Date of Graduation

Spring 2017


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Kerry Kartchner


information operations, terrorism, foreign fighters, the Islamic state, strategic communications, psychological strategy

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies | International Relations | Multicultural Psychology | Social Policy | Social Psychology | Terrorism Studies


This thesis focuses on the necessity of psychological strategies to combat the Islamic State’s recruitment of foreign fighters. This thesis argues that psychological strategies are a primary weapon due to the psychological nature of the war against the Islamic State, which is a part of the overall war of ideas. This thesis does not consider psychological strategies for other aspects of U.S. counterterrorism strategy, nor does it reflect the difficulties involved with developing U.S. strategies in the U.S. federal government. Furthermore, this thesis only focuses on foreign fighter defending and supporting the Islamic State, which is the successor of Al Qaeda in Iraq and does not consider foreign fighters supporting other terrorist organizations. The result of the research done for this thesis finds that psychological strategies must become a core element in U.S. policy towards this issue.


© David Michael Smaney

Open Access