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Harbingers of the Caliphate: Islamic State Revolutionary Actions 2011-2014

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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At the time of the U.S. forces withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011, the Islamic State was on the brink of defeat. With roughly 700 members remaining, the movement initiated a well designed and rigorously executed revolutionary campaign, first in Iraq and then Syria. By June of 2014, a movement once dismissed as junior varsity was dominating eastern Syria and routing divisions of the Iraqi Army. This thesis develops a model of revolutionary growth and employs it as a tool to evaluate the Islamic States campaign from 2011 through 2014. This evaluation reveals the significance and logic of Islamic State car bomb attacks against the Iraqi Security Forces and Shia civilians. The analysis explains how and why the Islamic State forges alliances and eliminates rival movements and tribal organizations. This evaluation illuminates the Islamic States internal structure and methodology for governing territory to support further growth. This thesis allows the reader to form a better understanding of the integrated strategy of the Islamic State, so as to be better prepared to contribute to current efforts to combat the movementin Iraq, Syria, and other troubled nations.

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Technical Report



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Approved For Public Release;

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