This course will provide an in-depth overview into the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (also known as the Islamic State, the Arabic acronym Daesh, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, in addition to other aliases). The rapid rise of the Islamic State has taken counterterrorism policymakers and foreign policy practitioners by surprise.

In an effort for students to come to a common understanding of key terms that will be discussed throughout the course, a session will be devoted to understanding key concepts and terms related to Islamic history. In this regard, students should take away from the course a baseline understanding of Islamic jurisprudence, meaning of the caliphate, the five pillars of Islam, and Shar’ia law.

The course will trace the history of the Islamic State’s rise and will examine the leadership figures/personalities behind the group. The course will also examine the Islamic State’s connection and ultimate divorce from al-Qa’ida. The course will all examine how the group finances its operations as well as the rise of its affiliates.

Finally, the course will also explore the group’s use of foreign fighters and social media to further its agenda. Global responses in an effort to counter the Islamic State will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

• Demonstrate knowledge of the history of the Islamic State from its creation to its current status as a significant power broker primarily operating in Syria and Iraq.

• Understand the key personalities and motivations of leadership figures within the Islamic State as well as methods the group utilizes to accrue wealth, territory, and general support.

• Understand the reasons for the split between the Islamic State and al-Qa’ida as well as the implications of the split to include the development of the Islamic State’s affiliates.

• Comprehend the role of women and foreign fighters within the Islamic State.

• Understand the U.S. and global response focused on countering the Islamic State through the application of soft and hard power.

10:00am-11:50am on Monday (Jan 28, 2019 to May 17, 2019)
Morse A101