The Path to Persuasion: An Investigation into how Al-Shabab Constructs their Brand in their Digital Magazine Gaidi Mtaani.

Branding strategies are becoming increasingly important for terrorist organisations who need
to take a more purposeful approach at imbuing aspirational associations to their organisations
in order secure recruits and funds in an increasingly competitive environment. The creation
and implication of these individual brands are further amplified through the sophisticated
harnessing of ICT and digital media, where the harnessing of novel tactics and digital trends
feed into the increasing use of branding. It is a strategy being employed by numerous terrorist
groups, and a burgeoning research field is rapidly evolving to represent this development.
This study seeks to explore how al-Shabab constructs their brand in their digital magazine
Gaidi Mtaani, using Aristotle’s rhetorical triad of ethos, pathos and logos. This study has the
hopes of contributing to comparison studies between Dabiq and Inspire and wider terrorist
branding, terrorism, ICT and communication studies. Understanding the differences between
how some of the most notorious terrorist organizations distinguish themselves will help
counter the rhetoric and brand associations projected through their publications. In order to
answer this research question, this study will consist of a two-part theoretical framework
situated in the concept of branding and rhetoric theory. Rhetoric theory will help this study
understand how al-Shabab communicate and constructs their brand. It will allow for the
analysis of any persuasive communications that express al-Shabab’s brand associations and
help analyse al-Shabab’s divisive use of language in order to ultimately promote their brand
and ideas. The empirical data will be analysed through the use of qualitative content analysis.

Tags: Al Shabaab, Content Analysis, Narratives, Qualitative