Recruiting Followers For The Caliphate: A Narrative Analysis Of Four Jihadist Magazines

This study identifies and compares the methods of recruitment used by three prime jihadist organizations through their online magazines. The successful recruitment efforts and growth as a threat by the Islamic State of Iraq and Shām (ISIS), Al-Qaeda, and Al-Shabaab are attributed, in part, to the widespread popularity and accessibility of Dabiq and Rumiyah (published by ISIS), Inspire (published by Al-Qaeda), and Gaidi Mtaani (published by Al-Shabaab). In order to best examine the techniques of persuasion and propaganda to recruit new followers, the theoretical approach of compliance-gaining theory and methodological approach of narrative analysis are applied. The author analyzed a total of twelve magazine issues to compare how the four magazines use (1) imagery, (2) attrition, (3) intimidation, (4) propaganda, (5) spoiling, (6) outbidding, (7) incitement, and (8) recruitment. To validate each of these themes, the study applies an open-coding instrument to select each label based on specific dimensions. These findings reveal how the same purpose to achieve the Caliphate can be chosen on a similar path by these three different jihadist organizations. This path may take different turns at certain spots, but ultimately the road is based on the same historical context to justify the recruitment process. Overall, this study provides fresh descriptive insights on jihadist organizations’ recruitment methods to gain new followers toward the achievement of the Caliphate (i.e., the global Islamic state). The sample reveals that the online jihadist magazines integrate all analyzed themes to portray their messages. The findings show certain issues implement specific themes more than others. Across the sample, the use of persuasion justified and encouraged violence. Persuasion is found in prideful examples of successful terrorist attacks and aftermath scenes of destruction. The distinct difference between the four online jihadist magazines is the persuasion of recruitment.

Tags: Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Magazine, Propaganda, Recruitment