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College Terrorism Expert Discusses the Islamic State

November 17, 2015

November 16, 2015
By Katherine Underwood

Chip Underhill
Communications and Marketing
(603) 641-7326 (Desk)

A Closer Look: What is ISIS?

In trying to make sense of what seems to many is just a senseless act of extreme violence, we have to look deeper at the Islamic State. What is this group and what do they want?

Politics professor Erik Cleven has been studying political violence around the world for five years. He's been teaching international relations at St. Anselm's College for three years.

He says while terror attacks like the one in Paris seem random, irrational, and chaotic, there is a very clear strategy behind it.

"Terrorists, Islamic State particularly, are brutal in competition for supporters, so they are getting media attention and showing themsleves to be most capable group in the region as far as controlling what's going on," Cleven said.

He says ISIS, also referred to as ISIL, or the Islamic State, started about ten years ago as an offshoot of Al Qaida in Iraq and has now far surpassed Al Qaida's level of brutality and sophistication.

"Genocidal attacks on certain groups is something Al Qaida is not doing," Cleven said. "ISIS is attacking Muslims and non Muslims and those are some key differences."

Cleven says ISIS interprets the Koran literally and is trying to create an Islamist state in the Middle East. So why the attacks overseas? And why this time in Paris?

Cleven says this is a strategy for recruitment and ISIS leaders knew Paris would capture the headlines.

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