Why ISIS is So Successful

By Harleen Gambhir

Harleen Gambhir is a Counterterrorism Analyst at the Institute for the Study of War. She focuses on the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham's global strategy and operations, as well as on the organization's propaganda and digital presence. Gambhir also manages several of ISW's technology partnerships.

The rise of the Islamic State has been accompanied by the increasing presence of the terror group on social media. ISIS’s message of a Muslim utopia is disseminated through various organizations and outlets, all coordinated through complex bureaucratic measures. Counterterrorism analyst for the Institute for the Study of War, Harleen Gambhir, discussed with The Cipher Brief why ISIS’s message is so successful, what advantages they have in getting their message out, and how the U.S. can better compete in this war of narratives. 

The Cipher Brief: In what ways has ISIS’ messaging been successful? How would you assess the effectiveness of ISIS’ messaging in relation to other terrorist organizations?

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