De-Romanticizing the Islamic State’s Vision of the Caliphate

CSC has released a new white paper entitled De-Romanticizing the Islamic State’s Vision of the Caliphate.  The Executive Summary is below, and you can download the full PDF here. Executive Summary Calls for restoration of the Caliphate are a regular feature of Islamist extremist communication, most recently and notably that of the Islamic State (IS) who in mid-2014 declared a new Caliphate and named their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as Caliph. This paper analyzes the extremist vision […] Read more »

Boston Bombings: Rumor, Conspiracy, Denial

By Chris Lundry It has been over a week since the grisly bombing at the Boston Marathon, and with one perpetrator killed and another captured, analysts are now searching for the “why” and “how” answers. How did a seemingly well-adjusted young man fall under the influence of his brother and deign to commit such an act? Are others involved? Are there ties to a larger group in the US or abroad? Although some of these […] Read more »

Narrating the Exit from Afghanistan

by Steven R. Corman With the United States and NATO set to withdraw all or most forces from Afghanistan in 2014, a key question is: How do we want to be remembered for our efforts there? The current narrative of the Afghanistan war is a mess. Yet the narrative of the war, as history tells it, will affect future domestic support for counterinsurgency operations and our credibility with local populations where conflicts take place. If […] Read more »

Narrative Landmines in Syria

by Steven R. Corman On Thursday, March 20, Small Wars Journal published Narrative Landmines: The Explosive Effects of Rumors in Syria and Around the World by Scott W. Ruston, Chris Lundry, Pauline Hope Cheong and Daniel Bernardi.  Ruston and Lundry are Assistant Research Professors at the CSC, and Cheong and Bernardi are former CSC affiliates. The essay addresses rumors in Syria, based on the narrative approach to rumors that the authors present in their book Narrative Landmines: Rumors, Islamist Extremism […] Read more »

The Difference between Story and Narrative

by Steven R. Corman A presentation by John Hagel, Chairman of Deloitte, at the recent SXSW conference has been getting a lot of play in the blogosphere.  In it, Hagel advocates differentiating story from narrative.  While he is right to draw the distinction and gets some of the differences right, he misses some key features of narratives that explain why they can be so persuasive. In his presentation, Hagel notes the power of stories for […] Read more »

African Development Surge Could Play into AQIM Narrative

by Nathaniel Greenberg The Inter-University Center for Terrorism Studies at the Potomac Institute recently released a report entitled “Terrorism in North Africa and the Sahel in 2012: Global Reach and Implications.” It contains important proposals for addressing some of the humanitarian crises inflicting the region (including in the Western Sahara, which continues to divide our largest allies in the region). But it also recommends moving forward aggressive deregulation and privatization initiatives that could amplify the predominant grievance—and […] Read more »

CSC’s Steve Corman Receives ASU Founder’s Day Award

Professor Steven R. Corman, the Director of the Center for Strategic Communication and the Herberger Professor at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University, received the ASU Alumni Association Founder’s Day Faculty Achievement Service Award yesterday (Thursday, February 21). From the award announcement on the Alumni page: Steven Corman is being honored for his service to the United States military and its allies related to his research on verbal and written […] Read more »

Indonesia’s President, Commander of the Crusaders!

By Chris Lundry Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) has been branded a commander of the crusaders following the announcement that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain will be awarding him the Honorary Knight of the Grand Cross of the Order of Bath. The award has angered extremist Islamist groups, some of whom are still simmering over the recent arrest of 11 people suspected of terrorism throughout Java and the uncovering of plots to bomb […] Read more »

The Missing Narrative on al-Qaeda

by Karina Sandhu Beginning September 11, 2001 and ending on May 2, 2011, in the eyes of many Americans, the terrorist organization al-Qaeda, was born, raised, lived, and died. Despite the fact that al-Qaeda was founded in 1989 and continues to exist today, many American citizens seem to have forgotten about the organization. And why wouldn’t they? As recently as September 11, 2012 we were told by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria that currently “al-Qaeda is a […] Read more »

Narratives Behind the False Pyramid Destruction Story

by Jeffry R. Halverson For the second time this year, remnants of the pro-Mubarak media in Egypt have caused a major stir in the international press and blogosphere by spreading false stories about alleged Islamist plans for Egypt. The latest claim is that the Islamist-led government of President Mohammed Morsi intends to destroy the pyramids of Giza and the rest of Egypt’s world famous Pharaonic heritage as un-Islamic or jahili remnants of pagan idolatry. A […] Read more »