Subject Area Keywords

Al-Qaida, Intelligence analysis, Intelligence studies/education, Islamic culture and politics, Religious violence, Terrorism / counterterrorism


The German war theorist Carl von Clausewitz pointed out that in order to defeat an opponent one had to crush his point of gravitation (Schwerpunkt).[1] In the case of non-state opponents, like the Islamic State, which do occupy territory, but more or less in a nomadic way, moving like a snake among the rocks, it is difficult to target a physical point of gravitation. In fact their Schwerpunkt is their ideological narrative, which functions as a redoubtable pull-factor, responsible for attracting throngs of foreign fighters. So far the West has shown a poor record in targeting this narrative. This paper tries to map some of the elements in IS’s Schwerpunkt that look vulnerable and may be targeted in order to diminish the power of the Islamic State as much as possible without actually fighting the self-proclaimed Caliphate.

[1] http://www.clausewitz.com/readings/VomKriege1832/TOC.htm.