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

by R. Bennett Furlow, Kristin Fleischer and Steven R. Corman 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 of the Caliphate from a strategic communication point of view, revealing its vulnerability. Extremists construct a narrative of an […] Read more »

The Narrative Landscape of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb

by Valentina Bartolucci and Steven R. Corman This report presents the results of an analysis of the narrative landscape produced in texts by and about al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) from 2007 to 2013. We analyzed invocation of cultural master narrative use by the group, and then performed a detailed thematic study of the texts using Critical Discourse Analysis. This report is timely, as there are indications that the threat of terrorism in North […] Read more »

Extremism and Victimhood in the U.S. Context

by R. Bennett Furlow Political extremism is not a new phenomenon. From the Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s to the Weather Underground of the 1960s, political extremism has been a present force on both the political right and left. This study looks at four modern day extremist groups, two from the right and two from the left, and examines their use of rhetoric and narrative. A comparison is also made between these groups and the […] Read more »

Hate Speech and the Indonesian Islamic Defenders Front

Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders Front – FPI) is a domestic Indonesian terrorist organization. Its goal is the implementation of Shari’ah at national and local levels in Indonesia. It presents itself as an ally of government security forces in their attempts to control sin and vice. It uses hate speech to motivate and legitimize violent attacks on organizations and individuals it considers to be sinful or religiously deviant. It has targeted Christian minorities and members […] Read more »

How Islamist Extremists Quote the Qur’an

Islamist extremists make heavy use of the Qur’an (Islam’s most sacred text) in their strategic communication. This study analyzed the most frequently cited or quoted verses in the Center for Strategic Communication’s database of over 2,000 extremist texts.  The texts date from the years 1998 to 2011, and originate primarily from the Middle East and North Africa. Taking this data as a starting point, we provide a qualitative analysis of the historical contexts and core […] Read more »

Wahhabi Perspectives on Pluralism and Gender: A Saudi – Indonesian Contrast

by Inayah Rohmaniyah & Mark Woodward In public discourse about Islam, “Wahhabi” is usually a synonym for intolerance, misogyny, and extremism. Though this is sometimes true it is an over-generalization. In this paper we contrast two very different forms of Wahhabi Islam focusing on education, religious pluralism and gender relations. The first is the Wahhabism of the Saudi state. Saudi Wahhabism couples this theological orientation with intolerance of all other forms of religion and a […] Read more »

The Tariq ibn Ziyad Master Narrative

by Jeffry R. Halverson Master narratives provide important insights into the cultures and societies that analysts and diplomats encounter on a daily basis. Understanding how those narratives are utilized by factions hostile to the interests of the United States can be the difference between successful diplomacy and international catastrophe. Given the current geo-political climate, master narratives employed by Islamist extremists are among the most important. Many of those narratives are recorded and analyzed in the […] Read more »

A New Cultural Path for Indonesia’s Islamist PKS?

by Mark Woodward, Ali Amin, Inaya Rohmaniyah, Chris Lundry With the commencement of Indonesia‟s transition to democracy, following 32 years of rule by the military dictator Suharto, political space has opened for dozens of political parties to form and regularly contest elections. The Partai Keadilan Sejahtera (the Prosperity and Justice Party, PKS) is an Islamist party that emerged following the first post-1999 democratic elections, with roots that extend to the pre-Suharto era. Although Indonesia has […] Read more »

A Counter-Narrative for Iranian Tyranny

by Jeffry R. Halverson The ruling regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran is increasingly known for a militant foreign policy posture, abuse of the human rights of its citizens, and a suspected nuclear weapons program that threatens to destabilize the Middle East region. It is in the interests of all parties involved, save for the Iranian regime itself, to bring about the radical reform of Iran’s political system, especially in light of its increasing […] Read more »

Lessons from Aceh Terrorist De-Radicalization

by Mark Woodward, Ali Amin & Inayah Rohmaniyah Although the International Crisis Group’s reports on radicalism in Indonesia are extremely detailed and well informed, their recommendations tend to be short-term solutions aimed at preventing terrorist acts in the near term. This report argues the value of a longer term approach to both prevent radicalization as well as to rehabilitate jihadis who have been identified and arrested. Although the ―soft‖ approach to imprisoning arrested jihadis is […] Read more »