This contribution explores the changing nature of the relationship between religion and violence in Morocco, Mali, and Mauritania between 1899 and 2003. These three countries share many cultural, social and religious similarities, while one of them is a long tradition of jihadi movements and Islamic resistance. The main question of the research is if that the nature of violence perpetrated by religiously motivated groups or individuals changed during the past hundred years. Analysis of historical sources, such as reports, newspapers and books and comparative approach in the study of rhetorics of different jihadi leaders resulted in the identification of motivations of different actors and observation of a radical shift in perpetrators of the violence. While at the beginning of the century violent jihad was a mere attempt to unite populations of the region in a common cause and therefore religion was a tool of violent movements, at the end of the century, violence became a tool of anti-system religious groups. The paper will conclude that the relation of violence and Islam has a profoundly changing nature, and is always influenced by external conditions and implications and cannot be associated with one Islamic stream while excluding others. The changing nature of violent religious behavior in the region will be presented in the broader context of regional and international development.