Leadership in the reborn caliphate: thematic network analysis of ISIL’s E-zine Dābiq
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 12:05 authored by David Hooker
Dābiq is an electronic magazine (e-zine) that utilises strategic utopianism and savagery messages supported by exemplary leadership, eschatological interpretations, and current events reports. This project analyses the narrative themes present within Dābiq and how relevant and prevalent these themes are across issues. The project applies Thematic Network Analysis of the first six issues of Dābiq, laying foundations for understanding ISIL’s culture and for counter-narrative development. It argues that present terminology and first generation research constrain understanding of ISIL’s cultural specifics. Analyses of Militant Islamist rhetoric have a broad scholarly history; however, much scholarship has been restrictive in scope. Instead of producing understanding regarding specific Muslim cultures, scholarship instead often produces wider debates dichotomising the driving forces behind violent extremism. The broad scope of this debate primarily endorses theses of either political or religious motivation. This project establishes that Militant Islam in the case of ISIL and its rhetoric within Dābiq contains attributes of both political and religious narratives. The further research establishes that the terminology in current parlance may be inadequate through its false dichotomy of religious or political root causes. This project argues for a specific distinction between terminologies such as Islam, Islamism, and Militant Islamism, and that counter terrorism research into specific Militant Islam cultures is required. Finally, this project establishes that an ‘Exemplary Leadership’ theme dominates ISIL’s rhetoric within Dābiq. This supports the contention that counter-narratives require cooperation from Muslim leaders for their successful transmission. Additionally, in the case of ISIL, this research lends some credible support for military ‘targeting’ strategies in relation to anti-ISIL actions.