Criteria For The Identification Of Belonging To Terrorist Organizations


The problem of forensic theological analysis is a set of questions a theologian may or may not answer. Along with a purely religious information materials provided for analysis may include the information that being closely related to the religious, in fact, represents a part of political science, history, linguistics, psychology, etc. In this case, the theologian should be careful picking up the questions which they may or may not be asked by any of the by investigation. For example, questions about the methods of the impact of ritual practice on human behavior are in the field of psychological examination. Questions about the signs of involvement in the activities of an organization or a group are the sphere of linguistic analysis. When theologians face such questions during the examination, they cooperate with experts in other scientific fields. In this case, the examination becomes complex. Often, complexity is associated with different types of content, large volume and different types of carriers of the materials studied. This makes the results of analysis multilayered, which increases experts’ responsibility in drawing general conclusions. We will consider the features of the forensic analysis on the example of the organization that actually is a conveyor belt for terrorists – an international terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) (which by decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation dated February 14, 2003. No. SCFI (State College of First Instance) 03-116 was recognized as a terrorist organization and prohibited in Russia).

Keywords: Cultureextremismforensic analysisreligion


Let us begin with common features characterizing a number of Muslim associations. Claims to true understanding of Islam, willingness to seek the basics of the religion, cleansing Islam and Muslim community of innovations, as well as a wish to convince in their truth during the recruitment is one of the main activity lines for a wide range of extremist and terroristic organizations operating in Russia and the world. Vivid examples of such organizations are Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) (Baran, 2004), the Islamic State (Zhade, Ilyinova, Karabulatova, & Lyausheva, 2018), Tablighi Jamaat (Zhukov, 2010), the Caucasus Emirate (Kochoi, 2015) and Takfir wal-Hijra (Izluchenko, 2017) (the activity of the organizations mentioned is prohibited on the territory of the Russian Federation as terrorist and extremist) and others.

There is nothing unusual, no usage of Newspeak, in the ideology of these Muslim associations, parties and organizations. It is the focus on the usage of common Islamic terms that justifies the fact that their literature and video materials have no sedition message. At the same time, they point out their undoubted belonging to Hanafi madhhab within Sunni Islam. “Aqidah”, “dagvat”, “qada and qadar”, “rizq”, “fiqh”, “fiqr”, “ajjal”, “caliphate” and, finally, “jihad” – a small list of concepts and components of Muslim theology that are the subject of ongoing discussion in the literature and at meetings of these groups and organizations. Except for Tablighi Jamaat other organizations’ aim is to revive Islamic theocracy based on Sharia form of government called the Caliphate or the Islamic State. This became the basis for the rejection of capitalism, socialism, communism as secular ideologies contrary to Islam. All these organizations have been criticizing modern Muslims for their inattention to and oblivion of the true foundations of the religion and the Sharia way of life. The states of Europe (including Turkey and Russia), China, the USA and Israel and their governments are seen as hostile to true Muslims. According to the ideologists of these organizations and groups, North African, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and other countries where Muslims dominate are controlled by civil, military and economic elites who are agents of the West.

Our research will focus on the international terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (the Islamic Liberation Party) founded by an Arab theologian Taqiuddin al-Nabhani (Taqiuddin Nabhani) in 1953 (Ranchinskij, 2017).

Problem Statement

The main goal of the expert study is, most often, the answer to the question: “Do the materials presented have direct or indirect indications to the fact that they belong to the international terrorist organization “Islamic Liberation Party” (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami)?”. Materials can be characterized according to one or several criteria: 1) authorship to the ideologist and founder of this party Taqiuddin al-Nabhani, his followers Abd al-Qadeem Zallum, Ata Ibn Khalil Abu Rashta and other members of this organization, or positive reviews, quotes and references to these authors’ works (direct evidences of belonging); 2) the organization’s ownership of the publications, a positive description of its activity, detailed coverage of various aspects of its history and present activity (direct evidences); 3) a set of the main provisions of the organization’s ideology and practical goals of the activity being considered in the texts of the periodicals.

Research Questions

Consideration of the criteria according to which the belonging of the text, audio and video materials are defined is the subject of this study.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the study is to identify and consider the author’s, theological, expert’s opinion on the criteria of belonging of the materials under forensic analysis to the international terrorist organization Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami).

Research Methods

During the forensic analyses, the following set of general scientific methods and approaches are used.

1. A systematic approach, that is, a study of objects as a system, a set of elements that are in relation and connection with each other, which forms certain integrity, unity. This method is especially important in identifying indirect signs that the materials under study belong to the organization in question allowing to see the general set of religious ideologemes, recruitment methods, characteristic clichés (verbal clichés), etc. The connections of various parts of the audio, visual and textual materials of the religious system built by this religious organization are revealed.

2. Generalization allows making a mental transition from a set of individual facts found in the materials under analysis to their logical generalization based on the discovery of specific features associated specifically with the organization under investigation.

3. The typological method involves the grouping of religious ideologemes, recruitment methods, characteristic clichés (verbal clichés), etc. used in analyzed texts, audio and video materials, which allows seeing their commonality.

4. The phenomenological method is necessary in clarifying meaning of the materials under study in the interaction between people (primarily, during the recruitment of new followers - ziyarats, teaching ideology and the basics of the activity, and the activity of the members of the organization - shababs (hizbijs). Practical and ideological motives, views, ideas, goals of active individuals are identified and correlated.

5. The structural-functional method allows identifying the elements of religious ideology which are correlated with other elements (practical activity), the mutual influence of these elements is revealed.

The research is as follows:

1. Study of the represented materials;

2. Selection of statements that meet the characteristics set in questions to the expert;

3. Thorough material analysis;

4. Identification of components characterized by similar content.


Considering the social system, hizb (the abbreviated name of this organization used by its members) is based on the notion that supremacy belongs to Allah, who gives power on the Earth to the people electing the caliph who rules according to Sharia. Life outside the Caliphate is jahiliyyah (ignorance, paganism). The revival of the Caliphate in territories where Muslims are predominant will make it possible to declare jihad (armed struggle against opponents of Islam), including that against the governments of all Muslim states none of which follows Islam in full. Towards this a hizb is to pass through three steps:

1) creation of the party and acquaintance of particular members of the society with its ideas and methods;

2) wide dissemination of the party’s ideas (enlightenment) in the Ummah, as well as among the “power holders” (military and government officials);

3) coming to power, the full implementation of the laws of Islam in real life and spreading them around the world (if armed confrontation is needed, the Amir will declare jihad and a hizb will take the lead) (Abdullaev, 2016).

On the experience of the expert research related to the analysis of literature (especially such periodicals of this organization as “Caliphate” and “Al-Wayi”), video and other materials, it can be argued that the Middle East has already come to the transition to the third stage.

Let us consider the structural organization of the international terrorist organization Islamic Liberation Party (Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami). The party’s basic territorial unit is khalaqat. Its activity is connected with direct work with members of the organization, their various activities, training of Daris (novices, who have not yet taken the oath) and involvement (ziyarat) (Merkurjev, 2013). “Khalaqats are one of the most important hizb’s affairs. It is necessary to pay great attention to them since they provide intensive enlightenment.”

The duty of a shabab is to promote the ideas of the party, disseminate them in all possible ways. “Delivering of these thoughts, laws and views to people is done in the following ways: 1) personal connection with individuals of the Ummah, so that these thoughts, laws and views are clearly crystallized for them so that they become aware of them and strive to accept them; 2) a deliberate focus on individuals who have influence and authority, from among the leaders, powerful people: politicians, deputies, figures, nobles, intellectuals, sheikhs of families, the intent to involve them in the hizb and win their loyalty to its ideas; 3) all kinds of connections with the masses, such as lessons in mosques, khutbahs in government agencies, at meetings and in crowded places, not just to make them know and train them, but to gather people and make the Ummah the bearer of these thoughts, laws and views, accepting them as their own ones; 4) distribution of leaflets, announcements, publications in newspapers and magazines as wide as possible.”

Mahalij jihaz is a territorial-administrative body governing the activity of khalaqats (party units) and shababs (party members). “Mahalli jihaz gives people thoughts, laws and views after supplying shababs with them for analysis, so that shababs, after studying them, understanding and realizing their validity, present those to people.”

The hierarchy of the organization includes the following levels: mutamad (the main leader within one state), masul (the head of the regional organization), musoid (masul's assistant), naqib (district leader), naqib yerdamchisi (naqib’s assistant), mushrif (leader of one or several training groups, khalaqats), ​​shabab (hizbij, a person who had already taken the ideology and became a full member of the organization), doris (novice). The structural basis of this party begins with khalaqats, basic party units (a few people), where, on the basis of various materials, the ideology and forms of the organization’s activity are studied. For conspiratorial purposes, only mushrif knows the members of other party units. Before taking an oath of allegiance to the party new members take a 2-year course of training and study the literature of the party. Once a month, a meeting of mushrifs (mahalij jihaz) takes place, during which practical and organizational issues are discussed. A naqib gives literature and manages finances.

Islam, for this organization, is, first of all, a political ideology (Egorov, 2017). “Without politics, there is no development, movement, and society is like a dead body.” “Since the ability of mature individuals to reflect does not bring much benefit, the Ummah needs political enlightenment ... Reflections on political sciences and articles are allowed, although they are used exclusively by political scientists, but for the Ummah, reflecting on real events is fard-kifaya.” “Islamic doctrine, in addition to its essence as a spiritual doctrine, is a political one. It forms a system for a person in his life, society and state ... Islam has put this state in order, established laws in the field of government, economy, described the education system, domestic policy ... Almighty Allah forbade ... to accept ... all laws except Allah’s Sharia”.

An important cliche is the following statement: “The importance of leadership in all spheres of life and the actions of Muslims by Sharia.” “You cannot give your mind the right to determine what the benefit is. On the contrary, it is necessary (wajib) that this should be determined by Sharia only, because it is Sharia that determines the true benefit and true harm.”

The Hizb’s ideology suggests that only in the Caliphate it is possible to fully implement Islam and the Islamic way of life based on the only true principles that Islam gives. “For 12 centuries, from the 7th century to the second half of the 18th century, the Islamic state remained the most powerful and leading state in the whole world. Throughout this period, the Islamic state remained the only blossoming flower in this world representing a shining sun among all nations and peoples. All this confirms the triumph of this ideological leadership and the success of Islam in the practice and implementation of its aqidah and its system over people. "

Another example of an ideological cliché is a need for organized activity of Muslims on the way to the Caliphate, on the basis of party unity. “Fard kifaya is creation of a party that calls for the Sharia-approved and forbids Sharia-censured, a voluntary jihad, the oath to choose the caliph.”

There is a high efficiency of recruiting in the network which reduces the time for preparing events and actions, allows to recruit new members and disseminate information about themselves staying almost invisible (Kurbanov & Ryazanov, 2015). It also makes it possible to strengthen the conspiratorial nature and secrecy from harassment by the authorities.

The members of the abovementioned organization, conducting provocative and illegal actions, cover and discuss them actively on the Internet, not only among themselves, but also in forums, blogs, YouTube, Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki. At the same time, their actions may look as having a completely non-extremist character, aimed at “Islamic education”, the promotion of Muslim values, the spread of the Koran. Such actions are not defined as hizb’s ones which is associated with camouflage and the creation of a “positive” image which is important when involving ziyarats.

The initial stage is a ziyarat (conversation with Muslims to find out and create sympathy for the ideology of the organization and identify people who have shown sympathy for the ideology of the extremist organization) when in mosques, on visits, in educational institutions, etc. the members of the organization have suggestive conversations figuring out the attitude to the religion and some provisions of the concept; meanwhile, the recruitee is not informed on whose behalf the recruiter acts. There can be several meetings with ziyarats until shabab and musharif (a member of the organization who gave the oath-bayah) are convinced that the recruited person is reliable. Ziyarats are held in apartments like tea parties or just friendly meetings on the occasion of a Muslim holiday, on picnics, in mosques, etc.

Hizbij has a methodological “weapon” in the form of a “Set of Literature for Ziyarat” which he uses for his own preparation for recruitment events, as well as for “enlightenment” of the recruited person.

During the whole process of brainwashing of the ziyarat, the hizbij reports to the musharif to get recommendations from him. They discuss the plan of recruitment, actions concerning a particular ziyarat identifying his personal preferences, profession and other individual characteristics.

When ready to get acquainted with the organization, the ziyarat is invited to a meeting of the party unit where he is informed on whose behalf the recruiter acted and is introduced to the members of the party unit. Then the person gets informed about the following meetings held in safe houses where he later becomes a daris.

The main activity of a daris is to study the organization’s ideology based on numerous literature, audio and video materials, participate in ongoing events and involve new members. At the same time, there is an active discussion on current problems of the socio-economic and political situation in Russia and in the world from the perspective of the organization’s ideology. At such meetings they study hizb’s literature sources, literally drum the organization’s ideology into the heads, carry out organizational work, estimate the level of activity and take measures to stimulate it, make promises to achieve the organization’s goals soon and to participate in the government of the revived Caliphate. Moreover, at these meetings they get acquainted with leaflets and oral recommendations on the basics of conspiracy. For example, it is recommended to buy the simplest mobile phones (as it is unlikely to be tapped), use it only to communicate with the members of the party unit and buy “burner” SIM cards. In addition, they teach (on the basis of leaflets and proclamations) how to communicate with ziyarats and employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the FSB (FSS). They also explain the rules of visiting of safe houses.

Finally, to join the organization’s activities it is necessary to participate in meetings and conferences. Some conferences (most often the topic is the revival of the Caliphate) are open (in countries where organization’s activity is permitted) or under the cover. In the territory of the Republic of Bashkortostan, for instance, a similar conference lasted several hours, however, the name of the organization on the video was mentioned only twice and the website appeared once. And those references were used as examples confirming that the organization in question is involved in solving any of the problems discussed. A “random” participant or ziyarat may not understand who exactly the organizer of such events is.

Daris who has come a long way of studying and actively participating in the organization’s activities after taking an oath of allegiance to the organization is introduced to hizbijs or shababs. Hizbij is already an independent person in the recruitment process with a high level of responsibility to the organization.

It should also be noted that for a number of periodicals that regularly publish positively directed materials on the activity of a terrorist organization, it is typical to have a standard way of designing them according to which they can be defined as documents of this organization. In case there is no reference to the authorship of the ideologists and members of the organizations or the party-owned periodicals, the authorship is considered indirect. However, based on expert experience, the study of the materials of this organization directly related to it, knowledge of ideologemes, provided they are repeated many times, allows to correlate the studied texts and videos with the international terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party).Often, you may come across the materials which contain retelling, commenting and discussion of some parts of the organization’s publications included in the federal list of extremist materials. Moreover, during conversations and other events, it is indicated that one should pray (make a dua) for those who are in prison. Thus, materials under study showed references to the names of the members of the organization in question who are in places of detention.

Based on the experience of the expert research, it is possible to find out the way public and private meetings are held (even if they are silent on party affiliation), and the reference to the hierarchical features of this organization also makes it possible to correlate the materials studied with the international terrorist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party).


High and growing conspiracy experience, active denial of violent methods of the activity by the organization members, though having obvious signs of transition to the third stage (which involves jihad) makes the expert opinion on this organization a very complex and time-consuming process. This terrorist organization shows high degree of activity in almost all countries of the world where Muslim population dominates, in West countries, the former USSR (Sukhov, 2006) and Russia (Akhmadullin, 2015). This organization is really global (Rabbimov, 2004). Mass events (“conferences” on topics relevant to the organization (primarily the revival of the Caliphate), active and mass recruitment of new followers, intransigence towards all infidels (kafirs) and Muslims who are not striving for the goals of the organization, hatred for all ruling regimes, ideologies and points of view – all this makes this organization one of the most dangerous (Yarlykapov, 2013).


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Cite this article as:

Urazmetov, T. (2020). Criteria For The Identification Of Belonging To Terrorist Organizations. In I. Murzina (Ed.), Humanistic Practice in Education in a Postmodern Age, vol 93. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 918-925). European Publisher.