SALAFIS IN LEBANON: EXAMINING THE ROLE OF EXTERNAL FINANCING ON THEIR ALLIANCES AND ACTIONS
El Chamieh, Jamal
Hafez, Mohammed M.
Robinson, Glenn E.
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What role do state and non-state sponsors play in the decision-making process of Lebanese Salafi groups? This thesis examines the ideologies of various Lebanese Islamist groups in relation to those of their declared and clandestine sponsors to find out whether these groups diverted from their core ideological principles because of external sponsor pressure. The examination presents a case study of North Lebanon and Tripoli, in particular, based on media reports and publicly available government documents as well as scholarly research in both the English and Arabic languages to offer a complete, accurate, and unbiased view. After providing an overview of the historical roots of Salafism, the thesis examines the groups’ respective ideologies, structures, leadership, and sources of funding. Finally, the thesis compares the impact of those financial sources on the examined areas. A main finding is that all but one of the examined groups are driven by the influence of money; they shifted their respective ideologies in order to meet the interests of their state sponsors. Although ideological considerations are important for Salafi groups in Lebanon, the interests of external sponsors are often prioritized above local political preferences. A policy implication of this analysis is that analyzing external sponsor preferences is potentially predictive of the conduct of Lebanese Salafis.
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