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The Language of Jihad: Narratives and Strategies of Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula

Benedict Wilkinson and Jack Barclay
Whitehall Reports, 6 January 2012
Terrorism and Conflict, The Gulf Region, Terrorism
Despite recent setbacks for the terrorist organisation, AQAP's communications strategy suggests a new model for global jihadist mobilisation

Yemen, afflicted by internal crisis, is slipping towards the precipice of state failure. Over the last year, there have been idespread protests against the regime, a bloody crackdown, the promise of political transition, and fighting between rival factions of the military.

Pessimists fear that Al-Qa’ida will flourish in another lawless haven for terrorism. Of particular concern for Western security has been the terrorist group, Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, which has developed a sophisticated media strategy for mobilising and radicalising recruits not just in the Middle East, but also in the West – as highlighted by the online English-language jihadist magazine, Inspire.

This Whitehall Report analyses how Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula has built and uses this communications apparatus. It argues that while this shows the terrorist group to indeed be a real threat to the West, it is nevertheless important not to overstate its capabilities. Though Yemen teeters on the brink of political upheaval, the UK and partner states can pursue a selection of policies, from strategic communications to counter-terrorism, to mitigate the Al-Qa’ida threat and defeat its narrative.

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