Seven Years of Terror: Jihadi Organisations’ Strategies and Future Directions

Asaad Almohammad 19 Aug 2019
 
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This paper aims to provide practitioners and academics with an empirical approach for assessing the current state and future directions of the Salafi-Jihadi Movement’s (SJM) member organisations. Making use of available data, it taps into the Islamic State’s (IS) and al-Qaeda’s (AQ) strategic priorities. Then, the article maps and examines various strategies of the broader SJM using game theory. It assigns numerical representations to these strategies based on both the quantitative analysis of AQ’s and IS’s strategic priorities and published assessments of jihadi organisations’ strategies. The findings suggest that Localisation is the most pragmatic approach when compared to global undertaking for winning the hearts and minds of jihadi constituencies or proto-state building. Moreover, the results indicate that to regain hegemony of the SJM, AQ may opt to orchestrate terrorist attacks against the West. The model also shows that IS scores the highest payoffs through using guerrilla warfare methods and sleeper cells—as well as by rebuilding its depleted capacities and carrying out attacks that polarise Sunni communities. The paper concludes by providing implications, limitations, and directions for future research.

Keywords: Al-Qaeda; Islamic State; strategy; enemy hierarchy; game theory

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