Islamic State, Identity, and the Global Jihadist Movement: How is Islamic State successful at recruiting “ordinary” people?


  • Alyssa Chassman Master of Arts in Human Rights, Kingston University London


Islamic State, ISIL, Foreign Fighters, Radicalization, Recruitment, Relative Deprivation, Social Identity Theory


What conditions breed radicalization? How does Islamic State capitalize on those conditions to maximize their recruitment numbers? The foreign fighter phenomenon has puzzled academics, particularly as the crisis in Iraq and Syria has seen an influx of foreign fighters from “ordinary” backgrounds. This analysis attempts encapsulate why Islamic State is successful at recruiting foreign fighters by looking at their recruitment strategies in practice in conjunction with secondary analysis of identity theories and sociological processes of recruitment. The analysis finds that identity crises are key factor in the process, and IS recruiters are methodical in their approach of how they interject their ideology on the hearts and minds of the vulnerable.


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