Abstract for: Modeling ISIL: Understanding the Dynamics of a Modern Terrorist Network

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) grew out of the insurgency in Iraq and flourished in the vacuum left after the civil war in Syria and the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. Its support among Sunni Arabs sprang from their distrust of the Shia government in Iraq and the persecution of Sunni Iraqis after the U.S. withdrawal. Their violent tactics are widely televised as the conduct executions almost every day that become more and more brutal. Although they display the behavior and structure of a traditional insurgency, they also show characteristics of an emerging state actor, and have demonstrated their global reach through acts of violence across the globe. Additionally, their cyber presence on the web and social media enable them to reach thousands of disenfranchised Muslims across the global and potentially inspire acts of violence by ISIL followers. This paper reviews the relevant literature and presents a causal loop diagram to model the dynamic behavior behind ISILís rise and continued support across the globe. It goes on to examine the potential impacts of several policy options to combat ISIL through the use of these causal loop diagrams.