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«2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 199 ARTICLE Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield Gil Avriel* * Legal ...»

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See Carl Schrek, The Meaning of Mosul, THE ATLANTIC (June 11, 2014), http://www.


Alice Fordham, Iraq’s Fight Against ISIS Stalls, NPR NEWS (Oct. 6, 2015), http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/10/06/445257571/iraqs-fight-against-isis-stalls.

Kathy Gilsinan, The Many Ways to Map the Islamic ‘State, THE ATLANTIC (Aug. 27, 2014), http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2014/08/the-many-ways-to-map-the-islamicstate/379196/. See also Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, The Dawn of the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, MIDDLE EAST FORUM (Jan. 27, 2014), http://www.meforum.org/3732/islamic-stateiraq-ash-sham.

See generally Jennifer Giroux and Raymond Gilpin, #NigeriaOnTheEdge, 2.2 CSS POLICY PERSPECTIVES (May 2014), http://www.css.ethz.ch/publications/pdfs/PP_05_05_2014.pdf.

Drew Hinshaw and Gbenga Akingbule, Boko Haram Extends Its Grip in Nigeria, THE WALL ST.

J. (Jan. 5, 2015), http://www.wsj.com/articles/boko-haram-overruns-villages-and-army-base-innortheast-nigeria-1420467667.

David Blair, Boko Haram Is Now a Mini-Islamic State, With Its Own Territory, THE TELEGRAPH (Jan. 10, 2015), http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/nigeria/ 11337722/Boko-Haram-is-now-a-mini-Islamic-State-with-its-own-territory.html.

See Benedetta Berti, Non-State Actors as Providers of Governance: The Hamas Government in Gaza between Effective Sovereignty, Centralized Authority, and Resistance, 69.1 THE MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL 9 (2015) (tracking Hamas’s political evolution by analyzing its governance record, as well as its political, economic, and social policies in the Gaza Strip between 2007 and 2013).

See generally Anat Kurz, Benedetta Berti, and Marcel Konrad, The Institutional Transformations 214 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 facto, the Bekaa Valley and many parts of southern Lebanon.65 In Egypt, the terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis maintains de facto control over the northern Sinai Peninsula.66 In Yemen, the Houthis took over the capital, Sanaa, and wish to expand their territory to other areas in the country. Yemen is one of the fifty largest countries in the world.67 Its total area is larger than Spain or California (the third largest US state). Its population of 26 million is slightly larger than Australia’s. Altogether, these numbers generate a geographic area equivalent in size to France.

Second, territorial terrorist groups do not “utilize the fragile situation to operate in relative security.”68 Territorial terrorist groups work in lieu of governments and, in practice, replace the government by governing and providing the daily services for the population.69 The more traditional version of a terrorist group, which operates in so-called “safe havens,” has no desire to rule. Territorial terrorist groups, on the other hand, wish to rule and want a state of their own.70 Therefore, the language of the aforementioned UN Security Council Resolution 2249 which called upon member states "to eradicate the safe haven they [ISIL] have established over significant parts of Iraq and Syria" is stale. The Syrian regime does not provide a shelter or a "safe haven" for ISIL. To the contrary, ISIL and the Syrian army continue to clash over Syrian territory. ISIL seeks to of Hamas and Hizbollah, 15.3 STRATEGIC ASSESSMENT 87 (2012); ‫ ‏‬JOSHUA L. GLEIS AND BENEDETTA BERTI, HEZBOLLAH AND HAMAS: A COMPARATIVE STUDY (2012).‫‏‬ See Augustus Richard. Norton, Hezbollah: A Short History (2014); Eitan Azani, Hezbollah: The Story of the Party of God: From Revolution to Institutionalization (2008‫‏. ‏‬) See Ammar Karim and Samer al-Atrush, Egypt jihadists vow loyalty to IS as Iraq Probes Leader's Fate, AFP (Nov. 10, 2014), http://news.yahoo.com/egypts-main-jihadist-group-pledgesallegiance-islamic-state-060836737.html; see also Lisa Watanabe, Sinai Peninsula: From Buffer Zone to Battlefield, CSS (2015), http://www.css.ethz.ch/publications/pdfs/CSSAnalyse168EN.pdf.

See List of Countries by Area, http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/countries_by_area.htm.

U.S. DEP’T OF STATE, State Dep’t Country Rpt. on Terrorism, ` See Atika Shubert, How ISIS Controls Life, From Birth to Foosball, CNN (April 21, 2015), http://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/21/middleeast/isis-documents/index.html; Islamic State: The Pushback, THE ECONOMIST (Mar. 21, 2015), http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21646752sustaining-caliphate-turns-out-be-much-harder-declaring-one-islamic-state-not. See also Tim Lister, Why ISIS Is Winning, and How Its Foes Can Reverse That Success, CNN (June 9, 2015), http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/28/middleeast/isis-how-to-stop-it (noting that despite hundreds of airstrikes on its military infrastructure, ISIS continues to function as a rudimentary government in places such as Mosul and Tal Afar in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria); Jamie Ingram, Islamic State's Inadequate Service Provision Undermines Its Authority Over Strategically Important Energy Assets in Syria and Iraq, IHS JANE'S INTELLIGENCE REVIEW (Aug. 11, 2015), http://www.janes.com/article/53599/islamic-state-s-inadequate-service-provision-undermines-itsauthority-over-strategically-important-energy-assets-in-syria-and-iraq; Berti Benedetta, Non-State Actors as Providers of Governance: The Hamas Government in Gaza Between Effective Sovereignty, Centralized Authority, and Resistance, 69.1 THE MIDDLE EAST JOURNAL 9 (2015).‫‏‬

See Annette Idler & James J.F. Forest, Behavioral Patterns Among (Violent) Non-State Actors:

A Study of Complementary Governance, 4 STABILITY: INTL J. OF SEC. AND DEV. 1 (2014); see also Jan Daniel, The Governance of Non-State Armed Actors in Failing States: The Case of Hezbollah, 49.2 MEZINÁRODNÍ VZTAHY 32, 32 (2014).‫‏‬ 2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 215 establish its own state and to rule in place of the Syrian regime. ISIL and other territorial terrorist groups also maintain cruel internal security mechanisms to encourage compliance and enforce their religious convictions on the local population.71 These groups collect taxes to strengthen their authority and serve their economic interests.

These patterns, which are typically the activities carried out by states, have nothing in common with the traditional term “safe haven.” The use of this term with respect to ISIL or other territorial terrorist groups may unfortunately lead to misinterpretation of the phenomenon and the challenge it poses to the international community.

It may not always be clear whether these self-governing entities meet the formal requirements for statehood set in the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States—a permanent population, a defined territory, government, and capacity to enter into relations with other states.72 Yet taking into account the unfolding developments in the Middle East and Africa and the changes in the patterns of terrorism, it might be more relevant to rephrase the question: Is the applicability of the Montevideo Convention even relevant? Do we need this convention in order to understand ISIL?

Civilitary Theory argues that any attempt to define a new and somewhat unclear phenomenon based on a treaty drafted in 1933 does not promote fresh analysis. It is no wonder why we do not understand ISIL.

Similarly interesting are the attempts to minimize or downgrade the phenomenon by stating that ISIL is only an “apocalyptic cult,”73 that it is a terrorist organization with no vision other than to slaughter those who stand in its way,74 or try to name it as the “Un-Islamic Non-State.”75 Taking into account the See Andrew F. March and Mara Revkin, Caliphate of Law, FOREIGN AFFAIRS (April 15, 2015), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/syria/2015-04-15/caliphate-law.

Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, art. 1, 49 Stat. 3097, Treaty Series 881.

See Remarks by President Obama on the United Nations General Assembly, THE WHITE HOUSE (Sept. 28, 2015), https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/28/remarks-presidentobama-united-nations-general-assembly (stating “[t]here is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL, and the United States makes no apologies for using our military, as part of a broad coalition, to go after them. We do so with a determination to ensure that there will never be a safe haven for terrorists who carry out these crimes.”).

See Statement by President Obama on ISIL, THE WHITE HOUSE (Sept. 10, 2014), http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/10/statement-president-isil-1 (“ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents. And the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state.... It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.”). See also Obama Warns Against Exaggerating the Islamic State Threat, FOREIGN POLICY (Feb. 1, 2015), http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/02/01/obama-warns-against-exaggerating-the-islamic-state-threat/.

216 Harvard National Security Journal / Vol. 7 developments in the Middle East and Africa, it may be time to realize that something new has emerged.

Perhaps a phenomenon like ISIL could not be considered a regular state according to the formalistic requirements of the Montevideo Convention.76 Yet at the same time this new phenomenon could not be viewed simply as a terrorist group.77 Leading international relations scholars like Joseph Nye and Stephen Walt consider ISIL to be a proto-state78 or an entity that has sought to build the rudiments of a genuine state in the territory it controls.79 What name should we give to the phenomenon by which territorial terrorist groups are gaining, in practice, a state of their own?80 For the sake of this Article, we term this phenomenon a terroristate.

The term terroristate refers to a geographic area governed by territorial terrorist groups. The most prominent terroristate is the Islamic State that stretches between Syria and Iraq. In Nigeria, Boko Haram is waging a campaign of terror while dreaming of a caliphate similar to ISIL.81 Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, and Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis are also operating from terroristates.

Secretary-General’s Remarks to Security Council High-Level Summit on Foreign Terrorist Fighters, UNITED NATIONS (Sept. 24, 2014), http://www.un.org/sg/STATEMENTS/index.asp ?nid=8040 (“Muslim leaders around the world have said groups like ISIL—or Da’ish—have nothing to do with Islam, and they certainly do not represent a state. They should more fittingly be called the ‘Un-Islamic Non-State.’”).

See Yuval Shany, Amichai Cohen, Tal Mimran, ISIS: Is the Islamic State Really a State? IDI ANALYSIS (Sept. 14, 2014), http://en.idi.org.il/analysis/articles/isis-is-the-islamic-state-really-astate/ (concluding that is too early to determine whether the Islamic State meets the conditions for a State under international law).

See ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group, FOREIGN AFFAIRS (March/April 2015), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/2015-02-16/Isis-Not-Terrorist-Group; Ken Menkhaus, Quasi-States, Nation-Building, and Terrorist Safe Havens, JOURNAL OF Conflict STUDIES 23.2 (2006).

Joseph S. Nye, How to Fight the Islamic State, PROJECT SYNDICATE (Sept. 8, 2015), http://belfercenter.hks.harvard.edu/publication/25725/how_to_fight_the_islamic_state.html (“The Islamic State is three things: a transnational terrorist group, a proto-state, and a political ideology with religious roots.”).

Stephen M. Walt, ISIS as Revolutionary State, FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Nov./Dec. 2015), https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/middle-east/isis-revolutionary-state; see also Lina Khatib, The Islamic State’s Strategy: Lasting and Expanding, THE CARNEGIE MIDDLE EAST CENTER (June 29, 2015), http://carnegie-mec.org/2015/06/29/islamic-state-s-strategy-lasting-and-expanding/ ib5x.

See Will Mccants, How the Islamic State Declared War on the World, FOREIGN POLICY (Nov.

16, 2015), http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/11/16/how-the-islamic-state-declared-war-on-the-worldactual-state (“For most its history, the Islamic State was a terrorist group or an insurgency. But as it grew in strength, it looked more like a government. It has been called a ‘proto-state’ and a ‘quasi-state.’ Whatever the terminology, it’s much more than an insurgent group now—and it has millions of dollars at its disposal to fund its military adventures at home and abroad.”).

Jeremy Ashkenas et al., Boko Haram: The Other Islamic State, THE NEW YORK TIMES (Jan. 15, 2015), http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/11/world/africa/boko-haram-nigeria-maps.


2016 / Terrorism 2.0: The Rise of the Civilitary Battlefield 217 By not recognizing territorial terrorist groups and terroristates as new phenomena that need to be addressed differently, the international community falls behind in dealing with them. As a result, at Model I of Civilitary Theory, territorial terrorist groups have been able to usually expand without significant interference.82 It is usually only in Model II that the international community modifies its national security strategy.

B. Civilitary Model II: Triple Terrorism Strategy

Terroristates have been born. Their status enables them to simultaneously pursue a three-pronged strategy of terrorism: first, against civilians under their control; second, against civilians living in nearby states; and third, against civilians around the world. Some territorial terrorist groups excel in all three elements of such terrorism, while others concentrate geographically on the local and regional levels, refraining from terrorist activities around the world.

The first element of the triple strategy pursued by territorial terrorist groups is to rule with an iron fist and commit acts of despicable violence and mass execution. Besides hostage taking (either for ransom or public execution), territorial terrorist groups may initiate campaigns of mass murder which are often followed by wide-scale atrocities: massacres, enslavement, torture, rape, forced marriage, burning of villages, acts of violence against religious and ethnic minority groups, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity. Once territorial expansion succeeds, any newly acquired territory—along with its beleaguered civilians—becomes part of the terroristate.

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