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To What Extent Does Isis Mark a New Stage in the Development of Salafi-Jihadism

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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This thesis examines whether the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS marks a new stage in the development of Salafi-jihadism. Based on a thorough examination of primary and secondary sources, this study concludes that the emergence of ISIS introduced three significant differences into the Salafi-jihadism world. First, sectarianism and the mass application of takfir to excommunicate Muslims have been at the core of ISISs strategy. Second, ISISs establishment of the proto-caliphate is a huge milestone in the history of Salafi-jihadism. Third, a propaganda campaign and the professional use of media are additional new characteristics that distinguish ISIS from the other Salafi-jihadist groups. The thesis concludes that ISIS marks a new stage in the development of Salafi-jihadism. Although ISIS has attempted to leave an extensive legacy, we believe that the establishment of the Islamic caliphate is the only lasting impact that ISIS will have on Salafi-jihadism ideology. Despite the terrible reputation ISIS has gained for its brutalities, the success that the group had in establishing a proto-caliphate however briefly will live forever, and may encourage future generations of Salafi-jihadists to undertake the same endeavor.

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  • Unconventional Warfare

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