The ‘Islamic state’s’ stated objectives and its actions have rightly alarmed many in the international community; indeed the volume of violence the group has generated and its capacity to do more should not be underestimated. Nevertheless, it is critical that the assessment of IS’s standing in the world not be skewed solely by its ability to produce violence. This presentation assesses the Islamic State’s success as a state-building entity to draw a distinction between its effectiveness as a terrorist group and its success as a state.
About the Speaker:
Nelly Lahoud is Senior Fellow for Political Islamism at the International Institute for Strategic Studies – Middle East.
Lahoud’s recent research has focused on the ideology and evolution of al-Qa‘ida and the group that calls itself the ‘Islamic State.’ She was the lead author of Letters from Abbottabad (CTC: May 2012), the report that analysed de-classified documents captured in Usama bin Ladin’s compound. Other recent publications include co-authoring the study The Group That Calls Itself a State: Understanding the Evolution and Challenges of the Islamic State (CTC: December 2014); ‘The Neglected Sex: The Jihadis’ Exclusion of Women From Jihad,’ Terrorism and Political Violence, Feb. 2014; Jihadi Discourse in the Wake of the Arab Spring (CTC: December 2013); Beware of Imitators: Al-Qa`ida through the Lens of its Confidential Secretary (CTC: June 2012); The Jihadis’ Path to Self-Destruction, Columbia University Press/Hurst (2010).
She completed her Ph.D. in 2002 at the Research School of Social Sciences — Australian National University. In 2003, she was a postdoctoral scholar at St John’s College, University of Cambridge — UK. In 2005, she was a Rockefeller Fellow in Islamic studies at the Library of Congress and in 2008-09 she was a Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University. Prior to her current position, Lahoud was Associate Professor at the Department of Social Sciences at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Senior Associate at the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point (2010-2015); and an Assistant Professor of political theory, including Islamic political thought, at Goucher College (2004-2010).