Richard Davis is a co-founder of Artis International and a founding fellow of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflicts at the University of Oxford. A former director of Prevention (Terrorism) Policy for the Homeland Security Council in the White House, he is the author of Hamas, Popular Support and War in the Middle East (2016). (October 2017)
Our research team has been working on the front lines of the fight with ISIS since the beginning of 2015 to enhance policymakers’ access to field-based social science. We found that although ISIS has lost control of almost all majority-Sunni territory in Iraq, the group has imbued a generation of young Sunni Arabs with a strict belief in Sharia law as the only way to govern society; and this is a value they are willing to fight and die for. The people we interviewed and tested almost invariably associated democracy with human weakness and perfidy.