Media Persuasion in the Islamic State

Neil Krishan Aggarwal

Columbia University Press

Media Persuasion in the Islamic State

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Pub Date: March 2019

ISBN: 9780231182386

256 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $65.00£50.00

Pub Date: March 2019

ISBN: 9780231544122

256 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $64.99£50.00

Media Persuasion in the Islamic State

Neil Krishan Aggarwal

Columbia University Press

Since the declaration of the War on Terror in 2001, militant groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have used the Internet to disseminate their message and persuade people to violence. While many books have studied their operational strategies and battlefield tactics, Media Persuasion in the Islamic State is the first to analyze the culture and psychology of militant persuasion.

Drawing upon decades of research in cultural psychiatry, cultural psychology, and psychiatric anthropology, Neil Krishan Aggarwal investigates how the Islamic State has convinced people to engage in violence since its founding in 2003. Through analysis of hundreds of articles, speeches, videos, songs, and bureaucratic documents in English and Arabic, the book traces how the jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi created a new culture and psychology, one that would pit Sunni Muslims against all others after the U.S.-led invasion. Aggarwal tracks how Osama bin Laden and al-Zarqawi disagreed over the goal of militancy in jihad before reaching a détente in 2004 and how al-Qaeda in Iraq merged with five other groups to diffuse its militant cultural identity in 2006 before taking advantage of the Syrian civil war to emerge as the Islamic State. Aggarwal offers a definitive analysis of how culture is created, debated, and disseminated within militant organizations like the Islamic State. Psychiatrists, psychologists, and area-studies experts will find a comprehensive, systematic method for analyzing culture and psychology so they can partner with political scientists, policy makers, and counterterrorism experts in crafting counter-messaging strategies against militants.
Aggarwal creates a complete and engaging analysis of the material, providing a wealth of diverse academic theory and making a series of innovative and intriguing links between the functioning of terrorist organizations and non-terroristic counterparts. He brings a unique perspective to the area and an expertise that allows him to understand and investigate the role that the materials play in a more nuanced and theoretical manner. John Voll, Georgetown University

About the Author

Neil Krishan Aggarwal is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, a cultural psychiatrist in private practice, and a research psychiatrist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He is also the author of the Columbia University Press books Mental Health in the War on Terror: Culture, Science, and Statecraft (2015) and The Taliban’s Virtual Emirate: The Culture and Psychology of an Online Militant Community (2016).