Since 9/11, counterterrorism policies have been one of the crucial policy issues facing the United States. After the attacks on the United States, counterterrorism in this country transformed. Fifteen years later, counterterrorism is typically organized as a one-size fits all approach. This approach generalizes all terrorist threats, trying to target terrorism as a whole. This thesis explains how this is an improper approach to counterterrorism. Instead, policies should be case-specific and created in regards to the specific characteristics embodied by each terrorist organization. These characteristics include history and ideology, organizational and leadership structure, finances, and tactics and targets. These characteristics have been proven to comprise the composition of a one-of-a-kind terrorist organization. Each group expresses these characteristics differently, even if they share the same geographical location or religious background. Through research utilizing academic journal articles, current events, government publications, and published books, it is discovered how the unique characteristics displayed by Islamic Fundamentalist groups have counterterrorism policy implications. In order to portray this, this thesis analyzed characteristics of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the Taliban. Through these case-studies, it was shown how distinct these groups are from one another and how these differences should be accounted for in counterterrorism policies. Once these differences are implemented into individualist counterterrorism policies, the United States can provide effective policies that target specific aspects of each terrorist organization instead of trying to combat terrorism as a whole.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Sadri, Houman A.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

December 2016