Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Public Policy Leadership

First Advisor

Weixing Chen

Relational Format



This study is comprised of two parts. Part 1 focuses on ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab, examining the structures, tactics, and motivations of the groups. Each group seeks territory in its respective region. After losing territories, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab both turned to guerilla attacks and suicide bombing, destabilizing the areas formerly under their control. Having lost much territory, ISIS is already showing signs of behaving more like an insurgency and employing tactics similar to Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab by resorting to attacks on soft targets as it continues to be deprived of territory. Part 2 focuses on the US policy response to ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab. After describing the Obama Administration's objectives, polices, and results against these groups, this study concludes that while President Obama's objectives were met fairly well and the groups were weakened in territorial capacity, the groups continue to thrive in certain capacities and the administration failed to deter the groups' escalating soft target attacks. In detailing and speculating upon the Trump Administration's policies towards ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab, this study predicts the Trump Administration's potential departures from the previous administration and highlights the opportunities and challenges confronting President Trump in countering the groups. This study finds that the Trump Administration will likely increase US troop levels in the fights against ISIS, Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab, and that sustaining gains against the groups will necessitate a long-term US role of security and surveillance in areas vulnerable to the groups' attacks.



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