Thick Recognition Failure and Terrorism Emergence in the Middle East (ISIS in Iraq as case study)

Document Type : Original Article


1 Associate Professor at Department of Economics and Political Science University of Shahid Beheshti, Tehran, Iran

2 Senior Researcher, Center for the Middle East Strategic Studies




The Middle East has witnessed many identity conflicts and rising violent extremist groups after 2003. The most prominent one has been the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which has come to the sphere of politics, in the post Arab Spring era. The goal of this paper is to examine the roots of the emergence of violent extremist groups, principally with reference to ISIS rising in Iraq. To do this authors propose “the four-dimensional thick recognition” model that consists of four concepts i.e., 1) historical narratives, 2) self-esteem 3) ontological security, and 4) hubristic identity. This model highlights that historical narratives of conflict, along with lack of self-esteem leads to feeling of ontological insecurity. This, in turn, leads to a kind of hubristic identity crisis, which often paves the way through struggle for regaining it. By content analysis of major texts published by the ISIS through two major magazines, namely Dabiq and Rumiyah, we try to demonstrate how the rise of ISIS was rooted in the issue of thick recognition failure. The paper concludes that thick recognition failure in these four phases, led to the establishment of violent extremist groups particularly in regions with memories of conflict.


Main Subjects

Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 26 January 2024
  • Receive Date: 25 August 2023
  • Revise Date: 06 January 2024
  • Accept Date: 26 January 2024