ISIS and Al-Qaeda: A Study of Islamist Propaganda

Gallahan, Nicole, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
al-Rahim, Ahmed, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Ochs, Peter, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

The Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda (AQ) are well known and fairly well researched in the modern world. The two terrorist organizations were once closely affiliated and have since split drastically. Their similarities, differences, and tensions are well documented in the literature, but what is less documented is what they directly say about one another. I have conducted a content analysis of ISIS’s Rumiyah and Dabiq searching for direct mentions of AQ, as well as a content analysis of AQ’s Inspire looking for direct mentions of ISIS. My findings reveal that although their relationship has been well documented in the literature, they do not say much about each other in the publications. There are of course some mentions of one another, but a search for obvious key terms revealed little in the two organizations’ very detailed publications. Therefore, I conducted a closer reading of the publications, which highlighted both the audiences of the publications as well as their utopian, specifically millenarian, ideologies. While there are some differences between the publications’ millenarian ideologies and audiences, it shows both organizations are more focused on spreading their ideology to their respective audiences, which do not include one another therefore, explaining the lack of mentions of the opposing organization in Dabiq, Rumiyah, and Inspire.

MA (Master of Arts)
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