The Strategy of the Islamic State: Instrumental and Organizational Developments in Relation to the Strategy of Al Qaeda
the Islamic State
Law and Political Science
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AbstractAl Qaeda and the Islamic State are two of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world, whose terror campaigns have changed the nature of global jihadi terrorism in fundamental ways. The purpose of this thesis is to study the strategy of the Islamic State in relation to the strategy of Al Qaeda, with Martha Crenshaw’s Instrumental and Organizational Perspectives. These perspectives provide different explanations on the behavior of terrorist organizations: while the Instrumental focuses on the intentions of terror groups, the Organizational Perspective focuses on the internal dynamics between members, and organizational survival. Furthermore, this thesis is conducted through a comparative case study, in which different aspects of Al Qaeda’s and the Islamic State’s strategies are examined. Emphasis is on studying the intentions and capabilities of each group by examining the ideology, goals, warfare, tactics, propaganda, recruitment, organization, and resources. Two of the main results are that one needs to understand Al Qaeda in order to understand the strategy of the Islamic State, and that the Instrumental and Organizational Perspectives complement each other: while the Instrumental Perspective explains the rationale behind the organization’s strategy, the Organizational Perspective offers explanations of how the organization is shaped by its members.