Combating Militant Islamism with Psychological Operations: Influencing Adversary Behavior
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This research serves as an evaluation of the United States’ Psychological Operations (PSYOP) strategy in combating militant Islamist groups. Department of Defense doctrinal publications are the authority in this thesis for defining PSYOP. The research considers past U.S. employment of PSYOP to demonstrate its plausible effectiveness in achieving national security objectives. Analysis supports the idea of PSYOP being an appropriate means to combat militant Islamism. A thorough look into the authoritative texts that militant Islamist groups use to support their ideology leads to the conclusion that the U.S.’s current employment of PSYOP is misdirected and subsequently ineffective. The researcher concludes that an alternative approach involving the use of PSYOP to discredit the militants’ stated ideological source, namely the Quran and Hadith, rather than attempting to simply discredit their interpretation of the texts, would be more effective in influencing adversarial thoughts and behavior to support U.S. national security objectives.