Student Research

The Islamic State of Doom: Reframing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant as a New Religious Movement

A capstone project submitted to the faculty of the California Maritime Academy in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been analyzed extensively as a religious extremist group. Yet today, it is still hard to understand how individuals are compelled to join an organization which demonstrates such disregard for human life and reason. This paper explores the structure of New Religious Movements in attempt to see if this framework is applicable to the Islamic State. Specific areas of analysis are recruitment, retention, and thought control utilizing the BITE Model. The successful reframing of the Islamic State as a New Religious Movement offers the potential to better understand recruitment metrics for the organization, implications which may lead to more effective counter-recruitment and counter-terrorism strategies.

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