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Representing the West and “non-believers” in the online jihadist magazines Dabiq and Inspire


Critical Studies on TerrorismJournal abstract

This article analyses how jihadist ideology groups discursively represent “the West” and “non-believers” in their online propagandamagazines. In doing so, it contributes to the field of Critical Terrorism Studies conceptually, by considering the voices of violent actors, and methodologically, by illustrating how linguistic tools of enquiry can advance current knowledge of jihadist ideology groups. Our work adopts a case study approach, focusing on the online magazines Inspire and Dabiq, which are part of the propaganda machinery of, respectively, Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The analysis reveals a number of similarities and differences in the discursive strategies that these twogroups use. On the one hand, both Inspire and Dabiq support and further construct an “us versus them” dichotomy thatpolarises differences between their jihadist ideologies and those of Westerners/non-believers. On the other, Dabiq’s discursiverepresentation of “the West” targets a wider variety of individuals and groups of people and geographical locations than Inspire’s. Additionally, Inspire places a greater focus on the pejorative construction of “the West” than Dabiq, suggesting that Al-Qaeda places more emphasis than ISIS on presenting “the West” as the enemy of jihad.

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