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Leadership DecapitationStrategic Targeting of Terrorist Organizations$
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Jenna Jordan

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781503608245

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503608245.001.0001

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(p.181) 8 Conclusion
Leadership Decapitation

Jenna Jordan

Stanford University Press

The book concludes with a discussion of the overall findings and theoretical arguments regarding the efficacy of leadership targeting. It then examines 198 instances of targeting efforts against ISIS leaders. The theory suggests that targeting is not likely to result in the demise or even a significant weakening of ISIS. It is an Islamist organization, bureaucratized, and with considerable amounts of communal support, albeit decentralized and in many cases coerced. Even if Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is captured or killed and the organization undergoes a brief period of disruption, given the group’s hierarchy of authority and chain of command, it should ultimately choose a successor easily and recover quickly. Furthermore, the statistical results regarding the resilience of large and Islamist organization is consistent with ISIS’s resilience. The chapter concludes with policy recommendations regarding the use and impact of leadership decapitation as a counterterrorism policy.

Keywords:   leadership decapitation, al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda in Iraq, Islamic State in Iraq, terrorist attacks, counterterrorism policy

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