Brandeis University:  December 3 , 2014

The theory takes six groups and classifies their current status according to Model I, II and III of the Civilitary theory. The groups are ISIL., Boko Hararm, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Examples of ​Civilitary Model I 

West Point Military Academy:    October 25, 2016




Harvard TED Talk Center of Public Leadership:April  29, 2015

Association of American Law Schools Conference: January 9, 2016

The Houthis in Yemen

​​ Lawfare:  Peter Margulies - Terrorist Sanctions ( Feb. 17, 2016)

​​​​The Civilitary Theory — The name of the theory. This is  a portmanteau of the words civil and military that reflects the hybrid nature of the modern battlefield. 

Territorial Terrorist Groups -The Theory differentiates between non- territorial and territorial terrorist groups. Territorial terrorist groups are terrorist groups that evolved by gaining territory and governing civilians.   

​Terroristates -  (formally known as "safe haven”) A term relates to the geographic area governed by territorial terrorist groups.  

Terroballistic Capabilities - A term relates to missile arsenals acquired and held  by terrorists for terrorist purposes. 

Terroballistic Attack - A term relates to The act of missile launching by terrorists from within densely populated civilian areas against densely populated civilian areas. This term connects between these forms of attack and terrorism. 

The Strategy of “Ascivilation” and the verb "to ascivilate" (often referred to as "human shields") this coinage is a portmanteau of the words “assimilation” and “civilian”, and refers to the strategic and deliberate assimilation of missiles and launching pads into densely populated civilian areas.

The term “human shield” may not capture the complexity, magnitude and severity of the new phenomenon, while asciviliation entails the systematic transformation of existing civilian neighborhoods into hybrid civilian-miitary installations. 

Its important to close this gap because wrong terms create wrong perceptions, blur reality and lead to misguided decisions and judgments that may hamper the ability to understand ISIL and other radical forces of violence. Closing this gap would help the international community to better address the national security challenges of our time.







Civilitary — a new term coined from the words civil and military —  aims to capture the state of play imposed on the international community by ISIL and other radical forces of violence in the 21st century that has placed civilians at the heart of military conflict.



  from non-territorial to territorial entities

​ Harvard:  Interview About the Civilitary Theory  ( July 19., 2016)

Our thinking about the fight against terrorism is often hampered by the tension between continuity and change.  Yet thinking about the evolution of certain terrorist groups has to be based on more than extrapolating from history and continued use of outdated terminology that no longer captures the changing reality.

In the Middle East and Africa, we see new patterns in which traditional terrorist groups evolve from non-territorial to territorial entities that also govern the lives of civilians. These groups include ISIL, Boko Haram, Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis, Hamas, Hezbollah and  the Huthies in Yemen. 

Exploring these groups  in an organized and structured way, as Civilitary Theory does, reveals similar patterns of behavior. These patterns are identified, explained, labeled, and demonstrated in a way that adequately capture the state of play between the international community and radical forces that are rising in the Middle East, Africa and other places.



​Terrorist groups have changed the modern battlefield. Yet the words used to describe events in the global fight against terrorism have remained mostly unchanged.  As a result political leaders, diplomats, national security scholars and journalists are using outdated words to describe new phenomena.


​Political leaders, policy advisers and national security scholars can explore its impacts on national security strategy and decision-making at the highest level. ​Experts on terrorism can deepen the analysis on the notion of territorial terrorist groups and their classification  as Model I, II, or III. 

Diplomats and speech writers can explore the use of certain terms in common diplomatic and public jargon. ​Foreign policy specialists, legal scholars and military experts may develop scholarly work in the fields of international relations, international law and the law of armed conflict. Journalists can generate inclusive journalism and better analyze the new reality in the global fight against terrorism.

The international community can better predict future trends of violence in the 21st century and build contemporary national security strategies to address the national security challenges of our time.


Examples of ​Civilitary Model II 

​​​​​Civilitary Model II

Territorial terrorist groups terrorize the lives of civilians inside their territory,  in nearby states and around the world. 

conferences & pUBLIC EVENTS 

Harvard Law School:  October  27,  2016

​​Civilitary Model I 

 Terrorist groups transform to new entities by adding a clear territorial dimension and govern the lives of civilians (thereby become territorial terrorist groups.) 

​​​​​​Academic Exchange Delegation:  June 5, 2016

​​​​Lawfare Jack Goldsmith -New Issue of Harvard National Security Journal      (Feb. 2, 2016)

Click on the picture below

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Picture credit  UN, CNN, White House Harvard Crimson, HarvardCPL., Belfer Center,Pixabay, mintpressnews


International Law Weekend Conference 2016:   October 28, 2016


The Civilitary Theory​​

 ​INSS:       Law & National Security : Selected Updates  ( Feb.20, 2016)

video gallegy

Examples of ​Civilitary Model III


the civilitary theory

who can Use the civilitary Theory ?

​​​​Lawfare : John Bellinger - Civilitary Theory: Trrorism Taxonomy  ( Feb. 6, 2016)


​​​​​                                                            Civilitary Model III

 Territorial terrorist groups acquire ballistic capabilities and embed the weapons in densely populated residential areas.

​​​ Wexner :  Leading a Change in the World of National Security   ( July 12, 2016)

THE civilitary THEORY

Yale Law School:  April  8, 2015


Harvard Kennedy School:  November  18,  2014

​​​​​​​International  Law Association British Branch ​​​​​Conference:  April  9, 2016

Classifying terrorist groups 


Boko Haram

Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis


​​​​​​Civilitary Theory explains the evolution of certain terrorist groups in the 21st century.  This evolution can be classified into three models or stages (which are named "Civilitary model I, II and III"). 

Civilitary model I:

The weakening of central governments has created special geographic opportunities for certain terrorist groups. These groups add  a clear territorial dimension. They also govern the lives of the civilians.   This evolutionary process  has resulted in the creation of new entities:

"Territorial Terrorist Groups". ​

The more traditional version of terrorist groups who operate in the so-called safe havens have no desire to rule. Territorial terrorist groups, on the other hand, wish to rule and want a state of their own. They control the lives of civilians and perform activities which are typically carried out by states. The geographic area under the effective control of territorial terrorist group should not be called "safe haven for terrorists" but a "Terroristate".

 ​Civilitary model II:


While establishing their terroristate, territorial terrorist groups conduct a "Triple Terrorist Strategy" against different groups of civilians - they terrorize civilians within their territory, civilians in nearby states, and civilians around the world.  

At this stage, some states or coalitions of forces respond to these threats militarily by using surgical airstrikes, but usually refrain from boots on the ground or enduring offensive ground combat operations.   

Civilitary model III:

Terrorists respond to these surgical airstrikes by developing adaptive strategies to ensure their survival. They acquire rockets and ballistic missiles (which are named "Terroballistic Capabilities"), embed them in densely populated residential areas in order to make themselves indistinguishable from their surroundings (a strategy named "Asciviliation"), and shoot them at civilians (an act  of terrrism named as "Terroballistic attacks"). ​​

The X - axis represents the stages (Model I, II, or III) and the Y-axis represents the progress of the territorial terrorist group in each model. For example, a group could be classified under “Model II” and also get a mark of “Advance" in its progression. This means that the group has demonstrated all the patterns of Model I and Model II, but has not yet moved into Model III.

As noted in the chart, Hezbollah and Hamas are both classified under Model III, yet Hezbollah has gained high progress in Model III while Hamas only achieved medium progress.  The next three territorial terrorist groups—ISIL, Boko Haram and Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis are classified under Model II. Of these three, ISIL maintains high progress within the model, Boko Harm only medium progress and Ansar Bait Al-Maqdis only low progress. Lastly, the Houthis in Yemen are classified under Model I.