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The Religion of Unbelief is One: Understanding Violent Extremist Discourse from a Linguistic Perspective

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Publication date31/12/2022
Host publicationSEARCCT’S Selection of Articles 2022
PublisherSoutheast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Past scholarly literature discussing violent extremist ideologies has been well-documented. Although these studies have managed to point out what the ideologies are, with discussions of the general strategies used (e.g. holy texts taken out of context, the binary ‘good vs evil’ narrative), not so much of attention has been on how these strategies are executed and why. Therefore, in this article we attempt to address this gap by using a linguistic approach, specifically the critical discursive analysis to discuss the multimodal elements (textual, auditory and visual features) used to construct certain ideologies. Understanding the historical, political or social contexts of the elements used may help to demystify the ideologies of the group under study (Daesh) and help to better understand the ways these contexts have been manipulated to appeal to the target audiences. To do this, Reisigl and Wodak’s (2016) discourse-historical approach (DHA) to critical discourse studies is employed. Significant findings include Daesh’s enemies being projected as aggressors and warmongers that provoke hostilities in the so-called Islamic State, as well as the negative representation of the wider Muslims which contradicts the typical “us vs. them” dichotomy. Ultimately, this research aims to further a detailed understanding of digitally mediated recruitment strategies from a linguistic perspective which may help to reduce the risk of radicalisation among vulnerable groups.