The Discourse of Terror Threats: Assessing Online Written Threats by Nigerian Terrorist Groups

Online threats by terrorist groups are viewed as a special type of discourse that sends menacing explicit messages, expressing not only an intention to cause a direct physical harm to the threatened, but also to show a commitment to destroy public property or cause a change of system or government. This study applies critical discourse analysis with some insights from pragmatics to analyze the discourse-pragmatic contents of terror threats by two terrorist groups in Nigeria—Boko Haram and Ansaru. Explicit and implied threats are examined from seven online publications by these groups written between 2009 and 2012. This study shows that terror threats by Nigerian terrorist groups are intertextually and ideologically related to threats associated with Al Qaeda and global jihad, which also goes further to establish their strong link and influence with other terror groups around the world. The findings also show that the structure of terror threats is significantly different from the conventional formula for verbal threats.

Tags: Al-Qaeda, Ansaru, Boko Haram, Discourse Analysis, Violent Jihadism