- “Sheep to Slaughter: The Afghan Tragedy in Five Acts” by David B. Edwards, Journal of Religion and Violence, Volume 7, Issue 2, 2019, Pages 158-188
- “The Western Jihadi Subculture and Subterranean Values” by Simon Cottee, The British Journal of Criminology, Published: 09 December 2019
- “Extremists and unconventional weapons: examining the pursuit of chemical and biological agents” by Thomas R. Guarrieri &Collin J. Meisel Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, Published online: 11 Dec 2019
- ““Yes, I can”: what is the role of perceived self-efficacy in violent online-radicalisation processes of “homegrown” terrorists?” by Linda Schlegel Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict, Published online: 06 Dec 2019
- “Lethal Images: Analyzing Extremist Visual Propaganda from ISIS and Beyond” by Stephane J Baele, Katharine A Boyd, Travis G Coan Journal of Global Security Studies, Published: 05 December 2019
- “Beyond the In-Person Interview? How Interview Quality Varies Across In-person, Telephone, and Skype Interviews” by David R. Johnson, Christopher P. Scheitle, Elaine Howard Ecklund, Social Science Computer Review, First Published December 11, 2019
- “This Is Your Brain on Terrorism: The Science Behind a Death Wish” by Scott Atran, Foreign Affairs, December 2, 2019
This essay seeks to articulate the process by which sacrifice took on new meanings, symbols, and practices in the context of the war in Afghanistan. It does so by examining five acts and the ‘axial figures’ associated with each of these acts, the first of which centers on the early efforts of Afghan political parties to change the focus of popular esteem from brave deeds to heroic deaths and the axial figure of veneration from the Warrior to the Martyr. The second act is associated with ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam who infused the figure of the Martyr with a sanctity long associated with the Sufi Saint by documenting miracles observed during and after the death of Afghan Arabs who died in the Afghan jihad. The third act involves the Taliban’s deployment of public rituals that altered the focus of sacrificial violence from collective veneration of the Martyr to the punishment of criminals who had defiled the purity of the jihad. The fourth act is associated with Osama Bin Laden who exploited the potential of using bodies as weapons of mass destruction, in the process turning the figure of the Suicide Bomber into one of the key symbols of our age. The fifth and final act discussed here involves the rise of the Islamic State and its synthesis of diverse forms of sacrificial violence, expanding and recasting these elements in a symbolic register derived from popular media and centered around the figure of the Slaughterer.
This article draws on the criminological work of Gresham Sykes and David Matza as a starting point for theorizing the nature and appeal of the western jihadi subculture, defined here as a hybrid and heavily digitized global imaginary that extols and justifies violent jihad as a way of life and being. It suggests that at the centre of this subculture are three focal concerns: (1) Violence and Machismo; (2) Death and Martyrdom; and (3) Disdain of the Dunya. More critically, it argues that these three focal concerns have immediate counterparts in the shadow values of the wider society with which western jihadists are in contention. This argument has important implications for debates over radicalization and the attractions of jihadist activism.
In this study, we examine the individual-level characteristics of extremists’ pursuit of chemical/biological (CB) agents. Using three different maximum likelihood estimation techniques, we identify three key findings. First, older extremists are more likely to pursue CB than younger extremists. Second, extremists who are jobless or students are more likely to pursue CB than employed extremists. Third, Islamist, far right, and far left extremists are less likely to pursue CB than single issue extremists. We do not find any evidence that gender or education have an effect on whether an extremist will pursue CB agents. Since there has been little quantitative examination of unconventional weapon choices among violent extremists, this study makes an important contribution to the literature on CB adversaries.
Radicalisation is influenced by a multitude of factors such as situational, social and psychological factors, including social-cognitive processes. This article explores how homegrown extremists are influenced by their perceived agency and how the beliefs of their own abilities to change their situation are directly shaped by the online-propaganda they consume using ISIS propaganda as a case study. The article serves as an exploratory analysis of the potential explanatory qualities of Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy. This preliminary theoretical work explores how online-propaganda seeks to increase perceived personal self-efficacy to inspire action. The findings indicate that an increased focus on agency beliefs may facilitate a more holistic understanding of the psycho-social processes influencing radicalization and factors driving certain individuals to perpetrate violence while others do not. More research needs to be conducted, but this work is a first exploratory step in advancing our understanding of self-efficacy beliefs in the radicalization of homegrown extremists.
Violent extremist groups regularly use pictures in their propaganda. This practice, however, remains insufficiently understood. Conceptualizing visual images as amplifiers of narratives and emotions, the present article offers an original theoretical framework and measurement method for examining the synchronic and diachronic study of the manipulative use of images by violent extremist groups. We illustrate this framework and method with a systematic analysis of the 2,058 pictures contained in the Islamic State's propaganda magazines targeting Western audiences, exposing the “visual style” of the group, and highlighting the trends and shifts in the evolution of this style following developments on the ground.
Conducting qualitative interviews in-person is usually presented as the gold standard, with other modes being seen as inferior. There have been arguments, however, that remote interviews, such as those conducted using the telephone or videoconference technologies, should be seen as equivalent to or even superior to in-person interviews. Evaluations of these claims have been limited by the small number of interviews used to compare modes. We analyze over 300 interviews conducted using three modes: in-person, telephone, and Skype. Our analyses find that in-person interviews have clear advantages when it comes to producing conversation turns and word-dense transcripts and field notes but do not significantly differ from the other two modes in interview length in minutes, subjective interviewer ratings, and substantive coding. We conclude that, although remote interviews might be necessary or advantageous in some situations, they likely do often come at a cost to the richness of information produced by the interviews.