Islamic State Bangladesh
Kashmiri demonstrators hold up a flag of the Islamic State group during a demonstration on July 18, 2014. Getty Images

Researchers at Arizona State Univerisity are using artificial intelligence technology to analyze tactics used by the Islamic State group, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL. The algorithmic system, which analyzed 2,200 incidents in the second half of 2014, found that ISIS is more likely to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) after being targeted by a bombing campaign.

“When they experience a lot of airstrikes against them, they shift away from a large infantry-style operation and use IEDs,” Dr. Paulo Shakarian, a co-author of a research paper scheduled to be presented next week, told the BBC. “We believe this relationship is because they want to prevent reinforcements from the Iraqi army getting out of Baghdad.”

Researchers unaffiliated with the study added that using so-called Big Data to identify and examine attack trends could help international forces predict what kind of strikes are most likely at what time, or provide important targeting information on where to strike against ISIS most effectively.

“Improvised explosive device incidents have been a common tactic used by Iraqi insurgents throughout the U.S.-led Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the study explained. “Though the IED comprises a smaller weapons system normally employed by local insurgent cells, spikes in such activity could be meaningful. For instance, it may indicate action ordered by a strategic-level command that is being carried out on the city level, or it may indicate improved logistic support to provide local cells the necessary munitions to carry out such operations in larger numbers.”

News of this research comes as Shakarian and a team of ASU researchers are at work on another study funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, examining how ISIS uses social media to recruit potential terrorist operatives.