Soldiers of End-Times: Assessing the Military Effectiveness of the Islamic State

12:00pm - 1:00pm

Online: Zoom Webinar

On Thursday, March 3 at 12:00 p.m. ET, Washington Institute for Near East Policy Associate Fellow Ido Levy provided a virtual talk on his book, Soldiers of End-Times: Assessing the Military Effectiveness of the Islamic State. You can view a recording of the event at this link. If you have any questions, please email the START events team at

In 2014, the Islamic State shocked the world when it defeated national armies on the battlefield and seized large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The group’s military success can be traced to four key variables: organizational innovation, shaping operations, will to fight, and a knack for retaining the initiative. The IS military project led not only to the declaration of a “caliphate,” but to the proliferation of jihadist franchises that devastated countries, displaced millions, and killed tens of thousands. Yet the group’s weaknesses ultimately led to the collapse of its territorial achievement.

Expert Ido Levy begins this pioneering study by surveying jihadist warfare from the 1970s to the present. He then incorporates primary sources and interviews with military officers, experts, and journalists to explain how IS used conventional military capabilities to defeat larger, better-equipped state armies and conquer land in Syria, Iraq, Libya, the Philippines, and Nigeria. Anchored by four case studies—Ramadi, Kobane, Mosul, and Baghuz—the volume illuminates potential strategies to prevent a resurgence by IS or similar groups.

Ido Levy is an associate fellow working with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Military and Security Studies Program. He holds a Master of Public Policy from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. He is the author of the book Soldiers of End-Times: Assessing the Military Effectiveness of the Islamic State, now available as a free ebook. For universities, research centers, libraries, and other institutions, free hard copies of the book are available upon request.

In 2015, Levy studied Arabic at Givat Haviva, Israel and, in 2018, received his B.A. summa cum laude in government, counter-terrorism, and global affairs from IDC Herzliya. In Israel, he researched radicalization and deradicalization programs at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and Iraqi political affairs at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS). During his graduate studies, Levy conducted further research on Iraq and other countries in the Middle East at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and ideologies and lethality rates of terrorist groups at the START Consortium. He was also a research and teaching assistant at the McCourt School of Public Policy and the editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Public Policy Review. His work has appeared in ICT, Studies in Conflict & TerrorismMiddle East PolicyTerrorism and Political ViolenceSmall Wars JournalNBCJerusalem PostThe Forward, and other publications. He is fluent in Hebrew and speaks Arabic at an advanced level.