- Training format: Series of online video lectures (Online Short Series)
- Number of lessons: 3 (Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
- Duration of each lesson: Introduction (4 min), Part 1 (12 min), Part 2 (9 min), Part 3 (10 min)
- Total duration of training: 35 minutes of video; additional time needed to complete readings
- Intended audience: Decision-makers, analysts and operators seeking to understand, anticipate, and respond to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
This series of brief online training lectures explores research-based findings on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (referred to as ISIL in this training). These findings are the result of a research network facilitated by the Strategic Multilayer Assessment office within the Department of Defense and this training has been produced with funding from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's Office of University Programs.
The lessons explore two key questions:
- What makes ISIL so magnetic, inspirational, and deeply resonant with a small, but significant, portion of the Muslim population?
- Is ISIL a durable organization, and what are the characteristics of ISIL that can help us anticipate its durability?
At the end of each lesson, a list of suggested readings is presented. These readings, as well as full text scripts, are available for download as PDF files by clicking on the links below each video.
- Multi-method Assessment of ISIL: Executive Summary. Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT).
Part 1: Geopolitical Context and Genesis of ISIL
- Understanding the Threat: Explaining the Rise and Appeal of the Islamic State. Jonathan Cosgrove, Muayyad al-Chalabi, Lee Slushe & Dr. Stacey Pollard, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
- Objectives and Scenarios for ISIL. Drs. Ali E. Abbas, Richard S. John, Johannes Siebert, Detlof von Winterfeldt, University of Southern California, Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), DHS.
- Conceptual Organization: Evolution & Longevity Framework. Dr. Allison Astorino-Courtois, NSI.
- Comparative Psychological Profiles: Baghdadi & Zawahiri. Maj. Jason Spitaletta, USMCR, Joint Staff J7 & The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
- An Organizational Profile of the Islamic State: Leadership, Cyber Expertise, and Firm Legitimacy. Dr. Gina S. Ligon, Mackenzie Harms, John Crowe, Dr. Leif Lundmark & Dr. Pete Simi, University of Nebraska Omaha, START, DHS
- NSI Subject Mater Expert (SME) Elicitation Study. Sarah Canna, NSI.
- Thematic Analysis of ISIL Messaging. Dr. Lawrence A. Kuznar, Indiana University – Purdue University, Fort Wayne & William H. Moon, Department of the Air Force.
- Connecting the Continua: The Dynamics of ISIL Success. Dr. Allison Astorino-Courtois, NSI.
- Summary of Key Findings. Dr. Larry Kuznar, Indiana University – Purdue University, Fort Wayne, NSI & Maj. Jason Spitaletta, JS/J-7 and JHU/APL.
The views and conclusions expressed in this training should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security or START.
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