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Organizational Design - A Strategy to Increase the Effectivenes of Terrorist Organizations - A Case Study on the Islamic State

April 2016
1519066 | Anglia Ruskin University
April 2016/ 1519066
Anglia Ruskin University2
April 2016/ 1519066
Anglia Ruskin University3
Since 9/11, internationalization of a new terrorism has become a se...
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Organizational Design - A Strategy to Increase the Effectivenes of Terrorist Organizations - A Case Study on the Islamic State

  2. 2. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University2
  3. 3. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University3 Abstract Since 9/11, internationalization of a new terrorism has become a serious threat to western civilization. After November 13th 2015, this threat has become even more real, with governments realizing that it implemented European territory to attack European populations, with an effectiveness outperforming counter-terrorism capability. Scholars have argued that the effectiveness of this new terrorism is a result of a new strategic organizational form. Whether or not organizational forms of terrorist groups have an impact on their effectiveness is unclear. This study aims to examine the evidence of a potential correlation between the effectiveness of a terrorist group and its organizational form, and evaluate the impact of its strategic evolution. The case study of the Islamic states provides a complex and challenging analysis. Due to its novelty, academic data on this terrorist organization are rare and scattered, which has made the Islamic State invisible to counterterrorism eyes. However, an analysis of this organization has the advantage of providing a useful framework and advanced knowledge to the academic field. The abductive approach used to conduct this research, initiates from a basement founding idea and prompts further research, to establish a real causal relationship between organizational form and effectiveness. This method’s shortcoming is that the conclusion drawn cannot be taken as definitive or undeniably true.
  5. 5. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University5 Acknowledgments I would like to thank my supervisor Irene Skoovgaard Smith, for her continuous support throughout 2015-2016. Her advice and her experience have been more than useful in the conduction of this research project. Thank you Irene! I also would like to thank Yassir Alfaraj, an Anglia Ruskin University student and one of my dear friends. His expertise in the English and Arabic languages was a very useful contribution, allowing the translation of several documents without which the accuracy of this research would not have been achievable. Thank you Yassir! Caroline Monod also deserves my acknowledgment since she had the patience to reread this paper several times, allowing you, the reader, to get the sense of this research. Thank you Caroline! Finally, I would like to thank my dad and my tenderly loved grand-parents, for their support and precious advice. Thank you!
  6. 6. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University6 List of Figures Figure 1: The Five Basic Parts of the Organization .................................................................14 Figure 2: The Types of Network Structure...............................................................................19 Figure 3: ISIS Attack and Control Zones: June 23, 2014 .......................................................36 Figure 4: ISIS Envisioned Boundaries .....................................................................................37 Figure 5: ISIS Sanctuary Map: April 22, 2016.........................................................................37 Figure 6: ISIS’s Regional Campaign: January 2016 ...............................................................38 Figure 7: ISIS perpetrated attacks by countries and with how many casualties by country.....40 Figure 8: Organizational Structure of the Islamic State............................................................42 Figure 9: Islamic Leadership Structure: overview of how the militant group is organized based on research by TRAC ...................................................................................................443 Figure 10: Islamic State (IS) Command Structure....................................................................45 Figure 11: Supervising and Reporting Flows Inside a Committee ..........................................46 Figure 12: ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Caucasus: June 2015 .....................................................53 Figure 13: ISIS’s Global Strategy: July 2015 ..........................................................................55 Figure 14: ISIS’s Campaign in Europe: January 2014 to march 25, 2016 ...............................56
  7. 7. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University7 List of Tables Table 1: Mintzberg Theory: Level of training and indoctrination needed depending of the hierarchical level.......................................................................................................................16 Table 2: Assessing the Degree of Hierarchy.............................................................................21 Table 3: Provinces which proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State......................................39
  8. 8. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University8 1. Introduction The words “Terrorism”, “Threat”, “Attacks” and “War”, have been used hundreds and hundreds of times these past two years by media, politicians, experts, journalists and people. After the Paris Attacks on November 13th 2016, the French President François Hollande declared “La France est en guerre” (France is in war), outlining “une période d’exeptionnelle gravité” (a spectacular time of seriousness) (Republique, 2015). We are facing today a unique trend in terrorism, the “new terrorism” (Martin,2014). Far from the common idea of comparing terrorist groups to a subspecies leading disorganized guerrilla (Laqueur, 2001), the new terrorism is becoming more and more violent (Conrad, Green, 2015), lead by an attractive and approved ideology, with an organized and disciplined armed force (Tuman, 2009), it is a “calculated use or threat of violence” (Townshend, 2002, p.3), as defined by the government of United State of America (Townshend, 2002). Nowadays, the new terrorism is characterized by The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) (The Atlantic, 2015) or Daesh, from the Arabic acronym “al Dawlah al-Islameyah fi Iraq wal-Sham” (al-Tamimi, 2015d). This group lead by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (al-Tamimi, 2015d), which has now reached the size of the UK territory (Wood, 2015), is portrayed by journalists, experts and even governments as the most, powerful, dangerous and influential terrorist organization the word has known so far, attacking and striking with an efficiency never seen before. The Guardian published the headline entitled “The deadly efficiency of ISIS and how it grew on the global stage” (Kilcullen, 2016), when the American President, Barrack Obama, in an interview to Steve Kroft, warned citizen, about the real threat, “Jim Clapper has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria” (, 2014) The question now is to understand why? How did this particular terrorist organization, which is not the first and will not be the last, reach that level of effectiveness? Is it because of
  9. 9. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University9 a weakness in counterterrorism, or the closed eyes of our government, as suggested by Barthe (2016). The answers to all these questions can be found, however, this research paper will not linger on these points, because they are not the aim of this paper. Those interesting aspects to are thereby leave to further researchers. Numerous experts stress the way this group is organized, assessing the increased sophistication of the group’s organizational structure (Al-Tamimi, 2015d) or comparing it to an “enterprise” (Trevidic, 2014, p.269). These declarations could plausibly explain how its organizational structure strategy lead toward its global effectiveness. A study was performed on the Al Qaeda group1 , evaluating the evolution of its structure as a strategy of effectiveness (Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005) to achieve its political goals. However, the Islamic State differentiates itself from Al Qaeda by its will to create a state and its declaration of a caliphate in June 2014 (Wood, 2015), suggesting an organization much more sophisticated, impelled to look beyond its own structure. This research study is based on the analysis of the organizational design of a terrorist organization, encompassing the way members communicate with each other, the way information is exchanged, the autonomy of its members, the specialization of their tasks and the coordination between these tasks; it also focuses on how control is distributed, to whom and with which level of supervision. The research suggests that all these parameters, constituting the design of an organization (Mintzberg, 1983; Shapiro, 2005), could impact the effectiveness of the organization. Moreover, a terrorist organization is based on unlawful processes, thereby engendering governmental pressure around its activity and threatening its effectiveness. The study also focuses on ISIS’s organizational design strategy as a security strategy. Then the paper demonstrates that the evolution of the organizational design, is a strategic move made by 1 Terrorist group created on the August 11th 1988 and leaded by Bin Laden until his death on the May 2nd 2011. Mainly known for the 9/11 attacks in the Unites States (2974 deaths) (Mccormick, 2014). The group is strongly weakened after Bin Laden death but still operates through many affiliated groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and Al Qaeda in Yemen (AQY) (Cassman, 2016).
  10. 10. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University10 terrorist organizations to develop their effectiveness and their influence on an international scale. A case study of the Islamic State is conducted to answer this research question. First of all, ISIS is a part of current events and of the day-to-day lives of many people and the reason of its effectiveness must be highlighted and emphasized. Second, the organization is quite new; facing an under exploration and a lack of studies in the passed literature, by taking an interest of its design, it could, in the future, bring some clues explaining why some terrorist organizations are more effective than some others. Third, the analysis reveals important information and conclusions concerning the administration of the Islamic State, which could highlight a new strategic trend in terrorist group organizational design. The reminder of the paper is organised as follows. First the paper provides an overview of the different theories encompassing the topic, associating business organizational theories with terrorism demonstrations (Section 2). Then throughout the analysis of theses theories, a hypothesis is established as the conductive link of the research (Section 3). Second, a methodology provides an explanation of how this research has been conducted, under which philosophy and approach. Moreover, it informs the reader on the data sources and the credibility of these sources, aiming to legitimate the findings (Section 3). Third, the hypotheses are tested through the case study of the Islamic State, emphasizing on the analysis of its organizational design that impacts its effective and security (Section 4). Finally, the study provides a conclusion and recommendation about the findings, fulfilling the main purpose of this research.
  11. 11. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University11 2. Literature review The literature review provides the reader with an examination and a critique of the essentials theories, studies and scholarship on the research topic. It allows the reader to appreciate and understand the topic through the work of previous scholars. The first part of the literature argues for the utilization of organizational design as a responsive strategy to a turbulent environment, balancing security and effectiveness aspects crucial in terrorist organizations. The second part analyses the bureaucracy and network structure, two of the most common organizational designs implemented by terrorist organizations. Then, the third part discusses the trade-offs terrorist organizations have to make between an effective or a strategic strategy. 2.1 Responsive Strategy to a Turbulent Environment Since terrorist organizations require unnegotiable and unachievable political aims through the perpetration of unlawful attacks, it is a required feature for them to establish an effective and a secure strategy, ensuring their durability. Shapiro (2005) provides an interesting framework illustrating that terrorist organizations constantly have to make a trade-off between these two key features, demonstrating their incompatibility. Shapiro (2005) argues that the choice between effectiveness and security depends on government pressure, in other words, on the environment within the organization has to evolve. It confirms the definition of Mintzberg (1983), suggesting that “Strategy may be viewed as a mediating force between the organization and its environment” (Mintzberg, 1983, p.13). Moreover, Shapiro (2005) states that the organizational design and structure of terrorist groups, constitute a main part of the responsive strategy used to face government pressure.
  12. 12. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University12 However, this strategy needs to be adapted to the evolution of the turbulent environment, as shown by Mishal and Rosenthal (2005), who have examined the structural evolution of Al-Qaeda before and after 9/11. 9/11 is the key event that forced the enhancement of counterterrorism operations and the tools used to destroy Al-Qaeda (Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005), increasing the hostility of the environment of the organization and impelling it to adapt its strategy. Shapiro (2005) emphasizes in that senses by characterizing terrorist organizations as “myopically adaptive” (Shapiro, 2005, p.6), meaning that they reflect on the “operational environment” (Shapiro, 2005, p.6) by anticipating the reaction of others (Shapiro, 2005). Furthermore, in his paper Shapiro (2005) provides scholarship a useful analysis of the costs and the benefits of many types of designs, articulating mainly around effectiveness and security. Shapiro (2005) put forward two main structures characterizing the design of terrorist organizations, hierarchy and network (Shapiro, 2005). If some organizations choose one or the other, others try to find the right place between both (Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001). They combine the costs and benefits of each one, to establish the most effective and secure design of their organization (Shapiro, 2005 and, Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001). Others like Al Qaeda, Hamas2 , Hizballah3 or ISIS, change their design throughout time to adapt their strategy according to their needs, effective or/and security. The structure of an organization has an impact on its strategy since it involves many other features or dimensions (Shapiro, 2005) in the organization, such as the way members communicate between each other (Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001; Shapiro, 2005; Mintzberg, 1983), the way information is exchanged (Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001), the autonomy of its members Shapiro, 2005), the specialization of their tasks (Shapiro, 2005; Mintzberg, 1983) and 2 The Hamas is a terrorist group, created in 1987 and leaded by Palestinian Muslim. It is operation in the Gaza Strip area (, 2016a). 3 Formed in 1982, this terrorist group is mainly represented by Shia Islamic people (, 2016b).
  13. 13. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University13 the coordination between these tasks. It also defines how the control is distributed and to whom (Shapiro, 2005), and what level of supervision is needed over members. 2.2 Organizational Design To properly position the framework of this paper, it is necessary to settle the way it reflects and discusses the different principles that define an organization. In his book “Structure in five: designing effective organization”, Mintzberg (1983) explains accurately all the dimensions (Shapiro, 2005), or ‘parameters’ (Mintzberg,1983) composing the organization of a group and he shows, depending of the structure choice, how these parameters express themselves inside the structure and how they can impact positively or negatively the effectiveness of the organization. According to Mintzberg’s (1983) framework, the structure and its proper parameters constitute the organizational design of the organization (Mintzberg,1983). Moreover, Mintzberg (1983) determined the principle such that the structure of an organization must fulfil two opposite requirements, “the division of labor into various tasks to be performed, and the coordination of these tasks to accomplish the activity” (Mintzberg, 1983, p.3). A principle confirmed by Shapiro (2005) assessing this specialization of tasks as an essential parameter, although it inhibits the coordination of theses task. In addition to Mintzberg (1983), Shapiro (2005), assessed the degree of hierarchy and the interconnectedness as the two other mains parameters allowing an accurate description of an organization’s design. These essentials parameters of the design are expressed through different levels of intensity depending on the structure.
  14. 14. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University14 2.2.1 Bureaucratic Structure and its Parameters Structure Mintzberg (1983) makes reference to Weber’s work4 about bureaucratic structures, whereby activities are regulated through a ‘rational-legal-authority’ framed by specific and written rules and procedures. Throughout the literature, bureaucracy is also defined as a mechanistic and rigid structure with a standardized division of labor, a formalized specialization of jobs and a strict hierarchical authority (Sorge, 2002; Mintzberg, 1983 and, Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005). The direct hierarchical supervision established through bureaucracy, leads to what Fayol (1949) defined as the “unity of command principle” (a subordinate refers to only one supervisor) and the “scalar chain principle” (the authority line from the operating core through the middle line to the strategic apex)5 (Figure 1), allowing supervision and a strict and controlled coordination of tasks (Mintzberg, 1983). These two elements highlight the high level of control integrated into the structure and the lack of autonomy of the operating core. 4 Maw Weber, 1946, Essays in Sociology, Oxford university press 5 This paper uses the five basic parts of the organization demonstrated by Mintzberg (1983) as a reference when he talks about hierarchical level. (Figure 1) Figure 1: The Five basic parts of the organization (Mintzberg, 1983, p.11)
  15. 15. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University15 In fact, the predominance of control inside a bureaucratic structure, allows the strategic apex to exercise power over its subordinates, making them obey orders, rules and procedures. Thus, since it tends to reduce the “importance of subordinate’s role” (Fayol, 1949, p.56) it centralizes the power (Fayol, 1949). A centralized power allows only the strategic apex to make strategic decisions, based on the assumption that it embodies the only entity with sufficient skills to make the right decisions, ensuring the effectiveness of the organization. Consequently, it results in a lack of freedom and autonomy with respect to the decision-making process for the operational core (Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005). Therefore, in their paper “Moral Hazard, Discipline and the Management of Terrorist Organizations” Shapiro and Siegel (2012) focus on the bureaucratic structure in terrorist organizations, defining it as a way to preserve, design and control the interactions between members. They established that middle level managers have an increased tendency toward bureaucratization resulting in increased control over members (Shapiro and Siegel, 2012). Then, they demonstrated that bureaucratisation was essential, since all members are not naturally committed to the organization’s ideology, and the organization needs to avoid an agency problem. Similarly, this formal scalability of authority, is explained by Mishal and Rosenthal (2005) through the intentional creation of “homogeneous and consistent interests” (Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005, p.10). The workers are controlled by their direct supervisor and can only act in the interest of the organization. A mandatory coercive management allows for a better control of the attacks and consequently impacts the effectiveness and the performance of the organization (Shapiro and Siegel, 2012).
  16. 16. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University16 Parameters Maintaining homogeneous interests and avoiding individual concerns is part of the bureaucratic structure strategy. In his fourteens principle of management, “Subordination of individual interest to general interest”, Fayol (1949) supports the idea that an individual interest or an interest of a group of individuals, should not overcome the general interest of the company. He defines it as “great difficulties of management” and stated that it is to be resolved it through “constant supervision” (Fayol, 1949, p.52). Thereby, bureaucratic structures are also characterized by a high level of behavioural control. Formalization and standardization of labor is a way to regulate, control and predict behaviours of middle level managers and operating core (Mintzberg, 1983). Utilization of appraisal reports is another way to ensure that the subordinate’s action has been well achieved (Shapiro and Siegel, 2012). In this way, strategic apex ensures diffusion of a same common and shared interest in order to achieve an accepted goal. Adherence of a common interest can also be ensured through training and indoctrination. It is another way to monitor processes used in the workplace and inoculate workers with required ideologies and values, impacting de facto procedures and actions of workers. According to Mintzberg’s work (1983), the level of training and indoctrination depends upon the hierarchical level occupied in the organizational structure. The more an individual is low in the hierarchy, the more he will be trained and indoctrinated (Table 1). Strategic apex Middle Level Operating Core Training - - + Indoctrination - + + Table 1: Mintzberg Theory: level of training and indoctrination needed depending of the hierarchical level. Source: offer
  17. 17. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University17 Based on Shapiro and Siegel’s (2012) work, the majority of terrorist organizations are structured on a hierarchical authoritarian process. Their research demonstrates that terrorist organizations cannot have naturally committed members which causes agency problems in the organization, impacting its effectiveness. According to them bureaucracy is the only solution to resolve these conflicts. Their research even concluded with a predictive view augmented the number of bureaucratic structures in terrorist organizations. Nevertheless, Mishal and Rosenthal (2005) provided the evidence of others forms of organizational structure, less formal and more flexible. Comas, Shrivastava, and Martin (2015), makes the distinction between “old” and “new” terrorism. The “new terrorism” being defined through the “social network theory” (Arquilla and Ronfeldt, 2001). 2.2.2 Network Structure and its Parameters Structure Opposed to bureaucratic structure, network structure can also be defined as organic or informal (Jones, 2010; Sorge 2002). It is characterized by Zanini and Edwards (2001) as an “effective alternative to traditional bureaucracies” (Zanini and Edwards, 2001, p.31), focusing more on standardization of processes than on direct control and supervision (Mintzberg, 1983). Network structure is then characterized through a flat hierarchy (without direct supervision) (Zanini and Edwards, 2001), increasing the level of mutual adjustments6 , informal information (Mintzberg, 1983), and autonomy of members toward decision making (Zanini and Edwards, 2001). It is also characterized by its ability to increase the flexibility of the organization. The existence of this type of structure in terrorist organizations has been demonstrated by Mishal and Rosenthal (2005), explaining an improvement from a “pyramid-like structure” 6 « mutual adjustment achieves the coordination of work by the simple process of informal communication » (Mintzberg, 1983, p.4)
  18. 18. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University18 (Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005, p.9) as an effective strategy. This is a theory in accordance with scholars supporting the correlation between a development of network strategy and a desire of effectiveness (Jones, 2002). Network structure consists of a network of cells or nodes, segregated from hierarchical control, whereby information is transferred through informal and horizontal communication channels (Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005; Comas, Shrivastava, Martin, 2015). The aim is to increase self-management and autonomy of members in their actions (Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005; Comas, Shrivastava, C. Martin, 2015) through a decentralized power (Zanini and Edwards, 2001). Mishal and Rosenthal (2005) and Ronfeldt and Arquilla (2001) put great emphasis on three different types of networks existing in terrorist organizations and evolving from resilient to fragmented (Polymorphic framework, Comas, Shrivastava, Martin, 2015). First, “the chain network” is a “linear chain” of nodes permitting the transfer of information. (Figure 2)7 . Most of the time individuals pass on the information without knowledge of who ordered the action, the information’s content and the final action of it (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001). Second, “the hub network” or “clique network” (Shapiro, 2005, p.8) is characterized by one hub cell, the “central node” (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001) which has control of all of the information (Figure 1). This node is linked to the other cells and coordinates with them. And finally, “the all- channel network” where all cells get information and communicate with every other cell (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001). 7 Cx represents one cell and N1 the central node
  19. 19. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University19 Parameters Shapiro put the “interconnectedness” as a parameter of organizational design. It represents the “average number of connections” (Shapiro, 2005, p.10) that a cell in the organization has with another cell, through the “degree of centrality”8 (Shapiro, 2005, p.8). With respect to the previous type of network, the more the network is interconnected (the more there are connections between cells), the more the level of mutual adjustment is high and the level of control inexistent (Mintzberg, 1983; and Shapiro, 2005). According to Ronfeldt and Arquilla (2001), analysing the growth of network forms in organization and the extension of global network development, the network design is based on a powerful communication and information sharing system, as well as on very tight links between individuals of the network (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001). Ronfeldt and Arquilla (2001) based their theory on three levels relevant for this research. First, the doctrinal level suggesting that the degree of shared ideology is so high that individuals do not need their leader telling them what to do, evoking a natural commitment. The “leaderless” (Ronfeldt and 8 Measure the average number of connections of an individual in the network (Shapiro, 2005, p.8) C1 C5C3C2 C4 N1C4 C1 C2 C3 The linear chain network The hub network Figure 2: The types of network structure Source: offer (Shapiro, 2005; Zanini and Edwards, 2001)
  20. 20. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University20 Arquilla,2001, p.333) doctrine also suggests that a network form must tell a story about itself and its ideology, helping people adhere. Second, the “social underpinnings” (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001, p.341), level advocates a high degree of confidence between members, as well as the belonging aspect to a real community, referencing to the attempt of creating a new identity. Third, it requires a “technological infrastructure” (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001, p.339), able to respond to the communication needs and enhancing the coordination of tasks and the external communication through media and social media (Zanini and Edwards, 2001; and Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001). Therefore, a decentralized design needs to be highly connected (Shapiro, 2005), and considering Zanini and Edwards’s (2001) theory the use of new technologies is nowadays capital in a terrorist organization’s effectiveness. Access to new technologies allows organizations to conduct a global strategy, to recruit members and make propaganda through media and social media, a main point considering the importance the ideology takes in terrorist organizations. 2.3 Trade-off Between Effectiveness and Security The higher the control level is throughout the organization, the higher the security. One reason to exercise control in the organization, is to maintain a homogeneous interest. According to Shapiro (2005), there are two different types of control: control over resources (person, finance, land) and control over operations. There are then four different types of hierarchal levels from centralized to decentralized power assessing the degree of hierarchy. The Table 2 summarizes Shapiro’s (2005) theory that states the more an organization exercises control, the more it is based on a hierarchical structure.
  21. 21. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University21 Structure Control Centralized Operations and Resources De Facto Centralized - Delegates operations but has the credible ability to monitor them - Or delegates resources but has the credible ability to engage in violent actions De Facto Decentralized - Delegates operations but does not have the credible ability to monitor them - Or delegates resources but does not have the credible ability to engage in violent actions Decentralized No Control 2.2.1 Effectiveness Trade-off A bureaucratic design has a high degree of hierarchy and a centralized control. This extreme control allows the maintenance of a common ideology through indoctrination, training and supervision. Control enhances the effectiveness of the organization, through a high level of coordination of tasks and a strict specialization of those tasks (Fayol, 1949). This is an important aspect in terrorist organizations, considering the number of tasks they have to deal with such as the preparation of operations the monitoring of these operations, the supply of materials for these operations, the managements of members etc. Moreover, terrorist organizations will always need to deal with agency problems that reduce the organization’s effectiveness, and bureaucracy is the only solution to resolve it (Shapiro and Siegel, 2012). However, the non flexible aspect of hierarchy and its incapability to communicate or share information effectively could impede a global development strategy. In particular, when we take into consideration the importance of media and the speed development of new technologies, a flexible structure would be better able to adapt and follow the move. Table 2: Assessing the degree of hierarchy. Source: offer
  22. 22. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University22 Network design is flexible and is characterized through its strong adaptability. Moreover, it is based on strong communication and a high level of interconnectedness, allowing faster exchanges. The easy and rapid connection between cells, allowing the sharing of information and skills, permits a better planning of the attacks (Shapiro, 2005), increasing de facto the effectiveness. However, this type of design is based on “ideological guidance” (Shapiro, 2005), counting on the people’s loyalty and commitment, a vague and uncertain feature. Mishal and Rosenthal (2005) confirm it by demonstrating an increase in divergence of interests among members, as well as a loss in ideology and value adhesion, which is an issue that also creates agency problem (Shapiro, 2005). Nevertheless, the effectiveness of a network design is discussed by most authors who consider that flexibility and interconnected are two main considerable assets (Mintzberg, 1983; Shapiro, 2005; Mishal and Rosenthal, 2005; Zanini and Edwards, 2001; and Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001). 2.2.2 Security Trade-off If the majority of authors succeed in agreeing on the effectiveness of network structure, things are different when the debate discusses the security this structure provides. Zanini and Edwards (2001) demonstrate that the myriad of cells and information is a potential power in front of government counterterrorism which could lose itself in the flows of communication and information. Moreover, he points toward the development of cryptic technologies, allowing the organization to hide and keep secret data. He also suggested the impact of face-to-face interactions, enhanced in network design and leaving no trace. However, Mishal and Rosenthal (2005) rightly examines the easiness with which a network can be broken. The destruction of one cell can destroy the entire network. In that sense, Shapiro (2005) explains that in case of solid threat or government pressure, terrorist organizations tend to recover on a
  23. 23. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University23 bureaucratic and hierarchical level. Suggesting that this design is more secure, in particular due to the high control parameter. However, Siegel and Shapiro (2012) suggest a decrease in security, because of the physical evidence left with a bureaucratic design, reports, papers and written rules. This is an argument that is also valid in the case of a network design with internet evidence. Considering the framework, there is no perfect design providing an effective and a secure organization. Terrorist organizations need to make a decision according to their goals and their environment. This is the reason why Ronfeldt and Arquilla, (2001) and Shapiro (2005) suggest the existence of more effective hybrid designs, a mix between bureaucracy and network. In this case, Shapiro (2005) announces the importance for the organization is to always have a “safe haven” based on bureaucracy, allowing to secure the heart of the organization. Moreover, as Mishal and Rosenthal (2005) with the Al-Qaeda example, he claims that for survive order and security reasons, a complete decentralization and interconnectedness are the best strategy. However, it destroys all eventuality of achieving the organization’s political goals. As a conclusion, the literature points toward two contrasted organizational designs, each one conceived and implemented to achieve the organization’s goals through a different strategy. The bureaucratic design is mainly characterized by its high level of control and supervision, whereas the network design establishes the decentralization of power and a high level of autonomy in the decision-making process. Moreover, the literature establishes the correlation between the strategic decision of organizational design in order to fulfil a need or purpose of effectiveness and performance. Nevertheless, terrorist organizations have this particularity other organizations don’t have, which is that they need to deal with the security aspect generated by counterterrorism intelligence agencies. This threat is defined as a turbulent
  24. 24. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University24 environment in which organizations evolve. Thus, the literature review allows the research to focus on one main feature developed in Section 3 (Hypothesis Development).
  25. 25. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University25 3. Hypothesis Through the development of a hypothesis, the paper attempts to shed light on the reasons behind the new ISIS effectiveness phenomenon through an undemonstrated supposition, evolving its organizational design (Hair, et al., 2007). The theoretical framework from the literature review, first suggest the potential relationship between a chosen organizational design strategy and the evolution of that organization’s performance and/or effectiveness. Second, it advances the potential adaptability of this strategy in response to a need of security and/or effectiveness. Based on a case study of the Islamic State, the analysis of this paper is then conducted around one nondirectional hypothesis (H1): H1: The organizational design is an adapted strategy according to that organization’s need for effectiveness and/or security.
  26. 26. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University26 4. Methodology 4.1 Research Philosophy This case study on the Islamic State refers to actual facts, reflecting the reality of a social and a political condition and assessing the study’s realism philosophy. However, this reality that the analysis attempts to demonstrate, is conditioned by a reality relayed by media and experts, with their own a critical points of view toward the data (Section X). Therefore, the research is characterized by a critical realism philosophy (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012). The analysis aims to analyse the actual ISIS organizational design through the interpretation of data. The philosophy of this research, therefore, is also based on an interpretive approach with a subjective perspective (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012). 4.2 Research Design 4.2.1 Research Approach To conduct this research, the paper employs an abductive approach (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012), by formulating and proposing a new concept, or idea, on the ISIS case. The observation of the ISIS phenomenon, entails revealing evidence and determining its potential cause, what produced the data observed. Then, the conclusion is made through a hypothesis, highlighting the probability that ISIS effectiveness is due to a cause, namely its organizational design. 4.2.2 Research Purpose This approach fits with the research purpose using “descripto-explanatory research” (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012, p.171).
  27. 27. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University27 Indeed, the paper outlines the actual ISIS situation, answering the questions “what is going on?” (Baxter, and Jack, 2008,) and “why is it going on?” (Baxter, and Jack, 2008). These two questions suggest the existence of a potential tie between the description of the ISIS phenomenon and its explanation through the study of its organizational form. 4.2.3 Qualitative Method To obtain an accurate description and a detailed explanation of the phenomenon, in others words, to fit with the research purpose the choice of qualitative methodology is the most appropriate. This research is characterized through the collection of “non-numeric data” (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012, p.161) comprising newspapers, documentaries, articles etc. (Section 3.3.5) and highlighting “the mono method qualitative research design” (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012, p.165) of the study. This means that the data collection technique is based only upon one methodology in this case, the collection of secondary data only. The choice of a qualitative methodology based only on secondary data collection, provides access to a large range of data, allowing initially, the transcription of the most realistic appraisal available of the ISIS organization, corresponding with the research philosophy. Second, the researcher is able to triangulate this data and interpret results, in fulfilment with the interpretive philosophy of this research paper.
  28. 28. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University28 4.2.4 Research Strategy Since the research question of this paper is to appreciate the effectiveness of terrorist organizations through their organizational design, the analysis is articulated around a single case study strategy on ISIS. First, the case study strategy focuses on one particular and absolute phenomenon, almost not analysed. Then it has the advantage of bringing data and knowledge into the academic field. Second, considering the amount of terrorist organizations and the amount of studies made to understand them, the case study strategy allows the analysis to focus on one particular organization. This allows to sort the data and provide to the reader a detailed analysis. It is also a convenient way to apply a descripto-explanatory purpose and study with accuracy the potential relationship between organizational design and effectiveness However, since it focuses on one case, ISIS, the findings are specific to this case, and it is complicated to conclude with a general trend, or to apply the findings to every other terrorist organization. 4.2.5 Time Horizon The time horizon of this research is longitudinal. The principal strength this gives to the research is its capability to analyse evolution and “to study change and development” (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012, p.190). It is in opposition to the “screenshot” idea. Another strength developed in this research, is the fact that ISIS is actually happening every day, allowing the analysis of novel day-to-day data. However, one should note that the conclusion of the analysis, might no longer be valid in two months.
  29. 29. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University29 4.3 Data Collection 4.3.1 Data Analysis It is extremely complicated to assemble primary information about terrorist organizations. First, it can seriously jeopardise your own safety or liberty. In the actual context, governments have established strong security systems that control individual privacy, and no one really knows how they work and how they decide that you’re a potential threat for the country or not. For instance, visiting a jihadist’s website, or contacting one of them through social media to collect information, could place you in trouble with the judicial system or put your name on the United States of America Watchlists9 or ‘no-fly-list’10 . Second, most of the time information is hidden by the organization itself or by intelligence agencies, which cannot diffuse specific information, because of security issues involving the person involve in the investigation, or other elements of the investigation itself. However, sometimes journalists and media gain exceptional access to members of the terrorist organization and collect very useful information, or they have contact with an operational source that collects information for them. Considering this statement, the choice of secondary data was not only logical but also inevitable, given the rational inability of collecting primary data. Secondary data are easily available, and moreover nowadays, with an abundant range of data on internet. Using this type of data saves time and money (Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill, 2012) and facilitates the research. Concerning the topic of this research, data were in a majority easily available through open websites and free newspapers. The timeliness of the topic makes newspaper articles published almost every day on ISIS and its evolution, making information 9 This list encompasses every name considered as a potential terrorist threat (,2016; FB, 2016) 10 This list identifies the names of known or suspected terrorists, preventing them from flying in or out of the territory (, 2007)
  30. 30. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University30 even more accessible. However, useful data on the website TRAC (Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium), concerning actual analysis of the ISIS structure, or the way they act and operate, was inaccessible. Moreover, very specific information on the ISIS organization, such as the number of its members, the budget it has access to, certain names of managers, or the very precise way it conducts and organizes attacks, is complicated to estimate or obtain. Consequently, this analysis does not base its research on this type of information. Therefore, according to the restricted information available, the aim of this research was to collect as much data as possible, to extract the most information possible, to triangulate this information as best as possible, and then to render the best interpretation of the ISIS phenomenon and the most accurate and realistic analysis possible. To do so, a “multi-source” collection type has been necessary. Media: Newspapers, Magazines, Documentaries, Independent Media Le Monde, the Guardian and The Atlantic furnish the study with information on facts such as numbers, communication tools, interviews of experts etc. The Guardian provides a very important and useful document from ISIS: “The Principles of the Administration of the Islamic State”, constituting a strong foundation for the analysis. It describes with accuracy the rules governing the organization, as well as the administration it must carry out. It outlines the way information must be exchanged, how members must specialize themselves, the autonomy and the level of supervision they must have, how they communicate with each other and who has the control on what. The independent media, Vice News, makes dangerous documentaries in the field, allowing this research to have access to interviews of the organization’s members, or populations suffering from the organization’s occupation.
  31. 31. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University31 Documents (files and book) from ISIS organization The research utilizes documents written by terrorist members and more specifically thinkers of the terrorist organization. Principally, two documents have been used: “The Principles of the Administration of the Islamic State”, written by Abu Abdullah al-Masri and published by The Guardian on the December 7th 2015. Another important source was the document revealing the structure of ISIS, written by Haji Bakr, one of the most important strategic head of the group (Reuter, 2015), and published by Der Spiegel (a German newspaper) on the 18th of April 2015. The Haji Bakr’s document was found in his house after he was killed by Syrian rebels in 2014 (Reuter, 2015). Experts’ publications and information (websites) The fact that the Guardian and Der Spiegel published the documents cited earlier, is thanks to Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a graduate of Brasenose College and Oxford University. Al-Tamimi is also a Jihad-Intel Research Fellow at the US based Middle East Forum, where he has created his own website, constituting an impressive archive that includes more than 120 IS operational documents (Lewis, 2015). The free access to his website has been a huge help throughout the data collection process. Then, the social network Twitter has been useful to find data published by experts on the middle-east and terrorism situation. The list of experts includes David Thompson, a French journalist and writer, specialist on the French jihadist and the Tunisia situation (, 2016), and Rukmini Callimachi, who is a foreign correspondent for the New York Times and covers Islamic extremism including the Islamic State (, 2016).
  32. 32. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University32 Marc Trevidic, a French judge who exercised ten years as counterterrorism Judge, had the opportunity to collect large samples of jihadists testimonies. His experience of the terrorism phenomenon and his book “Terrorism les 7 pilliers de la déraison” (Terrorism 7 pillars of the unreasonableness) were used to evidence several facts in the analysis. Finally, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) is a public policy research organization and provides a large number of studies and analysis on the actual ISIS situation. The majority of the studies used for the purpose of this research, were written by Harleen Gambhir, a counterterrorism analyst, focusing especially on the global strategy and operations of ISIS. (Institute for the Study of War, 2016). 4.3.2 Data Credibility Medias: Newspaper, Magazines, documentaries, independent media Considering the actuality of the topic, newspapers publish a great deal everyday on the ISIS organization, making the flow of information very sizeable. Newspapers know that this kind of topic interests people and makes them read or buy their news. For example, during the Paris or the Brussels attacks, plenty of newspapers were giving information about what happened, how it happened and why it happened. But in this kind of event, data verification is primordial. In fact, and unfortunately, even during this kind of dramatic event, numerous entities tried to benefit from these tragedies. The number of false information circulating to make a profit were sizable. This is the reason, why by using newspapers as a source of data, the challenge was to verify the information, with other newspapers for example. Moreover, only international or national newspapers were used, since they are known for their seriousness in journalism. These newspapers like Le Monde and the Guardian, are also known for the budget they have access to, facilitating their ability to get valid information.
  33. 33. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University33 Documents (files and book) from ISIS organization In spite of the usefulness of these data to comprehend how the organization functions and evolves, it is paramount to keep in mind that the information has been written by the organization’s members. Consequently, although the data reveal the organization’s aims, there is no way of determining whether these goals were accomplished in reality. To deal with this aspect, the research attempts to prove statements through testimonies from old, captured or actual jihadists, or through experts’ publication on the area: for example Aymenn Jawad al- Tamimi‘s website or ISW studies. However, testimonies also bring a subjectivity point of view. They are only representing the organization through the regard of the person being interviewed. This person might not have complete knowledge of the real functioning of the organization, or he/she could assert false information for strategic, ideological, personal, or any other reasons. Experts’ publications and information Experts previously cited are internationally recognized as being specialist in their field. They are known for their work and have a real non negligible experience. This attests the reliability and credibility of their information.
  34. 34. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University34 5. Analysis and findings The Islamic State terrorist organization has been mentioned and debated for two years now. It is a new phenomenon with a strong, powerful and destructive ideology (Mouline, 2016). As every terrorist organization, ISIS has goals, and it seems to get closer and closer to them. This suggests the development and the establishment of an effective strategy to achieve them. The aim of this analysis is to demonstrate that organizational design of the organization is largely responsible for its effectiveness. To appreciate this effectiveness, the analysis first considers the hierarchical and centralized structure of the organization in its controlled territories (Iraq and Syria) and then the design parameters, which enhance the success of the design strategy. Second, we focus on the hybrid design chosen by the organization, which has established an important network all other the world. This strategy shift could be the organization’s response toward a need of effectiveness or even a complete change of its goal. 5.1 The Effectiveness of ISIS Previously called ISI, the “Islamic State in Iraq” (Dawlat al-Iraq al-Islamiy) (al-Tamimi, 2015b), the organization became ISIS the “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham” (al-Dawla al- Islamiya fil Iraq wa al-Sham) (al-Tamimi, 2015d) when it succeeds to conquest Syria. This victory was a huge and remarkable step for ISIS allowing it to consolidate its power in the area, through the proclamation of a caliphate11 in Iraq and Syria, on the 29th of 2014 (Wood, 2015). This enables the organization to finally proclaim IS the “Islamic State” (al-Tamimi, 2015d)12 . 11 A state where the sharia is applied and enforced (, 2013) 12 However, both term are correct ISIS and IS (al-Tamimi, 2016)
  35. 35. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University35 Since the fall of the caliphate after the death of Mahomet13 in 632 (Plasse, 2013), the Islamic State, as many terrorist organizations before, fixed its purpose as the re-creation of an international caliphate (Plasse, 2013), enforcing the sharia14 as universal law and instituting a social and political model as old as the VII century (Plasse, 2013). This aim can be achieved through the jihad15 , by the conquest of new territories and the elimination of kouffar16 (Naji, 2007)17 . They adapted this strategy in accordance with these purposes. An emphasis on the geographical development of ISIS and a review of its attacks remains imperative to understanding the effectiveness of the organization, first through its control of territories demonstrating its expansion and development, and second through the number of successful attacks, with a large number of lethality, and great degree of fear instilled. 5.1.1 Geographical Effectiveness: Mapping ISIS When ISIS proclaimed its caliphate in June 2014 (Wood, 2015), it was already well extended in Iraq and Syria (Lewis, 2014), controlling numerous “wilayas18 ” or provinces and towns as shown in Figure 3. The organization controls al-Raqqa in Syria, the political capital, and Mossoul in Iraq, the financial capital (Un Sunnistan Pris en Etau, 2016). (The two cities are shown by a black arrow). 13 Name of the prophet in the Islam religion (, 2013) 14 Describes in the Koran as the Islamic law (, 2013) 15 Translated “The holy war” in English 16 Translated “infidel” in English, this word is used to describes every person who does not follow the sharia in the jihadist sense and will. 17 Abu Bakr Naji is the presumed author of the book « Gestion de la barbarerie » (Management of the savagery). There is any insurance of his identity. 18 Provinces or departments in Arabic (al-Tamimi, 2016)
  36. 36. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University36 After the caliphate was proclaimed, ISIS’ expansion was accelerated and out of the controlled of the local armies or rebel groups. This striking expansion, was characterized by two main points. First, all their actions were strategic moves next to oil (al-Jabseh or Deiro Field) (Solomon, Kwong and Bernard, 2016) or gas (Jahar) (Zaimov, 2014) fields, allowing an autonomy to the organization. Second, this expansion was driven through a “glocal” strategy, aiming to conduct actions locally in a first place, (Figure 4), and globally in a second place (Figure 6) (Mouline, 2016), to control international territories through the establishment of provinces. Figure 3: ISIS attack and control zones: June 23, 2014 (Lewis, 2014, p.3)
  37. 37. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University37 Figure 5 and 6, represent the rapid geographical development of ISIS respectively inside its controlled territories, and its provinces, in 2016. Figure 5 highlights a striking similitudes with ISIS pretentions (Figure 4), demonstrating the effectiveness of its strategy in order to achieve its goals. Figure 6 evidences the fast expansion of ISIS through its regional campaign (establishment of provinces), enhancing its control and influence, and de facto its effectiveness. Figure 4: ISIS envisioned boundaries (Lewis and Ali, 2014) Figure 5: ISIS Sanctuary Map: April 22, 2016 (Gambhir, 2016a). Note that since the map has been done ISIS has lost the cities of Palmyra in Syria and the Hit district in Iraq (Gambhir, 2016a)
  38. 38. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University38 As said earlier, after the proclamation of the caliphate, the development of the terrorist organization was very fast. The Table 1, demonstrates this fast development by showing the dates when many provinces, outside controlled territories, proclaimed allegiance to the new caliph. This will help the reader to understand the chronology of the events. Figure 6: ISIS’s Regional Campaign: January 2016 (Coyne and Gambhir, 2016)
  39. 39. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University39 This geographical map emphasizes the effectiveness of the organization to develop and exercise influence and power over territories through provinces. Moreover, it highlights the extended and large control ISIS has in many regions of the world. Date of recognition by the caliph Name of the proclaimed province Leader of the province Egypt (Pellegrino, 2015) 10 November 2014 Wilâyat Sînâ’ (Sinai) Libya (Pellegrino, 2015) 13 November 2014 Wilâyat Barqa (Cyrenaica) Abu Habeeb Al-Jazrawi Unknown Wilâyat Fazzân (Fezzan) 13 November 2014 Wilâyat Tarâbulus (Tripoli) Hassan Karami, also known as Abu Mu‘awiya al-Libi Algeria (Pellegrino, 2015) 13 November 2014 Wilâyat al-Jazâ’ir (Algeria Khaled Abu Suleimane Yemen (Pellegrino, 2015) 13 November 2014 Wilâyat Yaman Saudi Abu Bilal al-Harbi. Identified by expert but not officially a leader Saudi Arabia (Pellegrino, 2015) 14 November 2014 Wilâyat Najd (il Najd) and Wilâyat Haramayn (the two Holy Cities) Afghanistan and Pakistan (Pellegrino, 2015) January 2015 Wilâyat Khurâsân (Khorasan) Sheykh Maqbool – war name Shahid Shahidullah Russia (Gambhir, 2015a) 23 June 2015 Wilâyat Qawqâz (Caucasus) Abu Mahammad al-Qadari (Gambhir, 2015a) Nigeria (Pellegrino, 2015) 7 March 2015 Wilâyat Gharb Ifrîqiyâ (West Africa) Abubakr Shekau (leader of Boko Haram) Bangladesh September 2015 (Zerrouky et al., 2016) Unknown (Zerrouky et al., 2016) Table 3: Provinces which proclaimed allegiance to the Islamic State. Source: offer
  40. 40. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University40 5.1.2 Operational Effectiveness Defined as the most lethal terrorist organization in the world by Zerrouky et al. (2016), Le Monde published an article on March 25th 2016 which laid down the number of casualties to 2,669 from the declaration of a caliphate (June 2014) until March 2016 (Figure 7) (Zerrouky et al., 2016). As a comparison, the other most notorious terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda, reached a casualty level of 4,400 lives taken in sixteen years from 1992 to 2008 (The Economist and NPSGlobal, 2011)19 . In other words, Al-Qaeda attributed attacks are not even equal to twice the numbers of ISIS attacks with fourteen more years of activity. This illustrates the extreme lethality of ISIS compares to Al-Qaeda. Surprisingly, ISIS’ attacks in its controlled territories represent 19.86%20 (less than 1/3) of the total of the attacks with only 530 casualties. However, 51.82%, or more than the half, of casualties are concentrated in its declared provinces with a total of 1383 lives taken. This represents a high proportion, highlighting the impact of ISIS’s provinces on its effectiveness 19 See Appendix 1 for the detail 20 Calculation based on Figure 7 Figure 7: ISIS perpetrated attacks by countries and with how many casualties by country (Zerrouky et al., 2016) Territories controlled by ISIS Total number of casualties at this date: 2669
  41. 41. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University41 and the importance they represent for the organization’s ability to spread fear and exercise control. These casualties represent 129 attacks perpetrated by the organization or its affiliate groups in 24 countries (Zerrouky et al., 2016). ISIS’s effectiveness is highlighted through its geographical development, its attacks and casualties. The analysis demonstrates that this high level of effectiveness is in part due to its organizational design. 5.2 Organizational Design in Controlled Territories (Iraq and Syria) The Islamic State established in Iraq and Syria a safe haven (Gambhir, 2016b) corresponding to a protected base controlling resources and operations on the territory, through strict hierarchy and bureaucracy. Al-Tamimi, sent to The Guardian secret documents describing the ISIS master plan to become a state. Published on December 7th 2015, “The Principles of the Administration of the Islamic State”, written by Abu Abdullah al-Masri, explains and accurately describes the rules governing the organization, as well as the administration it must attends to. It outlines the way information must be exchanged, the specialisation of members, the autonomy and the level of supervision they must have, how they communicate with each other and who has the control on what. In other words, it outlines the structure and parameters constituting the organizational design of the group (al-Masri, 2015). However, these documents only describe the main tenets of the terrorist’s organization and not how the details of these principles have been applied on the real field. Within the analysis, some of the principles have been proven through evidence collected by journalists or experts aiming to validate information (Section 4.3.2).
  42. 42. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University42 5.2.1 Bureaucratic Structure Controlling resources and operations The declaration of the caliphate allows the Islamic state to structure its organization through a more formal and central hierarchical structure (al-Tamimi, 2015c, cited in Lewis, 2015). It entails control over population and resources as seen in Figure 8. This representation of the organizational structure of the Islamic State has been made according to papers recovered by Al-Tamimi21 , and published by the German News paper Der Spiegel (Section 4.3.1). These papers represent thirty-one pages of secret information revealing the structure of the Islamic State (Reuter, 2015), based on control and supervision. It reveals 21 The original can be consulted in Appendix 2. It has been translated from the Arabic to the English for the purpose of this study Figure 8: Organizational structure of the Islamic State. Source: Offer
  43. 43. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University43 how the control has been thought and how it must be applied to ensure the effectiveness and the organization’s survival. This structure shows us who has the control and on what. The caliph seems to be the strong hand, monitoring every activity. In other words, he has control over resources (people, finance, security etc.) and over operations (military council), indicating a “centralized and hierarchical” structure in reference to the hierarchical degree of Shapiro (2005). The strategic decisions are made by the top of the pyramid, the strategic apex, constituted by the caliph, the Cabinet, the Sharia and the Shura Council. The Sharia Council’s mission is to supervise all the “Diwan” committees (Reuter, 2015) of the organization, and to uphold the sharia law within these committees (Mezzofiore, 2015). The organigram made by specialize website TRAC allows us to confirm that the organization, as conceived by Bakr, has been mostly applied (TRAC, 2015 cited by Mezzofiore, 2015). In addition, an analysis of how the structure and committees (Councils on the Figure x) are administered, allows us to get a better picture of the hierarchical relationships within the Figure 9: Islamic Leadership structure: overview of how the militant group is organized based on a TRAC (2014) research (Mezzofiore, 2015)
  44. 44. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University44 structure, detailing the way the power is administered and the supervision applied. This information is mainly based on Haji Bakr documents (Reuter, 2015). Administration of the structure and committees The Islamic State is based on a directive administration divided into numerous committees, each exercising a specific function22 (Al-Tamimi, 2015c), and supervised by the Sharia, the most powerful and important body (Mezzofiore, 2015), and and the Shura Council, the advisor body (al-Masri, 2015). Some committees can operate on two levels, the regional (provinces or wilayât) and the district level (local) (Reuter, 2015), others operate only on the regional or the district level. In each of these two levels there is a manager, or “emir” (Reuter, 2015) in charge of supervising other middle-level managers, or “deputy-emir” leading a division of the committee. The emir in charge of the district has to report to the regional emir and inversely, the regional emir has to supervise the district emir (Reuter, 2015), (Figure x). This hierarchy follows the unity of command principle (Fayol, 1949). Indeed, each deputy-emir or middle-level manager reports to one supervisor only, avoiding threatening the authority of the supervisor. This enhances the effectiveness of orders, because they cannot be contradicted through the problem of dual command (Fayol, 1949). Moreover, as seen in Figure x, the division of departments is explicit and clean, preventing dual command risks. It also demonstrated a strict division of every activity, referring to a strict specialization of tasks and coordination. Then the hierarchy follows the scalar chain principle (Fayol, 1949), establishing a distinguishable authority line, from the operating core to the strategic apex (Mintzberg, 1983) following a rational-legal-authority line. Everything has been thought through to enhance control and supervision processes, to ensure that the job be done correctly and efficiently: “in 22 Appendix 3 for the committees list.
  45. 45. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University45 case they don’t do their job well” (Haji Bakr cited by Reuter, 2015). The various red and green flows on Figure 1023 illustrate the strict supervision and high need for report establish inside a committee. They also suggest a high coordination of tasks. This structure made according to Haji Bakr and al-Masri documents was demonstrated by a BBC News investigation also based on the Haji Bakr documents (Lewis, 2015). Lewis’ (2015) structure corresponds mainly to what we obtained by following the Bakr written documents, however it is less accurate. 23 The number of Deputy-Emir in each level is fictitiout Figure 10: Islamic State (IS) command structure (Lewis, 2015)
  46. 46. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University46 In addition to a high and strict degree of hierarchy and supervision, the Islamic State structure is based on reports. Each level of hierarchy has to make reports of what it did or Figure 11: Supervising and Reporting Flows inside a committee. Source: offer
  47. 47. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University47 intends to do; Al-Tamimi (2015c) has regrouped some of them on his website (Appendix 4 and 5). These administrative documents show once again that every rules procedures or behavior to adopt, is written, reducing autonomy of members and enhancing supervision and control. This emphasis on the high bureaucratic structure of ISIS indicates a strict and organized processes in an authoritarian and hierarchical organization. Nevertheless, a focus on the design parameters established by this bureaucratic structure, provide a better explanation of the impact of the organizational design on its effectiveness. 5.2.2 Bureaucratic Design Parameters Through the analysis of the organizational structure of the Islamic State, control is determined to be the main feature of its design. The control on operations is done through a control on personnel: supervision, brain washing and indoctrination. To achieve this level of control, ISIS uses typical organizational parameters. This section is mainly based on “The Principles of the Administration of the Islamic State” (al-Masri, 2015), written by Abu Abdullah al-Masri and published by The Guardian. Division of labor: camp administration The training camp is a demonstration of the strict and hierarchical bureaucratic structure of ISIS organization, considered as “the house and the school of the mujahid24 ” (al-Masri, 2015), These training camps are divided into three divisions, depending on the expertise of the mujahid, which illustrates the “division of work” (Fayol, 1949). In fact, the first category is the continuation camp, reserved for the leader of the jihad (al-Masri, 2015), or for experts in the 24 Solder of the jihad
  48. 48. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University48 planning and the management of operations. The second category is the first preparation camp, conceived for new recruits; it trains them and allows them, during their formation, to choose a speciality in accordance with their skills. This highlights a strict specialization of tasks, enhancing coordination. The documents demonstrate that the terrorist organization has understood that people need to be competent in their jobs to then boost the effectiveness of the organization; put people at the right place. “screening of every mujahid in a specialty in which he excels and completing his camp according to his skill in specific weapons” (al-Masri, 2015) To sustain the organization’s expansion, al-Masri also requires “skills of expertise” and strong qualifications. Thereby, the mujahid is strongly prepared physically and technically, with fighting and weapon handling courses and they are strictly selected. As demonstrated by Mintzberg (1983), training is primordial to ensure the good execution of tasks. The more members are performant, the more their jobs are well-done, thus enhancing the effectiveness of the organization. “We arrived more than a week ago at Darounta [Darounta is the best training camp], and it is the first time I have the strength to go back to my diary. It’s really hard, way more hard than I imagined. We have a chief instructor, Abou Abdallah. He explained to us that the first month of formation’ purpose is to weed out the brothers not sufficiently motivated to suffer in the name of the All-Great.” Abou Hamza (Trevidic, 2014, p.164) Bureaucratic form is used by ISIS to control the training of its members and ensure high performance soldiers on the field.
  49. 49. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University49 In addition to regular hands-on training, camps provide mujahid sharia sessions, aimed at instilling perfect knowledge of the Koran. The second purpose of these training camps is to ensure the indoctrination of members, which proves the third category of camp, the children camp. “I’m overjoyed about the training. I shoot with a Kalash, a G3, a BK, a RPG and even with a mortar. We also have classes about explosives, blast-off systems and poisons. […]. Yesterday we had a class on martyr and suicide operations. I was very attentive.” Abou Hamza (Trevidic, 2014, p.164) A quotation evidences the indoctrination through training camps, allowing the formation of suicide bombers, a key elements of ISIS effectiveness. Indoctrination to control an ideology By defining indoctrination as a calculated process, whereby values, beliefs, ideas and opinions are instilled in a sense so that an individual cannot even consider or envision another point of view, it is without doubt a tool to control members’ ideology and ensure the sharing of common and homogeneous interests. A common ideology and interests provide also the advantage to avoid agency problems, a constrain toward an effective development. To ensure the indoctrination of its members ISIS uses the sharia law. The evidence of this strategy is demonstrated in documents written by Haji Bakr, in which he explicitly explains how to use people’s faith to ensure an effective development of the organization in order to achieve its goals (Spiegel, 2015). The establishment of children camps demonstrates also this indoctrination will25 . 25 Example of courses attend by jihad children in Appendix 6
  50. 50. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University50 Therefore, in the three divisions of camp, sharia instruction aiming to broadcast the two main Islamic doctrines chosen by the Islamic state, al-wala’26 and al-bara’27 (al-Masri, 2015). Loyalty is instilled as a principle and a value, which guarantees the organization an eternal devotion and belief from its members, ready to do anything on the behalf on this so called loyalty. Moreover, ISIS aims to create a community, make people think they are part of a real family which looks after each other, to enhance their support of the cause and its ideology (Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001). When a muhajid arrives in the organization, he (or she) has to change his (her) name, leaving behind his prior identity (al-Masri, 2015) to become totally devoted to the cause. ISIS also become at the same time, the only thing he (she) has left. These practices have been verified through confessions and interviews, recorded from captured or escaped jihadists (Trevidic, 2014). “He ask us our names. We were surprised because we had already told him the day before. When we answered him, he became serious. He explained us that our previous names, we have to forget them”. Abou Hamza (Trevidic, 2014, p.161)28 Throughout this strict bureaucratic form ISIS exercises control over resources and operations which assesses a centralized power and a high degree of hierarchy. Members are trained and indoctrinated to provide better results on the field. The analysis put the assumption that an indoctrinated person is more susceptible to become a murderer or a suicide bomber 26 Loyalty 27 Disavowal 28 Words collected by Marc Trevidic from Abou Hamza a muhajid. Translated from the French.
  51. 51. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University51 (testimony of Abou Hamza), a significant characteristic impacting de facto the effectiveness of ISIS. Furthermore, this very strict and hierarchical structure reveals a security strategy employed by ISIS, with the creation of a safe haven (Shapiro, 2005) to protect the leaders. But, as stated by Siegel and Shapiro (2012), written documents can be found. The documents found by al-Tamimi and published by The Guardian (2015) and Reuter (2015), provide a verification of this argument considering the fact that without them, this research project could not have been conducted. However, having this type of information is apparently not enough to render the organization insecure. It is a way to get a better understanding of the structure and consequently the functioning. However, by following the theories previously exposed, this design of ISIS, because of its non flexible aspect, should not be enough to reach a level of effectiveness assessed previously, at a global scale. The organization has understood how to completely develop its agenda, and in an envisioned global strategy of influence in accordance with its goals, it established a large number of provinces affiliated to its organization but autonomous from its control. Moreover, it allows the creation of sleeper cells all over the world, enabling the formation of a sizeable and powerful network.
  52. 52. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University52 5.3 Hybrid Design ISIS has established its power in the region of Iraq and Syria and needed a new move to achieve a near abroad expansion campaign (Gambhir, 2015b), and ensure a larger geographical control. The establishment of provinces has proven its effectiveness toward these purposes. 5.3.1 De Facto Centralized Bureaucracy The provinces system was established by ISIS to enlarge its influence and effectiveness on a near abroad expansion campaign (Gambhir, 2015b). Indeed, this shift in strategy allowed the organization to monitor eleven regions in ten different countries (Table 3) all over the world, thereby creating a network of multiple regional cells. The organigram of the Caucasus province (Figure 12)29 , shows us that provinces stay quite autonomous from the Iraq-Syria cell. In fact, just under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the leader of the province. However, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi remains the last node of the hierarchy, putting the cell still under the authority of the caliph. This organigram suggests that ISIS has created a hub network, within which its controlled territories, in Iraq and Syria, became the hub cell, supervising all the actions. 29 The Al-Qaeda organigram has been kept but is not useful for the study
  53. 53. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University53 Moreover, the structure of the province is hierarchical, suggesting a bureaucratic structure inside the cell. Thus, this hybrid design is articulated around a de facto centralized degree of hierarchy, ensuring a control over resources (members), but delegating its control over operations to the province’s leader. This mix between bureaucracy and network strategy provides security and effectiveness to the organization. The control and the supervision of members is maintained, ensuring an effectiveness toward the actions taken, and the organization’s global presence is developed, de facto increasing its effectiveness in term of potential number of attacks. Figure 12: ISIS and al-Qaeda in the Caucasus: June 2015 (Gambhir, 2015a)
  54. 54. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University54 5.3.2 Hub Network What makes controlled territories (Iraq and Syria) the hub of this network, is also its ability to provide training to members. The establishment of training camps is more than necessary for the organization, providing the skills needed and an adherence to the ideology. ISIS has controlled at least 25 operating training camps, spread all over Syria and Iraq (11 in Iraq – 14 in Syria) (Roggio and Weiss, 2014). These camps provide training to all members of the organization, including foreign fighters from other cells. They come to Iraq or Syria, the hub cell, are trained and sent back to their country with the necessary skills and the appropriate way of thinking to perpetrate operations. “We will train them for a while and then dispatch them.” (Haji Bakr cited by Reuter, 2015). This process allows the organization to ensure an effectiveness within its cells, counting more than 15,000 foreign fighters in its camps, including 2,000 westerners among them (Joscelyn, 2014). One point we should consider with attention, however, is that these foreign fighters represent potentiality eighty different nationalities, demonstrating the effective striking impact of the ISIS global strategy. In December 2014, ISIS also established a training camp in a Libya province (BBC News, 2014), allowing willing fighters who cannot travel to controlled territories, because of border control for instance, to get train (Institute for the Study of War, 2015). This illustrates yet another aspect of ISIS’ strategy of effectiveness. Also noteworthy, the hierarchy needs to develop communication to keep in touch with these cells and maintain a form of control. As said in the literature review, the development of a strong system of communication and media is more than necessary in network design. And according to Rose (2014) ISIS has the most sophisticated system seen in terrorist organization until now. It is this strong communication system that allows it to create a sleeper cells network
  55. 55. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University55 all over the world and especially in Europe (Gambhir, 2016b). This step in its strategy, testified the development of its external operations (Gambhir, 2016b). 5.4 Sleeper Cell Network Design 5.4.1 Development of External Operations Development of external operations Through the establishment of provinces, ISIS conducted a near abroad campaign (Gambhir, 2015b), but kept the operations internally since provinces were under the authority of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. After the Paris attacks on the November 13th 2015 and the Brussels attacks on the March 22th 2016, experts (Gambhir, 2016b) argued in favour of new strategy of ISIS, developing external operations and conducting a far abroad or global campaign (Gambhir, 2015b) (Figure 13). Figure 13: ISIS’s Global strategy: July 2015 (Gambhir, 2015)
  56. 56. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University56 Indeed, the network of the organization is strengthened through the establishment of sleeper cells, logistically supported by its safe haven in Iraq and Syria (Gambhir, 2016b) that provide the fighters with the necessary training to be their own operator (Fox News, 2016) and perpetrate lone-wolf operations (Masi, 2015). This network is completely decentralized from the safe-haven power, which does not have control over resources and or over operations. However, it has a strong “ideological guidance” role. The sleeper cell network, is especially supported in Europe (Figure 14), with 1,700 French foreign fighters and 470 Belgian (Gambhir, 2016). The map, however, also shows an advanced development in Germany and Great Britain, confirming the effectiveness of the strategy lead by ISIS. Figure 14: ISIS’s Campaign in Europe: January 2014 to March 25, 2016 (Gambhir, 2016)
  57. 57. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University57 Jim Sciutto, journalist at CNN, argues that the strategic shift is due to a training process that has become too dangerous and complicated for the organization (Is ISIS changing its strategy?, 2015). Indeed, we are reminded of the existence of a no fly list in the USA that complicates the return of foreign fighters. In Europe, the going to and returning from Syria are also controlled, 1.462 French citizen are tracked by authorities (Messina, 2014). It, could provoke a strategic adaption to the environment, since the organization is facing government pressure. However, considering the previous reaction of terrorist organizations, if ISIS were suffering from a real danger or threat, they would have strengthened their bureaucratic structure and not developed their network (Shapiro 2005). Therefore, this strategic change is not the result of a security need but rather a need of effectiveness. Indeed, Gambhir (2016b) argues a new strategy, consisting of an exacerbation of conflicts within the Europe, aiming a lost of cohesion through a “cultural polarization” (Gambhir, 2016b), especially as regards the Muslim population. A new strategy which can be proven through a propaganda poster published by ISIS after the Paris attacks (Appendix 7) (Gambhir, 2016b) highlights the panic and the fear engendered after the organization attack. The spectacular and shocking attacks perpetrated in Paris and Brussels (respectively, 130 and 32 deaths) (Le, 2016) these last six months, are the striking evidence of the effectiveness of this network strategy. An effectiveness certainly due to the secret aspect of these cells, hardly detectable by governments as argued by (Zanini and Edward, 2001) but also strengthened through strong communication and media system. 5.4.2 Technological Infrastructure As demonstrated by Zanini and Edward (2001) a network design deeply needs to be supported by a strong technological infrastructure. And once again, ISIS has understood this by
  58. 58. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University58 presenting the most effective and advanced communicative and media system known so far in terrorist organizations (Rose, 2014). « Isis’s media sophistication is something new. » (Rose, 2014) Communication and media are used by ISIS as a weapon, a strategy providing recruitment and propaganda launch pads. It allows the organization to recruit members through social media (Rose, 2014; Atran, 2016). Rose (2014) has identified the presence of the organization on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, their presence has also been certified on Facebook and Skype by Atran (2016). In an interview given to Le Monde he claimed “members of ISIS spend hundreds of hours chatting with young people on Skype or Facebook to recruit” (Atan, 2016, p.33). Their presence in social media is a way to broadcast their ideology through videos, movies or articles and to maintain an indoctrination for foreign fighters, an alternative to the training camp. They have published a newspaper the “Al Hayat Media Center” and a magazine the « Dabiq » accessible in many languages (French, English, German) and targeting especially young people (Rose, 2014). This can be considered as evidence of the propaganda established by ISIS to diffuse its ideology and encourage people to join it. ISIS also posts testimony of young and foreign fighters. Nowadays no one is able to tell if the testimonies is true or arbitrated by the organization. ““I don’t think there’s anything better than living in the land of khilafah30 ” says Abu Abdullah al-Habashi, from Britain.” (Rose, 2014). We thus see that communication and media are a primordial aspect of their organization’s design. Developing its communication, has allowed ISIS to recruit new members and to launch 30 Caliphate in Arabic
  59. 59. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University59 impressive attacks far from its controlled territories. Its decentralized sleeper cell network design reflects the strong effectiveness of the organization so far. However, we cannot neglect the defeat of French intelligence agencies in the detection of the Paris Attacks. Indeed, the cell of Abdelhamis Abbaoud, leader of the attacks, was know by the Intelligence Agencies for a long time, and his nomination by ISIS, as the head of the cell, has been announced in Dabiq (al-Tamimi, 2015b), suggesting the knowledge of intelligence agency toward the information. Thereby, this effectiveness reached by ISIS could also be the result of an incompetence of the Western intelligence, as established by al-Tamimi (2015b). However, we must be careful on this point, seeing that no one has detailed information on what intelligence agencies have knowledge for or not. No one knows how they act everyday against the terrorist threat and in which extend they can intervene. The French law is strict and highly protective toward French individual and does not allow any intervention without a judicial permission. A legislation which can impede the setting up of actions. It is then tendentious to conclude on this point.
  60. 60. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University60 6. Conclusion The unconventional organizational form of the Islamic State, corresponding to a “three- dimensions hybrid design”, has definitely improved the overall effectiveness. Firstly, the bureaucratic design dimension provides the high degree of control and supervision needed; especially toward training and indoctrination, two main design parameters in the endorsement of effectiveness in terrorist organizations. Indeed, training has a positive impact on the efficiency of fighters and the preparation of operations when indoctrination broadcasts and maintains ideology, allowing a loyalty and devotion of members. Secondly, the hybrid design dimension, mixing hub network and bureaucracy, allows the organization to extend its controlled territories through provinces, inflict its power at an international scale, and enhance its near abroad campaign, by maintaining control and supervision over operations. Finally, the sleeper cell network design enhanced the global strategy planned by ISIS, first by an effective externalisation of its operations. Second, by the simultaneous development of strong communication and propaganda media system, providing training and indoctrination to the sleeper cells’ members, and making the technology infrastructure the node of the organization’s effectiveness toward its global strategy. Furthermore, the “three-dimensions hybrid design” also provides the Islamic State the security required. The development of this global network might begin to threaten the organization’s activity, with the multiple arrests of members and the destruction of a few cells in Europe, staining its organization. Nevertheless, experts estimate that the number of cells in Europe is huge (find number) suggesting a power still very much active throughout the network. And, as pointed out by Shapiro (2005), the preservation of a safe haven in Iraq and Syria protects, so far, the organization from government pressure.
  61. 61. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University61 To conclude, this “three-dimensions hybrid design” provides ISIS with an effectiveness and a security at a global scale so far. However, the design of the organization is not the only aspect enhancing its effectiveness and it is not the only feature we must understand and appreciate. Indeed, the strong ideology gathering the hole organization is a strong aspect also impacting its effectiveness. Therefore, understanding the organization design is the first step but understanding its ideology is the main step counterterrorism agencies must take.
  62. 62. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University62 7. Recommendation The analysis has demonstrated that the body core in Syria and Iraq was the most important and powerful body of the organization and in addition the safest one. Consequently, if this body of the organization falls, the entire organization would be destroyed, suggesting then that the counterterrorism force should concentrate its energy on the destruction of the safe haven. This suggestion has already been made by Gambhir (2016b), however, the findings of this paper wholeheartedly confirms her recommendation. This analysis outlines the importance accorded by ISIS to the diffusion of ideology, and its necessity of propaganda media and indoctrination, to ensure adhesion to the advocated ideology. The Islamic State is not the first terrorist organization to spread this jihadist ideology, and also not the last one. Al Qaeda in the Maghreb, the Hamas in Lebanon would be other examples. When al-Qaeda was strongly weakened by the United States, the most powerful leaders within the organization regrouped to create the Islamic State31 . This is because the ideology advocated by these groups is so strong and supported that it will always find another way to arise. After the proclamation of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the new caliph, a study lead by The Atlantic reveals the high numbers of supporters coming from many countries and adhering to the ideology. “The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing” (Wood, 2015). This declaration and the myriad of sleeper cells created in Europe suggest that a large number of supporters exist, to defend and advocate in their own way these values and beliefs, in most of the cases by creating their own cell and acting as a lone-wolf. Since everybody can 31 I invite the reader to look at al-Tamimi (2015d) to understand the creation of the Islamic State.
  63. 63. April 2016/ 1519066 Anglia Ruskin University63 be a suicide bomber, everywhere at every moment, these lone-wolf operations are extremely complicated, near impossible to control or predict. A strong point for the Islamic State which maybe explains to some degree their unprecedented success Considering these two main points and the findings, if it exists a tangible idea that one day the Islamic State organization will be eliminated, nevertheless, the ideology will not be eradicated. This empowers the statement of Mouline (2016), claiming that only an intellectual fight could destroy the jihadist ideology. It would take long to delve into the origin and the reasons endorsing this ideology, and furthermore, this is not the point of this research. Nevertheless, given the political and ideological conflicts between Sunni and Shiite, and between the Middle East and the West will endure, the jihadist ideology will survive whatever shape it takes. However, this study shows us that a terrorist organization, like the Islamic State, knows how to organize the design of its groups, in order to implement an effective world strategy. This is a trend which will probably continue in the future, and even may even improve, if we take note of the statement of Bakr: “the lesson to be learned from the prior leaders of the state is the way to benefit from prior mistakes” Haji Bakr (Chapter one: announcement of the Islamic State, The Guardian, 2015).
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