To what extent has state sponsorship aided international extremist groups in their territorial expansion?

By Aish Sandeep

During 2015, Aish Sandeep, conducted a study on the overall effect of state sponsorship on the territorial expansion. The study included data analysis and evaluation to gauge the extent of the effect of state sponsorship on this expansion. The working hypothesis is that state sponsorship has allowed the ISIL greater funds, allowing them to mobilise more resources ultimately resulting in an increase in the rate of territorial expansion and an increase in the overall territory occupied by the ISIL.

Extremist groups receive their finances from various distribution channels but these can be broadly classified into three channels: the first is state sponsorship or the endorsement of terror groups by one country to attack other countries that are enemies of the sponsor country, the second is non state sponsorship or the endorsement of terror groups by particular individuals for their personal benefit and the third is private financing which consists of both legitimate means (business, trade, etc.) and illegitimate means (extortion, kidnappings, drug trafficking, etc.)


The American Government released a list of state sponsors of terrorism which consists of three nations: Iran, Sudan and Syria, furthermore according to an American report Iran and Syria have been aiding the Islamic State by providing them finances through various distribution channels.

The aim of this paper is to determine how effective state sponsorship has been for prevalent extremist groups and how it has enabled them to acquire greater territory. This aim will be approached in two sections of this paper, the first in which data on state sponsorship collected by various organizations will be studied and the second section will consist of the details of the conclusions drawn after conducting a detailed analysis of the data.

The researcher conducted preliminary analysis by collecting secondary data on the total revenue of the ISIL and what portion of it is accounted for by state sponsorship, after which data on the territory occupied by the ISIL over the years was gathered.

The study conducted through this paper will serve as an effective means of gauging the extent of the prevalence of state sponsored terrorism and will also critically analyze its effects on not only territories in the area of prominence of these extremist groups but also on international peace and stability.

This paper will identify and analyze the impact of state sponsorship on not only the financial stability of extremist groups but also how state sponsorship has affected the mobilization of resources, manpower and how it has ultimately affected the territorial expansion that these groups have achieved over the last few years.


  • Sundquist, Victor H. “COMBATING NON-STATE ORGANIZATIONS’ DEEP REACH Understanding The Expanded Influence of Non-State Actors and the Methodologies Required To Counter Their Future Growth.” n.d.: n. pag. School of Advanced Military Studies. United States Army Command and General Staff College, June 2012. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
  • Vark, Rene. “State Responsibility for Private Acts of Terrorism.” Terrorism and the State : Rethinking the Rules of State Responsibility 2006th ser. 11 (n.d.): n. pag. Institute of Law – University of Tartu, Nov. 2006. Web. 4 Oct. 2016.
  • “State Sponsors of Terrorism.” U.S. Department of State. U.S. Department of State, n.d. Web. 10 July 2016. <>.
  • “Country Reports on Terrorism 2015.” Bureau of Counter terrorism. United States Department of State Publication, 2 June 2016. Web. 10 July 2016. <>.

About the Author

Aish Sandeep

I am Aish Sandeep, a grade 12 student pursuing the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. My favourite subjects are Mathematics and Physics and my interests include global politics and international relations. My aim is to reduce the chance of ‘human extinction’ by exploring unknown places in the solar system and living in more sustainable habitats.