States of terror: understanding evolving Islamist terrorist organizations and the threat they pose
McCulley, Dylan P.
Johnson, Thomas H.
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Islamist militant organizations appear to be evolving from traditional disassociated networks, al-Qaeda's model, into centralized regional powers with the intent of developing into national governments. This thesis presents a comparative case study of five mainstream Islamist militant organizations, the Islamic State, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, al-Shabaab, the Afghan Taliban, and Hezbollah, to determine how close they have come to statehood and how such a change may affect U.S. homeland security. The criteria used to analyze the case studies were primarily derived from the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, which describes a state as an entity with a permanent population, defined borders, an ability to conduct governance, and an ability to enter into relations with other national governments. Additional criteria were used to determine the organizations' propensity to threaten the United States in their governmental capacity. This thesis found that none of the Islamist militant organizations in the case studies currently fit all the criteria for statehood; however, none fit al-Qaeda's disassociated model either. Therefore, the international community should consider defining and more accurately classifying these groups as militant states.
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