The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs conducted a hearing on January 20th, 2016 entitled “Inside the Mind of ISIS: Understanding its Goals and Ideology of ISIS to Better Protect the Homeland.”

The hearing featured testimonies from Bernard Haykel, Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University; Jessica Stern, Research Professor at the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University; Lorenzo G. Vidino, Director, Program on Extremism, Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, George Washington University; and Hedieh Mirahmadi, President of the World Organization for Resource Development and Education.

Here are important quotes:

“To ignore the Islamic background and content of the Islamic State’s ideology or the material factors that led to its rise is to fail in the scholarly enterprise and to fall short in providing the policy maker, the student, and the public with an adequate understanding of the global phenomenon of jihadism.” – Bernard Haykel

“To make their arguments, Jihadi-Salafis cite the most violent verses in the Quran and Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad, and they also draw selectively on a pre-modern legacy of textual sources and methods of interpretation.” – Bernard Haykel

“Our western governments have been complicit in tacitly allowing a lot of the Gulf states to export this very virulent, intolerant ideology across the Muslim world and throughout Western countries. So I think it’s very important that we use our diplomatic leverage…to tell them to stop exporting that stuff and try fixing all the damage that they’ve caused so far.” – Hedieh Mirahmadi

“ISIS is just the latest, and probably not the last, in a series of groups that have adapted…jihadist ideology. The defeat of ISIS will not stop the violence. Only the defeat of jihadist ideology will.” – Lorenzo G. Vidino

The Importance of the Caliphate

“The appeal of living in this utopian Islamic society is cited by the vast majority of American ISIS sympathizers.” – Lorenzo G. Vidino

“Suddenly as if almost overnight, the terrorists had discovered the holy grail of recruitment: encourage people to come and build, not to come and die.” – Hedieh Mirahmadi

“To such disenfranchised Sunnis, ISIS offers physical protection, free housing, sexual partners, and a sense of purpose. It also offers what it refers to as the only Shari’a based state anywhere on earth.” – Jessica Stern

“Despite the attention it has received in the West, IS’s main appeal is not so much in its slick social media campaign. It is, rather, in its territoriality.” – Lorenzo G. Vidino

Political Motivations

“Civilizational humiliation at the hands of the West is a central theme for jihadists. This narrative of humiliation resonates among some Muslims, who recognize that Islamic civilization was once the greatest on earth.” – Jessica Stern

“Jihadis express their dissatisfaction with the status quo by making war, not love. They are seduced by Thanatos rather than Eros. They ‘love death as much as you [in the West] love life,’ in Osama bin Laden’s famous and often-paraphrased words.” – Jessica Stern

“Compassion appears to have played an important role in initially motivating the first wave of young Americans who became interested and invested in the Syrian conflict. Many were outraged by the appalling violence Bashar al Assad’s regime used to suppress the Syrian rebellion and the subsequent inaction on the part of the international community.” – Lorenzo G. Vidino

The Strategic Objectives of the Islamic State

“The first goal is to spread a totalitarian caliphate throughout the region and, ultimately, the world. The second is to polarize Muslims against one another, to incite internal divisions within the West, and to turn the West against Islam, with the ultimate goal of ‘goad[ing] the West into launching an all-out ground attack, thereby setting the scene for the final battle between Muslims and the crusaders.” – Jessica Stern

“The argument is that the Islamic State is a harbinger of the end times in which the Muslims would be ultimately victorious over the forces of evil and unbelief. This aspect of the ideology is used for purely propaganda and recruitment purposes and is not to be taken seriously … Why does the Islamic State expend effort and funds in building state institutions, as it has been doing in both Syria and Iraq, when the end is nigh?” – Bernard Haykel

ISIS and Social Media

“Unlike al-Qaeda, the Islamic State’s supporters are masterful at producing technically sophisticated videos that are then skillfully distributed through social media applications such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. And these are not just gory beheading clips, but include a cappella chants, poetic odes, scenes of battles interspersed with images of medieval knights on horses, clashing swords, and violent video game scenes.” – Bernard Haykel

“In many cases the role of the Internet is not all-encompassing, but rather complementary to equally, if not more, important dynamics in the physical world. In these cases, individual IS sympathizers did not begin their radicalization trajectories alone in front of a computer screen, but rather via face-to-face interactions through preexisting social contacts who already embraced jihadist ideology. Over time, these individuals tend to form a cluster: a small informal group of like-minded individuals whose internal dynamics reinforce the beliefs of its members.” – Lorenzo G. Vidino

Countering the Threat to the U.S. Homeland

“In substance, there is no common profile or radicalization trajectory, no such thing as a
‘typical’ American IS recruit or sympathizer. … When it comes to knowledge of Islam, no one profile of an American IS sympathizer and no one radicalization trajectory exist.” – Lorenzo G. Vidino

“We can expect that attacks in the West will grow more sophisticated and become more common. [ISIS] will do its best to increase tensions between the ‘crusaders’ and ordinary Muslims, to polarize Muslims against one another, and to incite internal divisions within the West.” – Jessica Stern

“Stigmatizing the Muslim community and having law enforcement lead all our interactions with that community was only exacerbating the lack of trust and cooperation. It rarely led to more tips on potential threats and it provided a lot of negative propaganda for the recruiters who claim that the West was at war with Islam and Muslims.” – Hedieh Mirahmadi

“Because there is such a wide variety of ‘wants’ satisfied by jihadi organizations, prevention and counter-radicalization programs need to be tailored to individual needs.” – Jessica Stern

“Our military response addresses the problem over there, but obviously it doesn’t address the problem of homegrown recruits. Here we really have to think seriously at how to get better at containing ISIS’s ideology. I think everyone needs to be involved in this – the private sector, schools…” – Jessica Stern

“Most importantly, communities need resources to create multi-disciplinary, community-based prevention programs that can operate independently of law enforcement; as well as diversion programs that can actually treat radicalized individuals in a way that is governed by the laws of informed consent and monitored by federal or local law enforcement agencies.” – Hedieh Mirahmadi

More articles about  ISIS you may find on this GLOBALO website – just search above or read :

ISIS in America.

A Grand Strategy against ISIS.

30,000 foreign fighters joined ISIS- GLOBALO clip with professor Peter Neumann.


From:The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI)