Date of Conferral

2019

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Boris V. Bruk

Abstract

Since the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) declared its caliphate in June 2014, there has been an unprecedented amount of terrorist attacks conducted in the West by individuals either inspired by jihadist ideology or linked to ISIS. As evidenced by the number of ISIS-related attacks throughout Europe and North America, the West faces an ongoing and persistent transnational threat from Islamic terrorism. There is an extensive amount of literature on terrorism and ISIS. However, there is a gap in literature on the potential impact of ISIS on the future of Islamic terrorism. This qualitative case study explored how ISIS potentially shaped the future of Islamic transnational terrorism. Stepanova’s asymmetric conflict theory served as the framework for this study. Interviews and one open-ended questionnaire on Islamic transnational terrorism were collected from 15 individuals within the defense enterprise, academia, and individuals working in private defense organizations, using purposive sampling. Analysis occurred by using Braum and Clarke’s six phases of coding. The results of this study indicated ISIS has shaped the future of transnational terrorism by demonstrating likeminded extremists no longer have to travel to conflict zones in order to plan or receive guidance on attack targets while using simple attack methods and weapons. Additionally, ISIS empowered and encouraged its members to interact with potential recruits or supporters through social media and open forums, which may possibly be emulated in the future by likeminded groups. The results contribute to positive social change by providing decision makers information on the future of Islamic transnational terrorism, thus allowing for appropriate countermeasures that mitigate terror activities.

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