Date of Award

11-2015

Document Type

Capstone-Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Program Name

Intelligence Studies

Capstone Instructor

Dr. Robert Redding

Abstract

In an age of evolving and asymmetric warfare, Information Operations represent a useful tool to shape any conflict from a distance. Its effectiveness is particularly valuable given the current climate of fiscal uncertainty and the low-risk of human casualties it presents. The study of the conflict with the Islamic State provides an ideal opportunity to determine what comprises an effective Information Operations campaign. Using a non-experimental, qualitative approach that relies on causal reasoning, this research analyzes prior Information Operations used by and against both the Islamic State and similar terror groups such as Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab in order to identify aspects of effective Information Operations. The research conducted shows that Information Operations targeting Islamic terror groups are effective in causing disruption, provided they have access to the correct target audience, the utilization of digital mediums, and leverage using the themes of barbarism and the Islamic State label of “Daesh”. The key to identifying effective Information Operations ultimately lies in the understanding of the target audience through ethnography, and the knowledge of how Game Theory and Focalism form the basis of the propaganda effort.

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