Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 May 2021
Chapter 4 investigates why, despite a grand ideology which in theory had the potential to resonate in Lebanon’s entire Sunni Islamist constituency, Tawhid’s membership remained overwhelmingly confined to Tripoli. This, it is argued, partially stemmed from the highly fluid and heterogeneous nature of its militant Islamist ideology, which, beyond reflecting the commitment of some members, resulted from the fact that it fulfilled functions. These included outbidding rivals, strengthening internal cohesion and activating bonds of ideological solidarity with like-minded foreign actors to solicit their support. The fluid nature of Tawhid’s ideology, which drew on disparate Sunni but also Shia Islamist references, contributed to restricting its appeal among Lebanon’s more orthodox Sunni Islamists. Yet this chapter notes another factor which limited the appeal of Tawhid outside of Tripoli: the sense that its Islamist discourse was deeply embedded in local identities and narratives. And, while it partially traces this to a movement strategy to recruit locally, it suggests that it also resulted from its own internalized rootedness, which led non-Tripolitan Lebanese Islamists to conclude that Tawhid was more of a Tripolitan than an Islamist movement.
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