ISIL & Critical Infrastructure: Targeting Dams

ISIL & Critical Infrastructure: Targeting Dams

A Counterterrorism Discussion

Since 9/11 ISIL has been growing in power and when the US lost interest in Iraq, the group gained considerable following (USA Today, 2014). In the past ten years, water became one of the primary objectives of ISIL as they have vied for control over several dams. ISIL was able to capture the Mosul Dam which is considered dangerously unstable (Pearce, 2014). This dam was built by Iraq in the 1980s and has needed consistent upkeep due to its unstable nature (Pearce, 2014). Dams are now targets for extremists due to the valuable water resources they maintain.

In 2013, ISIL captured the Tabqa Dam which has allowed the fundamentalist group to gain tremendous support from those dependent on the dam (Pearce, 2014). The Tabqa Dam supplies agricultural and municipal water and electricity for five million people which includes Syria’s largest city, Aleppo (Pearce, 2014). The strategy of ISIL is sound because they know that the scarcity of water in the regions of Syria and Iraq assure compliance to whoever controls the resources. This strategy is applied to other critical resources in the Middle East and allows ISIL to control large areas with less human resources. The major problem with combatting this group is that they have large followings and funding from supporters and political arms of governments that may oppose US interests in the region. The most effective means of combating this group has been to utilize intelligence to find leadership of the group and apprehend or kill them. If enough leadership is apprehended groups such as ISIL have a much more difficult time operating.


Pearce, F. (2014, August 25). Mideast Water Wars: In Iraq, A Battle for Control of Water. Retrieved from Yale: http://e360.yale.edu/feature/mideast_water_wars_in_iraq_a_battle_for_control_of_water/2796/

USA Today. (2014). ISIL’s declaration of Islamic state condemned. Retrieved from USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/06/30/iraq-isis-islamic-state/11776021/

By Yo — Own work, Public Domain


Triola Vincent. Mon, Feb 15, 2021. ISIL & Critical Infrastructure: Targeting Dams Retrieved from https://vincenttriola.com/blogs/ten-years-of-academic-writing/isil-critical-infrastructure-targeting-dams

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