Iraqi Insurgents’ Use Of Youtube As A Strategic Communication Tool: An Exploratory Content Analysis

This dissertation study is a baseline investigation into Iraqi insurgents’ use of YouTube as a strategic communication tool. The study utilized a content analysis of videos from October 28, 2008, to December 1, 2008, for the search term ‘Iraqi resistance’ on YouTube that met stated criteria. Overall framing devices and themes found in the collection of videos were examined. While not a random sample, the collection of videos was selected as a representation of the overall population of Iraqi insurgent videos for the time frame examined. Along with a more open interpretation of frames, the study examined those which may be used to recruit and/or send anti-U.S. sentiment. It builds upon previous research in related areas and applies theory with a focus on Social Identity, Diffusion of Innovation, Cultivation, and Framing in an attempt to explore the phenomenon. The methodological design establishes a baseline for future comparison and study since the topic of Iraqi insurgents’ use of YouTube has yet to be examined extensively in the academic arena. Overall, there were 54 videos that met set criteria examined for this study. Of these, most were documentary attacks. While there were 28 Iraqi insurgent groups represented in the videos, only 4 Iraqi insurgent groups were identified in five or more videos. These were Islamic State of Iraq (25.9%, n=14), Iraqi Resistance (24.2%, n=13), Ansar al-Islam (18.5%, n=10), and Jaish al-Mujahideen (13%, n=7). Two of these four groups have a media arm devoted to creating their video content and acting as a media representative to the public and members of the group. There was not a large difference in quality or appeals used between groups with and without a media arm. Analysis of the data suggested Iraqi insurgent groups are using YouTube to recruit and send Anti-U.S. sentiment. There was a presence of several framing devices some of which included religious, nationalistic, anti-U.S., intimidation, and defenses. Overall, videos in the sample had a large presence of violence depicted, especially against U.S. military members.

Tags: Islamic Extremism, Islamic State, YouTube