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Psychoanalytical Evaluation of Syria's Former Islamic State Families & Fighters

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TECHNICAL RESEARCH REPORT. The underlying basis of this research report are 510 pages of interview responses from 24 separate individual interviews with 24 Syrian Sunni Arab men and women who were part of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (aka ISIS
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  Psychoanalytical Research into Former ISIS Families & Fighters in Eastern Syria’s Euphrates River Valley UNCLASSIFIED Open Source Research DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.10154.57283 Spring-Summer 2019: Middle East & Levant   Válka ír   H UMAN S ECURITY R&D  Dr. Patrick James Christian, PhD   Page 1  of 96   “I hate Iran and the Shiite militias. I hate the word Iran. I hate Persia and the Shiites. They are people who hate Muslims. They believe that the one who kills ten Sunnis will go to heaven. This is their law and I hate them”   –   Arab Sunni Female, 33, Married, 7 Children, Housewife, from Mayadin, resettled in Raqqa   “If Assad regime is back… I don't expect there is anything in the world that is worse… It is the head of the snake…mother of all evil…the most destructive, most murderous thing; The regime has done all evil imaginable and the word "criminal" is not enough to describe it.”    – Arab Sunni Male, 31, Married, 2 Children, Engine Mechanic, from Deir Ezzor, resettled in Raqqa “There are [foreign] people [in ISIS] who came from Afghanistan or Pakistan who haven’t seen anything in their life ... as if they were men of the cave. … from the wild. They were living among the rocks .” Arab Sunni Female, 30s, Widow of ISIS fighter, 5 Children, from Deir ez Zur, resettled in family’s village in Deir ez Zur. “You cannot mix with them  [ISIS] because you cannot understand their languages when they talk to each other. You cannot feel secure because you don’t know what will happen to you if you say anything in front of them. They want to find any fault with you and you lose your life. One wrong word and you are killed. You don’t feel safe among them”    Arab Sunni Male, 32, Married, no children, Mechanic from Deir ez Zur, ISIS member. “The Alawite Tyrant Opens the Door to the Persian Invader”   Edited as of:   05 August 2019 Phenomenological Qualitative Technical Research Report  Psychoanalytical Research into Former ISIS Families & Fighters in Eastern Syria’s Euphrates River Valley UNCLASSIFIED Open Source Research DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.10154.57283 Spring-Summer 2019: Middle East & Levant   Válka ír   H UMAN S ECURITY R&D  Dr. Patrick James Christian, PhD   Page 2  of 96   Publication & Copyright Development This technical research report was developed by Valka-Mir Human Security LLC to support advances in non-lethal targeting & engagement field applications for U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The material depicted in this research report is intended primarily for United States Government employees and contractors involved in supporting national defense strategy and execution. All material created in support of this research report is copyrighted to Valka-Mir Human Security PLLC and no part of this report may be reproduced without the express written consent of the author. The Valka-Mir Human Security partners are solely responsible for the science embedded within this text. Dr. Patrick James Christian, PhD Psychoanalytical Cultural Anthropologist (Ethnic & Cultural Conflict) Principal Investigator   Graphic Illustrations used with permission of Courseware from “Psychosocial-Emotional Variables of Target Audience Analysis.”   DELAWARE EIN: 82-1182035 DUNS: 080645162 CAGE Code: #: 7VG69 MPIN #: CONFLIC98  Research Offices 3100 SW Fairmount Boulevard, Portland Oregon 97239 * 1(503) 989-8402 2637 16 th  Street NW, Suite #803, Washington DC 20009 * 1(352) 328-1782  Psychoanalytical Research into Former ISIS Families & Fighters in Eastern Syria’s Euphrates River Valley UNCLASSIFIED Open Source Research DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.10154.57283 Spring-Summer 2019: Middle East & Levant   Válka ír   H UMAN S ECURITY R&D  Dr. Patrick James Christian, PhD   Page 3  of 96   Table of Contents Executive Summary ....................................................................................................................................... 4 Section 1. Research Background, Data Sources & Analytical Methodology ................................................. 5 Respondents Descriptions & Backgrounds FEMALE RESPONDENTS ........................................................ 9 Respondents Descriptions & Backgrounds MALE RESPONDENTS .......................................................... 12 Conflict Participants of Civil War in Syria ................................................................................................ 15 Section 2: Respondent Themes of Conspiracy and Betrayal in Syria’s Civil War ........................................ 18 Section 3: Respondent Themes of Foreign Infiltrators of the Islamic State. .............................................. 23 “ We were deceived  ”: foreign infiltrators’ reenactment of violent childhood rage. ............................... 26 Foreign gangs and wild men disguised as ISIS mujahideen. ................................................................... 28 Section 4. The Psychopathology of Islamic State Ideology ......................................................................... 37 Respondent Sub-Theme of foreign ISIS Cadre Ideology: Psycho-Emotional Mechanisms of infuriated-rage-as-ideology ...................................................................................................................................... 38 Respondent Sub-Themes of Generational Transmission of Malformed and Deformed Personalities from Trauma and ISIS Indoctrination ...................................................................................................... 49 Respondent Sub-Theme of Cultural and Religious Appropriation by ISIS .............................................. 52 Respondent Sub-Theme of ISIS brand of Orthodox Islam as a Power-Fantasy Defense against Alienation, Shame and a Terrifying Future ............................................................................................. 53 Orthodox belief as a mask for the psychological projection of power and persecution. ................... 54 A Psychologically Progressive Reaction to post-ISIS Syria. ................................................................. 55 A Psychologically Regressive Reaction to post-ISIS Syria. ................................................................... 56 Regression into Ideological Power-Fantasy Protection. ..................................................................... 58 Respondent Sub-Theme of Psychological Regression: Fight the Future and Deny Change ................... 65 Behavioral and Trait Projection. ......................................................................................................... 68 Behavioral and Trait Dissociation. ...................................................................................................... 70 A Typical Healthy Response to Tragedy and Trauma. ......................................................................... 71 Section 5: Respondent Themes of Humiliation & Deprivation: Mental Objects of Suffering as Refugees 74 Section 6: “The Horror”: Mental Objects of Iranian Apostasy and Persian Ethnic Defection .................... 80 Iran, the Shiite Militia Groups, & Assad’s Alawite Regime ..................................................................... 80 Perceptions and Feelings towards Iran and the SMGs ........................................................................... 82 General Feelings towards the Syrian Alawite Shia Regime..................................................................... 87 Section 7: Conclusions and Messaging Recommendations ........................................................................ 92 Section 8: Follow-On Research & Analytical Study ..................................................................................... 94 Bibliography ................................................................................................................................................ 94    Psychoanalytical Research into Former ISIS Families & Fighters in Eastern Syria’s Euphrates River Valley UNCLASSIFIED Open Source Research DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.10154.57283 Spring-Summer 2019: Middle East & Levant   Válka ír   H UMAN S ECURITY R&D  Dr. Patrick James Christian, PhD   Page 4  of 96   Executive Summary   The underlying basis of this research report are 510 pages of interview responses from 24 separate individual interviews with 24 Syrian Sunni Arab men and women who were part of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (aka ISIS or Daesh) as fighters, supporters, and families until its fall to coalition forces. These survey interviews were augmented by a body of published print and online sources of interviews and firsthand accounts of the events that the survey respondents described. Although the interviewees were asked about all the parties involved in the conflict, most responses dwelled at length on their experiences and interaction with the Islamic State. Our analysis discovered that the respondents’ conscious and subconscious thoughts are heavily preoccupied with the Islamic State in a manner indicative of widespread psychological trauma. We found respondents whose interviews suggested a higher degree of mental stability and lower levels of trauma that we could use as comparison/contrasts within the target audience. We found that most respondents are ‘at-risk’ in various degrees of rejoining or re-supporting a reemergence of ISIS or some other violent surrogate. We found that respondents who presented higher levels of psychological trauma correlated with higher levels of outward manifestations of support for the Islamic State, often through a confused interaction of fantasy and reality. We then found that those higher trauma / higher IS support were also least likely to rationally describe how they would resist the influx of Iranian proxies in the form of Shi’a Militia Groups. To be clear, all respondents reported deeply seated fear (horror) and visceral revulsion of all things Iran, Shi’a, and Bashar Assad. They did so using word associations that made clear their conscious and subconscious thoughts on these mental objects and associated them as a collective with apostasy and the disintegration of what it means to be Syrian, Sunni, and Arab.  Psychoanalytical Research into Former ISIS Families & Fighters in Eastern Syria’s Euphrates River Valley UNCLASSIFIED Open Source Research DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.10154.57283 Spring-Summer 2019: Middle East & Levant   Válka ír   H UMAN S ECURITY R&D  Dr. Patrick James Christian, PhD   Page 5  of 96   Section 1. Research Background, Data Sources & Analytical Methodology Syrian Sunni Arab Target Audience formerly under control of the Islamic State This qualitative research report seeks to provide insight into the psychological and emotional attitudes of target audiences formerly under the control and membership exploitation of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), in the Ar Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor, and Al Hasakah Governorates generally, and within the cities and towns along the Euphrates River in the eastern portion of Syria specifically. The purpose of the research report is to inform the American political, military, and humanitarian response teams that are attempting to therapeutically engage and message the Syrian refugees, internally displaced persons, and war returnees in eastern Syria. I have added graphics and explanatory context insets to help these engagement teams better understand the psychosocial-emotional dynamics displayed by the interviewees. The research data centers on a set of 24 qualitative individual interviews that total 510 pages of interview questions and responses. There are 12 male respondents who self-admit to membership in the Islamic State as fighters, supporters, and or employees; and who managed to avoid incarceration after Syrian Defense Forces took control of these provinces. The 12 female respondents were linked to the Islamic State by virtue of husbands, fathers, or brothers who were serving as front-line fighters. All the 24 respondents identified themselves as residents of the Ar Raqqa and Deir ez Zur Governorates prior to the emergence of the Islamic State that followed the collapse of Assad regime control. The respondents were interviewed in al Raqqa and Deir ez Zur cities and their rural surroundings in the spring of 2019, generally 2-4 months after they had left the IDP camps. 20 of 24 refugees had spent time in either the Ein Issa, Al Mabrouk, Al Hawl, or Al Sad Refugee Camps. These camps were administered by humanitarian and refugee organizations to include the UNHCR and the Kurdish Red Crescent. Known, suspected, or reported ISIS fighters were
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