ISIS Strategy and Goals

Based on things we've seen posted online regarding ISIS, especially those directed at strong military options (e.g., carpet bombing ISIS locations), we wish to discuss the basic elements of the ISIS strategy.  Knowing what ISIS is attempting to accomplish can enhance efforts to combat their goals.

As noted by various analysts (an online search will bring up several), ISIS strategy has two primary parts: Military (geographic "Islamic State") and Terrorism.  They supplement and benefit each other.


Part I: Islamic State

ISIS has captured land in northern IRAQ, primarily in the city of Mosul.  US backed forces have been driving ISIS out of that area.  As of December of 201 6, upwards of 50,000 ISIS combatants have been killed.  If things progress as they have, the Islamic State will not be viable.

Part II: Terrorism

It is important to understand that ISIS (and all terrorist groups) commits acts of violence in order to: :

Create widespread fear, a major psychological goal.  For this reason, they welcome being called terrorists, because they think that label means they are succeeding in producing fear.  They absolutely do not want to be labeled for what hey actually are, international criminals.

Create negative backlash against Muslims in general.  This backlash assists in recruiting new ISIS members, especially amongst those already living in countries they wish to "terrorize," thereby eliminating the need to infiltrate those countries.

Obtain worldwide, national, or local recognition for their cause by attracting the attention of the media

Harass, weaken, or embarrass government security forces so that the the government overreacts and appears repressive

Steal or extort money and equipment, especially weapons and ammunition vital to the operation of their group

Destroy facilities or disrupt lines of communication in order to create doubt that the government can provide for and protect its citizens

Discourage foreign investments, tourism, or assistance programs that can affect the target country's economy and support of the government in power

Influence government decisions, legislation, or other critical decisions

Free prisoners

Satisfy vengeance

Turn the tide in a guerrilla war by forcing government security forces to concentrate their efforts in urban areas. This allows the terrorist group to establish itself among the local populace in rural areas.

As of now, ISIS appears to be winning many of these Part II goals, especially those that involve creating backlash and repressive responses in other countries, thereby gaining recruits in those countries..


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