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The Human Drones of Isis: How 21st Century Terrorism Uses Remote Warfare

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Over the course of a few short years, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS expanded from Iraq and Syria into North Africa and South and Southeast Asia. This group initially took advantage of the chaos created by the Syrian civil war and the sectarian fractures of Iraq. ISIS sought to control territory and establish a new caliphate. The group set forth a clear strategy, one based on violence, extremism, and fear. It also made its way to Europe through attacks in Belgium, France, Germany, and other European countries. While terrorism is not a new phenomenon in Europe, there is a question of why ISIS would seek to conduct extra-territorial attacks if the main goal was to establish sovereignty in Syria and Iraq. These wide-ranging attacks can be defined as a form of remote warfare, specifically remote terrorism. Remote terrorism allows ISIS and similar organizations to enjoy the same capabilities that remote warfare provides nation-states. Therefore, the basic hypothesis for this research is Terrorist groups that seek to control or already control territory will also use remote warfare to conduct extra-territorial attacks. This thesis will not develop a completely new theory of remote warfare. Rather, it will consider case studies, and conduct cross-case comparisons in order to identify gaps in existing remote warfare theory. It will further establish remote terrorism as a unique domain within an existing concept of remote warfare. This will be done through the examination of terror attacks in Europespecifically Paris, Brussels, and Niceconducted by ISIS.

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  • Unconventional Warfare

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