A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

Core Capabilities and Potential Durability of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)

Core Capabilities and Potential Durability of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)


  • Training format: Series of online video lectures (Online Short Series)
  • Number of lessons: 3 (Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
  • Duration of each lesson: Introduction (4 min), Part 1 (12 min), Part 2 (9 min), Part 3 (10 min)
  • Total duration of training: 35 minutes of video; additional time needed to complete readings
  • Intended audience: Decision-makers, analysts and operators seeking to understand, anticipate, and respond to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant


This series of brief online training lectures explores research-based findings on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (referred to as ISIL in this training).  These findings are the result of a research network facilitated by the Strategic Multilayer Assessment office within the Department of Defense and this training has been produced with funding from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate's Office of University Programs.

The lessons explore two key questions:

  1. What makes ISIL so magnetic, inspirational, and deeply resonant with a small, but significant, portion of the Muslim population?
  2. Is ISIL a durable organization, and what are the characteristics of ISIL that can help us anticipate its durability?

At the end of each lesson, a list of suggested readings is presented. These readings, as well as full text scripts, are available for download as PDF files by clicking on the links below each video.





Introduction Script


Suggested readings:

Part 1: Geopolitical Context and Genesis of ISIL



Part 1 Script

Suggested readings:

Part 2: ISIL’s Core Capabilities



Part 2 Script

Suggested readings:

Part 3: ISIL’s Durability and Resilience



Part 3 Script

Suggested readings:

The views and conclusions expressed in this training should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the U.S. government, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security or START.

For more information about any of START's trainings, contact Liberty Day, START Training Manager, at 301-405-6600 or training@start.umd.edu or make an online request for more information.

You can also sign up to receive notifications about START Training Opportunities here.