Small Wars Journal

Islamic State

Salafi Jihadism and Chemical Weapons Attacks: Ideological Contrasts and Strategic Constraints

Chemical weapons attacks remain an uncommon choice for militant and terrorist organizations targeting Western countries. Their rarity makes them an attractive option, as the shock factor associated chemical weapons attacks plays into the main goal of any terrorist attack: to instill fear and insecurity in the population.

About the Author(s)

Getting off: The Implications of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues Among Former ISIS Fighters for Counterterrorism and Deradicalization

One essential aspect affecting individual risk is mental health, such as for example the role of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, that has been found to significantly increase the threat posed by returning foreign fighters. Furthermore, as it happened throughout history when fighting forces were facing superior opponents and ultimate defeat on the battlefield during “final stands”, the use of drugs to enhance fanaticism, physical strength and to prevent fatigue, hunger, thirst and exhaustion was also reportedly present among IS’s fighters. The substance of choice for IS, Captagon or fenethylline, was so famous among the group’s fighters, that it was used even during terror attacks, for example in the November 2015 Paris attacks.

About the Author(s)

Primer: Terrorist Usage of Twitter and Social Media

"As terror groups such as ISIS gain more experience using social media platforms, the structure of posts and the methods used to promote the posts are becoming similar to the strategies a business would use to promote a product on those platforms. Although, the groups can’t directly mimic a business. They generally are blocked from using straightforward promotion tools put in place by the platform, such as advertisements or paid promotions. Groups like ISIS also tend to violate the terms of service for the social media platforms they are using. Much like the battle between cyber attacks and cyber security, terrorist organizations are continually adapting to circumvent detection and removal by the platforms they are using."

About the Author(s)

It Ain’t Over Til’ it’s Over - Key States Must Form and Implement a Rehabilitation Policy and Strategy for Third Party Refugees of the Islamic State - Now

With limited resources and policy that was constructed as it was being implemented, the US supported a coalition of Syrian forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF and their anti-Islamic State coalition liberated Kobane and Manbij in 2016, and then moved onto to Raqqa in 2017, and finally Baghouz in 2019 beating the Islamic State into a corner of Syria. Despite this massive military accomplishment and territorial success, the heartbeat behind the ideology isn’t dead, in fact it might be growing stronger.

About the Author(s)

Rehabilitating the Children of ISIS: A Comparative Case Study of Armed Groups and Child Soldier Reintegration

As ISIS members are displaced through battlefield losses, reintegration of former ISIS members remains a key challenge globally. ISIS has frequently used children as a part of its military operations, and hundreds of these children have been indoctrinated into ISIS ideology. The international community now faces a critical issue with the rehabilitation of ISIS children. This population was raised in a hyper-violent environment and has largely never been exposed or integrated into conventional society. As these children and their families flee to non-ISIS controlled areas or home countries, they pose a lifelong terrorism threat to the international community.

About the Author(s)

Measuring Strategic Progress Against ISIS

In order to make a clear case that the aggregate efforts of the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS (or Daesh as they are called in some countries) are showing progress towards “defeating” ISIS, we must understand the nature of this movement as a competition between its local jihadist groups and existing government leaders and institutions, at all levels, for the allegiance or submission of the population. In other words, we must address it for what it is: a networked global insurgency.

About the Author(s)

Toward Understanding the Actions of the Islamic State and Other Jihadist Groups as Military Doctrine

After over a decade and a half of the “War on Terror,” the United States and its allies have discovered the difficulty of fighting insurgent terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Operating from hard-to-reach areas, such as mountains and deserts, exploiting lack of effective government control, and leveraging support from local populations, these organizations have developed a way of war that defies even U.S. military efforts.

About the Author(s)