Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

Assignment Instructions

Select a terrorist organization likely to conduct an attack within the United States and complete an in-depth profile on the organization you selected for this first part of a three part series of papers. The same group you select will be used for your Midterm, Progress, and Final paper.

For this midterm, complete an in-depth profile on the organization selected for your project.  In 5-7 pages (double-spaced) provide a narrative explaining the organization’s origins, ideology, goals & objectives.  Include a discussion on the leadership, funding, and capabilities such as physical bases or operating/support location(s), personnel strengths, training programs, and communications methods.  Lastly, it would be helpful to provide a description of known and suspected weapons/lethal agents and delivery methods, procedures used in prior attacks, propaganda, surveillance methods, and significant events/dates that may be used in attack planning. Use section headings in your paper. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper


Note on the three paper assignment series:  The first paper (the midterm) is about the group you select and basically provides a historical perspective about the group. The second paper (the progress assignment) is a red cell where you put yourself in the shoes of the terrorist group by thinking like they would to determine how the U.S. can do intelligence collection on the terrorist group.

For the final assignment, you will combine all that you wrote in the first two papers into one seamless document and you will add at least three recommendations you would provide to a Homeland Security policy maker on how to counter your selected organization. Be sure to improve your writing based on feedback you receive from the midterm and progress assignment. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

Make sure you read the instructions carefully and that you focus your paper on answering the assigned questions. This assignment is a research paper, not an opinion paper, so you need to use the class readings to support your thesis.  Make sure you use APA style in-text parenthetical citations at the end of every sentence where you are quoting or paraphrasing another’s ideas (or any information) that is not your own thoughts and words, like this (Bergen, 2015, para 14). I highly recommend you use the APUS writing guide based on the APA style which can be found in the university library or at this link: APUS Style Guide for APA. You are welcome to use supplementary sources to compliment the assigned readings based upon your research, but make sure you use scholarly and credible sources. See the APUS Library Homeland Security Program Guide for good sources, as well as the APUS Research Primer and the APUS Library Research FAQs. For formatting, the best option is to use the attached example paper as a template (for formatting purposes only).Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper


  • Five-seven (5-7) pages of text, not including the Title or Reference pages
  • Written according to the APA style and format
  • Use Times New Roman 12 point font
  • 1 inch margins on all sides
  • Double space all text (no extra lines or spaces after a paragraph or section headings)

A respectable number of credible resources used, cited in the paper as in-text citations, and included on the reference page. A good rule of thumb is at least 2-3 scholarly sources per page of content.

This Midterm Assignment (the organizational profile) is due Sunday of Week 3. The SSGS Assignment Rubric for 300-400 Level Classes will be used to evaluate this assignment (attached). Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper


The bombing of Oklahoma City, 2001 anthrax attack, and intentional airline crash have increased the awareness of Americans on the significant impacts of terrorism. These occurrences and continuous terrorism threats have notably raised questions on how well prepared the US government is and the effectiveness of the defense infrastructure to curb terrorism. According to Gulmohamad (2014), terrorism is the intentional use of indiscriminate violence in creating terror and fear with an aim of achieving a religious, ideological, political or financial aim. It should, however, be understood that acts of terrorism are commonly executed by individuals who have violently been radicalized. Byman (2016) defines violent radicalization as a systematic process where victims adopt and promote an extremist belief system in order to facilitate ideological based violence in advancing social, political or religious change. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

Initial steps required to address such types of violence are; having a good understanding of these terror organizations, where they originate from, what inspires membership and active engagement in terrorism. For the purpose of this assignment, the terror organization ISIS is discussed. The discussion includes the origin, ideology, goals, objectives, leadership, funding and capabilities of ISIS. An explanation on the known and suspected weapons it potentially uses for attacks, methods of surveillance, procedures used in previous attacks and propaganda shall also be provided.  Terrorism, as executed by terror organizations, is not an individual experience, but an act of violence which is perpetrated at the population level. Therefore, it needs attention from fields that focus on the socio-ecological understanding of human behavior and social processes.

Origins, Ideology, and Goals & Objectives

            ISIS, officially known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is a religious terror organization with beliefs that are carefully considered.


            The origin of ISIS is linked to Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian jihadist, who is globally recognized as the organization’s founding father. It was originally found under the name Jamāʻat al-Tawḥīd wa-al-Jihād. Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi career as an aspiring jihadist started the year 1989 when he joined Mujahideen against a fight with the Red Army (Hashim, 2014).  However, his effort to prove how religiously he was committed on the battlefield was futile as he only witnessed the ending of the war without him significantly being involved. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi ended up staying in Afghanistan as a reporter and utilized this opportunity to establish a social network of extremists who were like-minded and eager to resume fighting against perceived enemies of the real Islam. His arrest for possessing explosives and guns the year 1994 increased the respect he gained from other detainees in prison where he also recruited more people to a new fighting group that he had formed (Gulmohamad, 2014). Following his release the year 1999, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi planned and met Osama bin Laden for blessings and organizational support. Based on his contacts and organization skills, the terrorist cell that he formed grew fast but got disrupted when he was driven out of Afghanistan following an invasion by the US the year 2001. For the next two years, he spent time in Jordan and Iraq to expand his networks.

Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi used the US invasion of Iraq to draw it into a long term and exhaustive conflict. He did so by instigating violence between Shias and the Sunni and this greatly contributed to daily violence in Iraq, communicating to other jihadists that Iraq was the new focus of attention of Jihadi struggle. Efforts by the US to deal with the insurgency that was gradually developing only worsened insecurity and increased support for Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s network. After his death in a US airstrike the year 2006 in June, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi later took over in 2013 April as the leader and created a military representative in Syria (Walt, 2015). After conquering the province of al-Raqqa in Syria, it re-established its dominance where it was originally located in Iraq. On the 1st day of the holy month of Ramadhan; 29th June 2014, a declaration was made that ISIS was a caliphate and that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was its caliph. He called on all Muslims to pledge allegiance to him.Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper


            ISIS ideology is rooted in Salafi-jihadism such that, it views religion and the state as inevitably bound together. Based on this ideology, political decisions and governance are strictly interpreted using the sharia law (Walt, 2015). Therefore, ISIS encourages religious violence and considers Muslims who do not agree with this ideology as infidels. It strictly adheres to worldwide jihadist principles and observes al-Qaeda hard lined ideology that is closely related to Wahhabism (Gulmohamad, 2014).

Goals & Objective

            A major goal of ISIS has been to form a Sunni Islamic state, particularly as a caliphate. It is for this reason that the terror organization even traced its leader’s lineage Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi back to Muhammad (Byman, 2016). The Dabiq magazine contains a comprehensive analysis of the organization’s goal. The terror organization also purposes to progressively seize land and take control of the Earth until it fills it with Islam’s justice and truth and puts an end to tyranny and falsehood of jahiliyyah. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper


            The head of ISIS is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is also its caliph. He initially was deputized by Abu Muslim al-Turkmanifor Iraq and Abu Ali al-Anbari for Syria before they died. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is advised by a cabinet of senior leaders while local emir’s control operations in Syria and Iraq (Hashim, 2014).  Under each leader are the different council’s on legal affairs, military affairs, finance, leadership, media, security, and intelligence. There is also a shura council, whose purpose is to ensure that, council’s and governors decisions comply with the organization’s sharia interpretation (Byman, 2016). Most of the organization’s leaders are former intelligence and military officers of Iraq. More specifically, they were members of the Ba’ath of Saddam Hussein who lost either their pensions or jobs in the process of de-ba’athification after the overthrowing of his regime.


            ISIS has five major sources of funding as follows. It collects proceeds from the territory it occupies through controlling banks, reserves for petroleum, extortion, taxation and robbing economic assets. Through modern networks of communication, ISIS also holds fundraisers. Besides, apart from receiving material support from foreign fighters, it gets donations from states in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia disguised as humanitarian support (Gulmohamad, 2014). Since 2012, ISIS has been releasing yearly reports with comprehensive numerical data on how it operates. This strategy was employed to encourage more potential donors. The last source of funding for its operations is through a series of kidnaps for ransoms. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper


ISIS has both financial, personnel, and weaponry capabilities to undertake their terror activities and operations. The group relies on illegal trade, smuggling or goods, trade in minerals, and oil in exchange for weapons of terror, mass destruction, and financial strength to finance their operation. The group also gets donations and funds from militia groups and organization that are interested in radicalizing their followers (Byman, 2016). The most significant capability of the groups is the huge following and subscription to this group characterized by the many fighters it has been able to recruit, train, and equip with weapons to conduct terror attacks.

Physical Bases and Operating and/or Support Locations

ISIS, as its name suggests, is a terror group based in Syria with the intention of converting the country into an Islamic state. They operate within Syria and Iraq and its neighborhood and have always engaged in terror attacks to expand their territory to the neighboring countries (Gulmohamad, 2014).  Most of the support for this terror groups come from countries who are opposed to Syrian civilian political leadership and those who would want to benefit from the anarchy by mining the rich mineral and oil in this country (Walt, 2015). Consequently, the support location for the ISIS is mainly the Arab and Muslim dominated country who provide them with financial, logistic, and weapon support to conduct their terror activities. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

Personnel Strengths

            The terror group engages in intimidation, abductions, and holding innocent young men and women hostage to increase their personal strength. Most of the ISIS members are recruited through forceful abductions while some are lured with jobs and financial benefits to join the group (Gates & Podder, 2015). Given the tactics and strategies that this group uses to recruit is members, it has been successful in amassing a strong base with a huge number of loyal fighters that can contain any counterterrorist operations by intelligence agencies.


            ISIS has established various holding camps where the recruits and those held hostages are trained on paramilitary skills. The recruits are taken through very intensive training on weapon handling, defensive mechanisms, paramilitary control, and protective skills, as well as how to operate various military weapons and equipment (Lia, 2015). The group also trains its members to remain loyal to the terror group through an oathing ceremony that makes them engage in destruction, murder, and abduction of the civilians without fear or mercy making them radicalized. They are trained to aim at the target and never to listen or have empathy for others. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

Training Programs

            ISIS has very organized and regular training programs that are up to date with the military tactics and intelligence methods used to track them. The group trains its members on how to evade security agencies, how to conceal their identity, how to avoid traps set up to arrest them, and how to attack security agencies (Lia, 2015).  They are also subjected to training on how to effectively combat and possible overrun military camps and security personnel. Above all, the ISIS are trained on how to overcome the fear of being arrested by security agencies as a way of gaining the courage to continue with their operation and activities (Chatfield, Reddick & Brajawidagda, 2015).

Communication Methods

            ISIS uses both mainstream and social media to communicate with its members and the general public. The group has its own media and communication team that gives a press conference, and take videos or audio of their operation and activities and then disseminate the message to the public and their members. Through its social media accounts, it updates its members and the general public on its next course of action (Chatfield, Reddick & Brajawidagda, 2015). The group also operates radio stations and print media houses that help them to convey their information to the general public. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

Additional Relevant Information

            ISIS has contributed to unprecedented levels of terrorism-related deaths in the US in the last decades. Its acts have been detrimental in resulting in anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder among American citizens. It has also contributed to economic losses, premature deaths and greatly undermined the principal tenets of the US public health system. It is for this reason that the US foreign policy has made terrorism its primary focus with an approximated annual expenditure by the federal government for the defense at $600billion and the expenditure for counterterrorism ranging between $17- $60 billion.

Known and suspected weapons / lethal agents and delivery methods

            ISIS is heavily reliant on weapons it captured most of which were from the insurgency of Iraq, the government and opposition forces during the civil war in Syria. These weapons were such as surface-to-air missiles, aircraft, guns, and armors. ISIS also obtained two anti-tank missiles during the Iraq insurgency after the US withdrew its forces in Iraq. Some of the non-conventional weapons used by ISIS include; car bombs, IEDs and suicide bombs (Byman, 2016).

Procedures Used in Prior Attacks

            In its previous attacks, ISIS conducted surveillance and espionage to conduct kidnaps, murders, and bombings. This would take longer periods of planning before advancing an attack. It can also motivate and mobilize its supporters in order to polarize specific regions and drive target populations away from their governments (Walt, 2015).  ISIS can also use either elimination or absorption to eliminate parties that may seem neutral. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper


            ISIS widely uses of propaganda to instill fear to target populations. It does this using a Black Muslim standard flag version. Therefore, it developed a logo that has a symbolic and clear meaning among Muslims (Chatfield, Reddick & Brajawidagda, 2015).

Surveillance Methods

            ISIS uses spies to conduct surveillance on areas it has planned to attack. The spies are expected to find out as much information as possible on their targets including, people dwelling in the specific places, those in charge, the religions of most families, any mosques and the Imams.

Significant Events / Dates

1989- ISIS leader and founder Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi traveled to Afghanistan to help in fighting the Soviet-Afghan War

1992- Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi is imprisoned in Jordan and builds his reputation as an influential and charismatic leader

1999- Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi gets released from prison and meets Osama bin Laden to seek blessings and organization support.

2002- Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi returns to Afghanistan and joins the Mujahideen fight against US forces


March 2003- US-led invasion of IRAQ

16th May 2003- Saddam Hussein gets overthrown in a beatification process.

19th August 2003- the bombing of the UN Canal Hotel

May 2004- Nick Berg, an American civilian, is murdered by ISIS

17th October 2004- Al-Qaeda is formed in Iraq

15th October 2005-An Islamic State is formed in Iraq

9th November 2005- Bombings of Amman Hotel

7th June 2006- Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi is killed in a US airstrike

2008-ISI weakens and goes underground

16th May 2010- Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi takes leadership of ISI

December 2011-us withdraw from Iraq

8th April 2013-ISIS is formed

February 2014-Al-Qaeda breaks ties with ISIS. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper


Byman, D. (2016). ISIS goes global: fight the Islamic state by targeting its affiliates. Foreign Aff.95, 76.

Chatfield, A. T., Reddick, C. G., & Brajawidagda, U. (2015, May). Tweeting propaganda, radicalization, and recruitment: Islamic state supporters multi-sided twitter networks. In Proceedings of the 16th Annual International Conference on Digital Government Research (pp. 239-249). ACM.

Gates, S., & Podder, S. (2015). Social media, recruitment, allegiance and the Islamic State. Perspectives on Terrorism9(4).

Gulmohamad, Z. K. (2014). The Rise and Fall of the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (Levant) ISIS. Global Security Studies5(2).

Hashim, A. S. (2014). The Islamic State: From al‐Qaeda Affiliate to Caliphate. Middle East Policy21(4), 69-83.

Lia, B. (2015). Understanding jihadi proto-states. Perspectives on Terrorism9(4).

Walt, S. M. (2015). ISIS as a revolutionary state. Foreign Aff.94, 42. Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Sample Paper

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