Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of the Arts, English and Media


This study examines the information operations strategy of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), focusing on the 2014-2016 period. Using extensive case studies of ISIS-related information warfare operations, the study examines the online manoeuvre tactics deployed by ISIS to survive counter-operations aimed against its propaganda networks. The thesis uses a conceptual framework informed by John Boyd’s OODA loop model, actor network theory, and stigmergic swarm operations in digital media environments. The study argues that anonymous sharing platforms such as and Telegram, and to a lesser extent, Twitter, have been instrumental in allowing individual jihadists to generate content, disseminate propaganda, and communicate freely while routing around filtering practiced by popular social media networks (SMNs). The study suggests that the failure of ISIS’ adversaries in operating inside the OODA loop of ISIS led to the organisation’s survival, the evolution of its network, and the proliferation of its information operations.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.