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Progressive Terrorism Studies Webinar Series – Locating Meaning in Salafi Jihadi Content

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22 September 2020, 14:00
RUSI Members Only
The second webinar in this series is a data-driven exploration of the intended meaning of Salafi-Jihadi content to give an insight into the writing, theology and strategy of these groups.

The research presented by Dr Ali Fisher and Dr Nico Prucha in this session is a synthesis of three studies which have respectively examined: the documents shared in the ‘Caliphate Library’ Telegram channel, a 300,000-page archive of Salafi-Jihadi material in primarily Arabic-language pdf, and a largescale analysis of the keywords and phrases used in an archive of over 200,000 primarily Arabic-language documents published by the Salafi-Jihadi movement. The research applies a forensic linguistics inspired approach which seeks to develop a progressive, evidence-based approach to understanding Salafi-Jihadi content. 

These studies demonstrate what the Arabic core of the movement writes about and how this connects to a coherent theologically-driven world view.  Drawing on these findings, the webinar will focus on the questions: ‘What do Salafi-Jihadi groups talk about?’, ‘What meaning is encoded into the images, video, audio and text circulated by these groups?’, ‘How is Salafi-Jihadi material being produced’, and, ‘Is the production software used for these materials likely to be on the laptop of average university students?’. A misunderstanding of the material has often led to erroneous claims, such as the frequent assertion that Salafi-Jihadi groups are defeated, even while they continue to fight.

This session will be of use to researchers who are seeking to access the core of the Salafi-Jihadi movement and understand the meaning of that content, policymakers seeking to challenge or counter Salafi-Jihadi da'wa (missionary work), those working to deter new recruits from joining the movement, and tech professionals wanting to refine their approaches to identifying content.  

 The discussion was chaired by Emily Winterbotham, Director, RUSI Terrorism & Conflict Group

Open to RUSI Members Only

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