The United States government, along with the intelligence community and military, is currently preoccupied with several major conflicts: Israel-Hamas, Russia-Ukraine, and China-Taiwan. Additionally, resources must be directed towards addressing the ongoing, direct threats to the US emanating from China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea. Yet amid renewed challenges to the United States by state actors, Islamic extremism is resurging and cannot go unignored. 

While Americans are weary of  more potential conflict, the reemergence of Islamic extremism presents a significant threat to people around the world, Christians in particular. Reinhold Niebuhr, a prominent figure in Christian Realism, emphasized the importance of addressing evil and injustice with a thoughtful understanding of human nature and power dynamics. Just as Niebuhr warned the world about the dangers of Nazi ideology before World War II, these attacks should serve as a sobering warning for the future. Drawing on Niebuhr’s insights, Christians must urgently engage with lawmakers to address the growing danger of Islamic terrorist attacks targeting their communities. 

Over the past several months, Islamic extremist groups have conducted attacks across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Since the start of this year, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has carried out separate attacks in Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Africa. Additionally, Boko Haram has resurfaced. In Nigeria, a hundred inmates, including Boko Haram members, escaped from a prison. 

In Somalia, the Jihadist group Al-Shabab has resurfaced in the headlines. In February, the group targeted a UAE military base, attributing the attack to the Emirates’ support of the Somali government. On the evening of March 14th, al-Shabab struck the Syl Hotel in Mogadishu, injuring 27 people and claiming the lives of three soldiers and three members of parliament. Affiliated with al-Qaeda, al-Shabab controls significant portions of southern and central Somalia and has persistently carried out attacks, culminating in the Syl Hotel massacre. In a similar incident in 2022, the group claimed the lives of 14 individuals in an assault on Mogadishu’s Villa Rays hotel. In response to the escalating threat posed by Al-Shabab, the international community lifted an arms embargo on Somalia late last year. 

The Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) claimed responsibility for a March attack on Moscow’s Crocus City Hall concert venue, resulting in 143 deaths. This ISIS faction is active in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran and is believed to be planning its expansion into Europe and beyond. 

In late April, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) launched an attack on a mosque in Herat, Afghanistan, resulting in the deaths of six individuals. The targeted mosque belonged to the country’s Shia minority. In addition to its hostility towards Christians and Jews, ISIS is also engages in conflict with other terrorist groups. Despite the Taliban’s pledge to expel ISIS from Afghanistan, they have thus far been unsuccessful. Presently, various factions of ISIS are carrying out attacks across three continents. 

Fighting erupted last October between Boko Haram’s JAS faction (Jama’atu Ahlis-Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad) and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in Nigeria. In 2015, Boko Haram pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) and transformed into ISWAP. However, a dispute in 2016 led to its fragmentation into two factions. ISWAP continued under a new leader chosen by IS, while Boko Haram reorganized under its original leader. In recent clashes, Boko Haram JAS fighters expelled ISWAP fighters from their island strongholds in the Lake Chad area. Both Boko Haram and ISWAP remain significant threats to the Nigerian government and Christians, targeting churches, Christian communities, and individuals.  

In January 2024, ISWAP carried out an attack near the Nigerian capital of Abuja, resulting in the deaths of four Christians. Additionally, due to ISIS viewing Shia Muslims as heretics, they also target Iran. In the first week of this year, Islamic State suicide bombers killed nearly 100 people gathered at a memorial to Qassem Soleimani in Iran. While this situation doesn’t directly endanger Americans, it will exacerbate the security landscape in the Middle East, leading to heightened violence. 

Beyond the Middle East, attacks against Christians are rising in Africa, Asia, and even Europe. In June last year, at least 42 people were murdered when an Islamic State-linked terror group attacked a Christian school in Uganda. In December, four Catholics lost their lives and 45 were wounded when bombs exploded during a mass in the gymnasium of a university in the Philippines; ISIL claimed responsibility. In Nigeria, 200 Christians were killed in Christmas massacres.  

In the first two weeks of this year, IS claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Mozambique that resulted in the deaths of 10 Christians. In Burkina Faso, 15 Catholics were killed when gunmen opened fire during mass. ISIS gunmen also attacked a Christian church in Istanbul, leaving one man dead. An ISIS statement cited the attack as a response to its global call to target Jews and Christians. Regrettably, Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, is unlikely to take steps to protect Christians as President Erdoğan expressed support for Hamas, characterizing it as a legitimate independence movement.  

Terrorism continues even when attention wanes or conflicts dominate headlines elsewhere. It’s crucial for Christian realists to continue highlighting the seriousness of these threats, even if public interest dwindles. Reinhold Niebuhr’s early warnings about the Nazis, long before they were widely acknowledged as a major threat, offer a pertinent parallel. Niebuhr’s emphasis on moral responsibility encourages Christians to take proactive steps. His call for “the grace to change with courage what must be altered” is a poignant reminder to urge lawmakers to enhance security measures and to stop the proliferation of terrorism around the world.