Violence is not the only means by which Islamist groups and individuals hope to expand Islamic influence, establish Islamic governments, and eventually restore the caliphate. In addition to the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, many non-violent, legal groups either overtly or covertly share those aims. “Are they violent or not?” should not be the main question while analyzing Islamist groups or governments. “What is their aim?” is the better question if we are to understand them and take effective precautions. Methods might vary, but the establishment of Islamic rule is the ultimate goal of Islamist ideology.
Turkey – notwithstanding its official denials – has shown itself extremely reluctant to designate the Islamic State (ISIS) a terrorist organization, and that reluctance has hampered efforts to bring ISIS suspects to justice. Ankara has frozen the assets of ISIS but continues to stop short of officially labeling it a terrorist group. In view of the fact that ISIS has used Turkish territory as a transit route into Syria and Iraq and has placed sleeper cells in dozens of Turkish cities, Ankara would be well advised to designate the group a terrorist organization.