ISIS: The Terrorist Group That Would Be a State

ISIS: The Terrorist Group That Would Be a State
ISIS: The Terrorist Group That Would Be a State
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This Irregular Warfare Studies case study, drawn extensively from primary source materials, is among the most comprehensive works to describe the ISIS group’s methodologies and to help explain its surprisingly rapid rise and control over a large state-like territory. Although ISIS has lost its physical territory in Iraq since 2015, it has continued to gain adher­ents in other theaters of operation. Author Michael W.S. Ryan warns: “History has shown that we should expect the ISIS/al Qaeda phenomenon to reconstitute itself under a new name and new leadership in the event we manage to destroy its current organization and top leadership. As long as their ideas remain credible and even appealing to some, the threat of anarchistic violence will remain.” -Excerpt from the book.

For an understanding of ISIS and why it remains a potentially destructive force across the Middle East, this engaging resource is an interesting read for anyone seeking insights into the emergence and continued presence of ISIS.

Table of Contents

Message from the Editors 3

Introduction ISIS: Its Evolution and Influences 5

CHAPTER ONE What’s in a Name? From Tawhid w’ al-Jihad to ISIS 9 A

nalytical Framework: Jihadist Strategy and Social Movement Theory 17

CHAPTER TWO How ISIS Adapts al Qaeda’s Doctrine and Strategy of Guerrilla Warfare 21

Guerrilla Doctrine: Lessons Learned 21

Guerrilla Doctrine: Al-Suri’s Template and ISIS 29

Guerrilla Strategy: The Administration of Savagery as Operational Guide 33

CHAPTER THREE ISIS Group’s Successful Mobilization Tactics 41

Communication Strategy 41

Mobilization: Social Movement Theory Concepts Applied to ISIS 46

CHAPTER FOUR Conclusion: Net Assessment of ISIS Strengths and Weaknesses With Recommendations 57

The Enemy’s Strengths 57

The Enemy’s Weaknesses 58

Recommendations 59

Further Reading 67

Study Guide 71

About the Author 75


This resource would benefit the intelligence community, military leaders, members of the Federal government, scholars involved in identifying and understanding the root causes of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as well as members of the general public interested in irregular warfare.

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Defense Dept., Navy, Naval War College
  • Ryan, Michael W. S.
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  • Center on Irregular Warfare and Armed Groups Case Studies
  • Terrorist Group That Would Be a State
  • Islamic State
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