How surprising was ISIS’ rise to power for the German intelligence community? Reconstructing estimates of likelihood prior to the fall of Mosul

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Abstract

This article provides a first attempt at evaluating the performance of the German intelligence community when anticipating ISIS’ rise to power in Syria and Iraq and its reach into Europe in 2013–2014. It applies a new analytical framework for postmortem exercises after foreign policy crises, which centres on nuanced discussions of surprise and contextualised assessments of performance. This article finds evidence of partial to significant surprise among German intelligence analysts vis-à-vis four key events. Their performance was hindered by diagnostic difficulties and structural constraints, which affected their ability to identify risks related to underlying vulnerabilities in Iraq and Syria.
Original languageEnglish
JournalIntelligence and National Security
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Oct 2021

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