At the 2015 Summer Objectivist Conference Elan Journo, author of Winning the Unwinnable War, presented a talk on the jihadist movement. While he touches on the material strength and successes they have had, e.g. attacks in Paris, Copenhagen and Garland as well as the spread of ISIS, the main emphasis was on what provides the moral strength of the movement. As he states early in the talk:
But more significant than all those material gains and measures of its strength is the moral strength. In the sense of having the morale, the confidence, the ambition and belief that they can win. That is incredibly important in understanding the jihadist movement and it is one of the points that I want to emphasize today and help you understand. Because this is the crux. It is what draws people in and keeps people going, the belief that they can succeed.
In exploring this topic, he goes back to the beginning of the modern islamist/jihadist movement and Sayyid Qutb, one of the early ideological leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. Qutb looked at the poverty, backwardness and oppression of Muslim Arabs in the early 20th century and blamed these conditions on a lack of piety. His solution to these problems has set the fundamental goal of the jihadist movement ever since.
Elan presents the case that if you fail to grasp the nature of this goal, you are unable to properly think about and evaluate the often conflicting events that take place. Conversely, once you understand what the fundamental goal is you are able to properly connect these disparate events and refute the common (false) explanations that are given for the spread of the jihadist movement. He goes into detail on three of these: Palestinian question, lack of opportunity and response to American foreign policy.
He concludes the main talk with the following:
So what I hoped to show you and impress upon you is that when you understand the central goal that this movement is seeking, it clarifies a lot of things. It explains how they operate, why they do what they do, why they carry out the kinds of attacks that they do, and how they attract people and what makes those people believe that their actions are necessary. This is a movement that is shaped and animated by a religious goal of subjugation and that implies conquest. It implies boundless conquest.
There is a roughly 25 minute Q&A period following the one hour talk.