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Imogen Richards

The continued investigation of neo-jihadist propaganda in this chapter begins with an account of historical and contemporary ideologues that influenced Islamic State at its inception, in particular the pseudonymous author of The Management of Savagery, Abu Bakr Naji, and draws on the insights of Will McCants and Robert Mann. It then proceeds with a critical analysis of Islamic State speeches and audiovisual propaganda produced and disseminated by leading figures and entities affiliated within the organisation leading up to and after its announcement of a Caliphate in 2014. These figures include Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, and the production entities Al Hayat and Al Furqan. The analysis of media documents is informed by Bourdieu’s explanation of the dialectical relationship between ‘materiality’ and ‘idealism’ and foregrounds the ‘historical materialism’ focus of Islamic State propaganda relative to the ‘idealism’ focus of propaganda disseminated by Al Qaeda. The investigation also considers how this focus on the part of Islamic State reflects the organisation’s own geo-economic and strategic interests, including its need to retain and exploit territory in the Middle East in governing the Caliphate during its peak from 2014 to 2017.

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Propaganda and finance in Al Qaeda and Islamic State
Author: Imogen Richards

Few social and political phenomena have been debated as frequently or fervidly as neoliberalism and neo-jihadism. Yet, while discourse on these phenomena has been wide-ranging, they are rarely examined in relation to one another. In response, Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism examines political-economic characteristics of twentieth and early twenty-first-century neo-jihadism. Drawing on Bourdieusian and neo-Marxist ideas, it investigates how the neo-jihadist organisations, Al Qaeda and Islamic State, engage with the late modern capitalist paradigm of neoliberalism in their anti-capitalist propaganda and quasi-capitalist financial practices. An investigation of documents and discourses reveals interactions between neoliberalism and neo-jihadism characterised by surface-level contradiction, and structural connections that are dialectical and mutually reinforcing. Neoliberalism here is argued to constitute an underlying ‘status quo’, while neo-jihadism, as an evolving form of political organisation, is perpetuated as part of this situation.

Representing differentiated, unique, and exclusive examples of the (r)evolutionary phenomenon of neo-jihadism, AQ and IS are demonstrated in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism to be characteristic of the mutually constitutive nature of ‘power and resistance’. Just as resistance movements throughout modern history have ended up resembling the forms of power they sought to overthrow, so too have AQ and IS ended up resembling and reconstituting the dominant political-economic paradigm of neoliberalism they mobilised in response to.

Imogen Richards

This chapter establishes a frame of inquiry through which the dialectical engagements of the anti-capitalist posturing and quasi-capitalist practices of the neo-jihadist organisations, Al Qaeda and Islamic State, are investigated in later chapters. In doing so, it provides a brief history of neoliberalism, extending from the US and UK administrations of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, beginning in 1979 and 1980 respectively. It elaborates on neo-Marxist geo-economic theory presented by David Harvey, Bob Jessop, and Jamie Peck, in preparation to apply this theory to explain Al Qaeda and Islamic State’s respective geo-economic interests. Theories of neoliberalism, the forms of capital, and dialectics in Bourdieusian theory are also outlined, as is Bourdieu’s influence on the research design of the book. The final part of the chapter explains the data collection and methods of analysis used in the chapters, as well as the key sources used and research limitations.

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Imogen Richards

The details of neoliberal philosophies and policies, as they relate to both neo-jihadism and the Global War on Terrorism, are set out in this chapter. Drawing on the work of John Gray, the first part of the chapter discusses the positivist and modern philosophical premises of neoliberalism, along with its fundamentalist and neo-colonial attributes. Extending these philosophical characteristics to a consideration of neoliberal policies, the second half of the chapter comprises an account of high-profile neoliberal case studies, from the 2008 Global Financial Crisis to deregulated labour conditions in less developed countries, and the growth of US military industries in the Global War on Terrorism. Extending insights from Thomas Piketty’s 2014 Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the chapter also examines how the monetarist precepts of neoliberal reasoning and its ‘meritocratic extremism’ have contributed to exacerbating wealth inequality within the US and internationally, creating environments generative of political violence.

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Bringing lessons from the past
Laura Fernández de Mosteyrín

This chapter examines how the global CVE paradigm is being transposed in Spain. In analysing the recent counter-terrorist past and contemporary communication of CVE strategy, this chapter makes two arguments: overall, that as CVE programmes are globalised, case specificities have a definite power to shape the transposition; and that legitimation was central to past counter-terrorism and has been wrought into a ‘masterpiece’ of the contemporary CVE approach. Exploring why and how ‘communicating’ is a priority within the Spanish CVE strategy is a question which sheds light on the specificities of the Spanish case, on the global diffusion of CVE, and on the broader problem of coercion and legitimation.

in Encountering extremism
Ontological, epistemological and normative issues
Sondre Lindahl

Although violent extremism is now considered a severe security threat in many countries, the term remains vague and contested. This chapter explores primarily how Weber’s theory of the ideal type can be used as a way of maintaining the ontological, epistemological and normative commitments of Critical Terrorism Studies in relation to research on violent extremism. It will be argued that the ideal type provides an ontologically and epistemologically coherent and consistent research methodology, which is compatible with emancipation as the normative commitment of Critical Terrorism Studies. The chapter provides an example of how ideal types of terrorism and violent extremism can be constructed.

in Encountering extremism
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Inapplicability and necessity in Bosnia Herzegovina
Tanya Dramac Jiries

More than twenty years after the end of the fighting, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has continued to face the war’s aftermath. BiH’s post-war political and socio-economic conditions have shown little improvement, raising the real possibility of renewed armed conflict. BiH confronted a new challenge that exacerbated its stalled development and bleak future: foreign fighters joining wars in Syria and Iraq. Although ample research has been undertaken to ‘counter violent extremism’ (CVE), policymakers and academics still struggle to explain why Bosnian citizens took up arms in states they had never visited, alongside recruits they had never met, against enemies they had never encountered. Moreover, despite the bevy of research and recommendations, in general, the BiH government does not know how to mitigate future occurrences of violent extremism. Consequently, this chapter analyses the inapplicability of mainstream CVE logic in this multi-ethnic country, and in particular, its orthodox approach to Islamic fundamentalism. It argues that post-conflict states must do more to deliberately minimise romanticised notions of war in efforts aimed at younger generations, especially in countries like BiH, where the peacebuilding process never effectively took root.

in Encountering extremism
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Women and the narrative of extremist violence in Pakistan
Afiya Shehrbano Zia

Midway into the war on terror, in 2007, Pakistan witnessed the spectacular and bloody encounter between state forces and the resisting disciples of the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in the capital city of Islamabad. This event exposed the lack of national consensus about religious extremism and the place of religion in Pakistan. This chapter outlines CVE policy discussions about terrorism and counter-terrorism in Pakistan as exclusively steered by the military establishment. These have been masculine and imbricated in religio-nationalism and have excluded the voices of women, minorities, civilian or secular sensibilities. The radical role played by the women of the Lal Masjid defied the post-9/11 theories about Muslim women’s docile agency, or those that portrayed Islamist women as victims of ‘liberal-secular’ demonising and misunderstanding. Instead, the uprising of the women of the seminary of the Jamia Hafsa directly challenged the proposal that mosque women’s politics benignly and rationally pivots simply around their piety. It revealed the precarious nexus between piety, agency, and radical or extremist politics. The chapter argues that CVE is unlikely to progress unless this connectivity between piety and radical religious narratives is recognised and opposed, and women’s voices are included in CVE policymaking.

in Encountering extremism
Theoretical issues and local challenges

Recent years have seen the proliferation of discourses surrounding extremism and related terms. Encountering Extremism offers readers the opportunity to interrogate extremism through a plethora of theoretical perspectives, and to explore counter-extremism as it has materialised in plural local contexts. Through offering a critical interrogation along these two planes – the theoretical and the local – Encountering Extremism presents a unique, in-depth and critical analysis of a profoundly important subject. This book seeks to understand, and expose the implications of, a fundamental problematic: how should scholars and strategists alike understand the contemporary shift from counter-terrorism to counter-extremism?

Starting with a genealogical reflection on the discourse and practices of extremism, the book brings together authors examining the topic of extremism, countering extremism and preventing extremism from different theoretical perspectives, such as critical terrorism studies, postcolonialism and gender studies. It then turns to analyses of the specific consequences of this new discourse in international and local contexts such as the United Nations, Nigeria, Tunisia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Spain.

A critical examination of theoretical issues and local challenges
Alice Martini, Kieran Ford, and Richard Jackson

This chapter introduces the reader to the books. It contextualises the problematic discourses and practices related to extremism and underlines the importance and unique aspects of this book. It then describes the content of each chapter and links them together. Lastly, it provides an overview of ‘what can be learnt’ from the book as a whole.

in Encountering extremism