but rather by considerations of a primarily political, strategic, geopolitical and social nature. The heterogeneity of motivations which had led Tawhid to engage in violence became evident as the dynamics of conflict exposed too much variation across space and time to be solely guided by ideology. And, in a show of how the movement’s internal diversity could affect its behaviour, Tawhid would eventually be penetrated by criminals who steered its behaviour and exercise of violence in a direction at odds with its Islamist ideology.
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