October 29, 2014

TSG IntelBrief: The Islamic State: An In-Depth Report

• The group known as The Islamic State is now a chimera of secular Ba’athist and religious takfiri ideologies; the organizational skills of the former help channel the motivational fervor of the latter

• The group acts as a cancer feeding on the monetary bloodstream of the local host populations it controls in Iraq and Syria: of the group’s estimated $3 million daily income, the systematic taxing/extorting of daily economic life is as important as the sales of the oil production it currently controls

• The problem of foreign fighters joining The Islamic State is certainly global but it is in no way evenly distributed: over half of the estimated total come from just five  countries: Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, and Turkey

• The group’s use of decentralized social media to spread highly-produced imagery has made each of its thousands of online supporters their own ministry of propaganda, with a consistent yet-still dynamic message reaching its target audience of disaffected youth

• The future of the group depends on whether alternative centers of power in both Iraq and Syria are able to offer sufficiently credible assurances of a better life, in order to persuade the uncommitted majority who live under The Islamic State’s dominion to risk their lives in opposing it.