Operation Inherent Resolve and “Exposing the True Nature” of the Islamic State

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The aim here is to consider the implications of the counter-ideological struggle against the Islamic State. While most other studies have looked at the other elements of Operation Inherent Resolve–specifically its military, counter-recruitment, financial and humanitarian initiatives–here the focus is on its Line of Effort Five; the attempt to expose its “true nature” through a sustained program of “ideological de-legitimization.” It firstly sets out the institutional structures through which this took place before, secondly, going on to analyze the discursive content of the strategic messaging that was disseminated. The overall argument put forward is that, in continuing the tendency to define the ideational basis of al-Qaeda’s violence in terms of what it is not, Line of Effort Five largely maintained the War on Terror’s established tropes of evilness, wantonness and inhumanity, thereby reinforcing the idea that miliary force could be the only possible recourse.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in Conflict & Terrorism
Early online date23 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Apr 2023


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