Why ISIS’s message resonates: Leveraging Islam, sociopolitical catalysts, and adaptive messaging

Ian R. Pelletier, Leif Lundmark, Rachel Gardner, Gina Scott Ligon, Ramazan Kilinc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Scopus citations


How does the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leverage Islamic Law to support their strategic objectives? Islam, as most religions, is a defining catalyst of group identity. ISIS has capitalized on this, using it as a vehicle to legitimize its interpretation of Islamic Law. This study builds on Social Movement Theory to develop and test a conceptual framework of ISIS messaging strategies. This framework highlights the progression of the organization’s message from mainstream Islamic Law to radical unified reinterpretation. ISIS leaders’ speeches are used to test the model. Ultimately, study findings inform countermessaging strategies and identify mobilization mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)871-899
Number of pages29
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations

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