Date of Graduation

Spring 2010


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Kerry Kartchner


fundamentalism, al Qaida, terrorism, jihadist, illegitimate power

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


The Jihadist quest for power is illegitimate because it distorts the religious foundations upon which its authority is based. These distortions take the form of a historical, strategic, theological, tactical and societal warping of reality to justify the jihadist strategic aim of instituting a utopian vision of Islamic society that is puritanical and utilizes violence to "free” people from non-Islamic societies that have ceased to practice shari'a law according to the jihadist beliefs. The jihadist sectarian ideology manifests on the world stage as three simultaneous struggles: Islamic civil war; totalitarianism; and a lesser recognized struggle to distort western values within western society using "Democracy against itself”. The objective of this thesis is to identify areas in which a wide legitimacy gap exists between the jihadist distortions and reality. Additional gaps identified include stability and strategic gaps that exist among the Muslim population and the West, respectively. Each of the sections (historical, strategic, theological, tactical and societal) provide the basis for the final section on "Exposing the Fallacy” that summarizes the gaps that exist among the Jihadist, Muslim population, and the West. The largest legitimacy gaps have the greatest potential for successful strategic communication efforts.


© Maureen Catherine O'Malley

Campus Only