Islamic State recruiting in the west: how Dabiq frames recruitment messages to appeal to Westerners
Burke, Tyrone B.
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This thesis investigates Dabiq magazine’s messaging strategy to recruit foreign fighters from Western nations to fight in Islamic State (IS)-controlled areas. Dabiq magazine uses three main messages to appeal to Westerners: 1) loss aversion stresses that Muslims worldwide need to travel to IS-controlled areas to fight, or they risk losing Islam as a religion, culture, and identity; 2) selective incentives stress that potential recruits can gain tangible and intangible rewards in an effort to increase participation; and 3) sense of duty stresses that every Muslim is obligated to aid other suffering Muslims. This thesis evaluates the 15 issues of Dabiq magazine released from July 2014 to July 2016 to quantitatively analyze which of the three messages is presented most often throughout the magazine. Also, it draws correlations to real-world events that could possibly explain what drives IS’s messaging approach. The study finds that Dabiq almost equally stresses the loss aversion and sense-of-duty message, and the trends follow three distinct phases. Initially, Dabiq stressed the sense-of-duty argument, then faced a transition period, and eventually switched to stressing the loss aversion argument in the last five issues. The recruiting message’s emphasis changes dynamically based on real-time anti-terrorism efforts.
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