A terrorist is loosely defined as a person who acts without sovereignty to cause violence against the public in the name of personally held aims. Be it in the name of religion or patriotism, terrorist groups strive to be heard through means of mass murder and fear—but which are the largest and most dangerous today? Here’s our top-10.
1. IS/ISIS/ISIL: By whichever name you use, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Syria is so notoriously evil they were even denounced by Al-Qaeda. Founded by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS enforces sharia law and is based on the belief that its members will create a paradise by capturing certain regions of the world. Anyone anywhere is encouraged to join, and the group is equally not above using any means to fund itself, including human trafficking and the selling of valuable artifacts. They have claimed responsibility for terrorist attacks around the world, including the November 2015 attacks in Paris.
2. Al-Qaeda: Founded by Abdullah Azzam, Osama Bin Laden, and others, the aim of this terrorist group is to unite all Muslims around the world and impose sharia law. Suicide missions are the most common operations organized by the group, which played a part in organizing 9/11 as well as the US embassy bombings in 1998. Although Bin Laden was killed in 2011, the group remains one of the deadliest, most dangerous, and organized terror organizations in the world.
3. Taliban: Through extortion, human trafficking, and drug trade, the Afghanistan-based Taliban raises nearly $400 million a year to support its terror efforts. The aim of the group is to enforce sharia law and Islamic government in Afghanistan, and to remove foreign forces from the country.
4. Al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra: A jihadist terrorist group based in Syria, Al-Nusra is fighting Syrian government forces to bring sharia law and Islamic law to the country. Earlier this year, the group merged with four other terror groups to form Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, “Organization for the Liberation of the Levant.”
5. Lashkar-e-Toba: Most notorious for carrying out the brutal November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, the group is committed to bringing Islamic law to Southern Asia. The group is also known for using children in their terror activities.
6. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan: Formed by Baitullah Mehsud in 2007, this organization operates along the Pakistan-Afghan border. It is actually comprised of several groups, and its goal is to bring down the Pakistani government.
7. Boko Haram: A militant Islamist group in Nigeria, the group had been known to receive funding from Al-Qaeda but more recently has formed an alliance with ISIS. The literal meaning of the group is “western education is a sin,” and the group is most notorious for the kidnapping of 200 Nigerian girls.
8. Al-Shabab: A jihadist fundamentalist group in East Africa, the group swore allegiance to Al-Qaeda in 2012, but quarreling between the group’s leaders weakened the alliance. The group’s aim is to wage jihadist war against any enemies of Islam, and to overthrow the government of Somalia.
9. Hezbollah: Based in Lebanon, Hezbollah is a Shi’a Islamist militant group and political entity. Founded as a response to the invasion of Souther Lebanon by Israel in 1982, the group regards Israel as an oppressive military force that occupied Lebanon until 2000.
10. Hamas: Hamas, or “Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia,” is a Palestinian-based terrorist group first established in 1987 as part of the Muslim Brotherhood. The group strives to carry out jihad against Israel, and are supported by Hezbollah.