The Islamic State: The Rise of Vigilante Justice

  • Mbaye Lo
Part of the Political Economy of Islam book series (PEoI)


This chapter examines the Islamic State as a case study of militant Islam’s vigilante justice. Its military and ideological actions embody vigilante justice at work. The word “justice” and its surrogate terms such as revenge, irhaab (terrorism), endurance, and terror are key markers of the organization’s political and theological vocabulary. From the inaugural speech of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on June 29, 2014, to the hymn of its foot soldiers conquering new territories, the echo of vengeful justice rings loud. This chapter also examines the rationale and the articulation of many aspects of the organization’s vision of vigilante justice, including vengeance, gruesome violence, and the blatant rejection of political freedom. Specific elements under consideration include the organization’s brand of violence, its politics of legitimizing al-Baghdadi’s leadership, and the emphasis on the caliphate through forceful bay’a (a pledge of allegiance) instead of invoking free will in pledging allegiance to the emir.

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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mbaye Lo
    • 1
  1. 1.Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, International Comparative Studies and Duke Islamic Studies CenterDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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