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The Islamic State
October 28, 2014


The Islamic State
The Soufan Group
November 2014


“The self-styled Islamic State is an accident of history, emerging from multiple social, political, and economic tensions in the Middle East and beyond. It has challenged the territorial divisions imposed on the region following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire by carving out for itself a large area of territory. But ultimately, its impact will flow as much from its challenge to established concepts of government, national sovereignty, and national identity.”

The Soufan Group’s Special Report on The Islamic State takes an unprecedented in-depth look at the group’s leadership, structure, operations, and objectives as it continues its bloody rampage. The report—and the accompanying charts, graphs, and photos—examines the contradictions that abound in a clandestine terrorist group that seeks to openly manage a state; a group that feeds on collapse and chaos but that is rigidly structured and organized; and a group that through its fight to return to an imagined past has greatly altered the region’s future.

The authors’ unique experiences and backgrounds shaped the paper’s approach: Richard Barrett is a former senior official with Britain’s MI-6 and former head of the UN’s Monitoring Team for Al-Qaeda and the Taliban; Patrick Skinner is a former CIA case officer with extensive experience with extremist groups in the Middle East; Robert McFadden is a 30-year veteran of the Naval Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), investigating extremist groups in cases such as the USS Cole and many others; Lila Ghosh is formerly with CNN, The Council on Foreign Relations, and Condé Nast International.


Click here to access a copy of the full report.