This commentary evaluates the use of beheadings by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. We place beheadings in a broader historical context and draw from academic research in terrorism studies and the social sciences to explain why the Islamic State has adopted such brutal tactics. We outline the strategic logic of beheading and evaluate explanations related to symbolic politics, culture, and organizational dynamics. We conclude with a discussion about the future of Islamic State violence.
Zech, S., & Kelly, Z. (2015). Off with their heads: the Islamic State and civilian beheadings. Journal of Terrorism Research, 6(2), pp. 83-93.
Journal of Terrorism Research
This is an open access article published in Journal of Terrorism Research. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)