Authored by Haroro J. Ingram
This study examines the Islamic State movement’s method of insurgency in both its theory (as articulated in the group’s internal and publicly disseminated documents) and its practice via an analysis of its capture and occupation of Mosul. Drawing on a variety of primary source materials including interviews, this paper presents a conceptual model of insurgency arguing that the Islamic State emerges as an exemplar case study of many key strategic mechanisms and psychosocial dynamics that are crucial for understanding modern insurgencies.
To these ends, this study has three key aims. First, it presents a conceptual framework for understanding modern insurgency as a dual contest of control and meaning. This model of insurgency, which builds on a range of sources including a global cross-section of insurgency doctrines, is then applied to the Islamic State. Second, this study analyses fourteen primary source documents that constitute the Islamic State’s insurgency canon. It then examines the Islamic State’s method of insurgency in practice with a particular focus on the years following its near decimation in 2007-08 through to its occupation of Mosul (circa 2014-17). Third, this study concludes by outlining a suite of research and policy recommendations based on its key conceptual and analytical findings. Overall, it hopes to contribute to not only literature examining the Islamic State but ongoing scholarly and practitioner debates on how best to understand modern insurgencies and its counterstrategy implications.