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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.

Abstract only
Imogen Richards

The contemporary type of political violence sometimes referred to as ‘neo-jihadism’ developed in a dialectical, political-economic relationship with its US-directed military and counterterrorist opposition. While the neo-jihadist organisations, Al Qaeda (AQ) and Islamic State (IS), have since their inception propagandised on the basis of widespread anti-capitalist sentiments, at the same time they exploit and contribute to the mechanisms of neoliberal and late modern capitalist finance they condemn. The nature of the dialectic between AQ, IS, and their US

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Abstract only
Imogen Richards

The cases in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism have revealed ideological and material ways in which AQ and IS engage with the political-economic paradigm of neoliberalism. While campaigning on the basis of culturally prevalent anti-capitalist sentiments, these organisations raise and manage funds by exploiting the apparatus and affordances of neoliberal political-economic systems. Although AQ and IQ are exclusive examples of the (r)evolutionary phenomenon of neo-jihadism, they are both characteristic of the mutually constitutive nature of power and resistance

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Imogen Richards

Dialectical engagements between neoliberalism and neo-jihadism correspond to a history of Western economic development and to neoliberal philosophies and policies that have yielded undesirable social, political, and economic outcomes. In this chapter, I outline a number of philosophies and policies that are subject to widespread criticism and that have been variously intersectional with the GWOT and neo-jihadism. Superficial contradictions in the political economy of neo-jihadist organisations’ propaganda and practice are apparent, and neoliberalism also

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Imogen Richards

AQ’s targeting of the New York World Trade Center and Washington Pentagon on 9/11 marked a watershed moment in public and political understandings of the phenomenon of neo-jihadism. While Al Qaeda and the ideological movement with which it was associated were in many contexts perceived as a civilisational threat ( Ali 2003 ; Dreyfuss 2006 ), the symbolic nature of 9/11 and its propagandised after-effects also drew attention to neo-jihadism’s political-economic dimensions. Some explored how the relative meaning of image-based propaganda is integral to the

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Imogen Richards

2003 ; Daragahi and Solomon 2014 ). While there has been a lack of in-depth investigation of aspects of neo-jihadism that interact with, reflect, and in some cases embody characteristics of neoliberalism, some research has broadly investigated ubiquitous ideological and material conditions that have in various measures become part of neo-jihadism. There is, for example, a relative consensus that from its June 2014 declaration of a Caliphate until 2017 IS relied upon its acquisition and retention of territory to self-finance ( Lister 2014 ; Solomon et al. 2016 ). In

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Imogen Richards

In Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism , AQ and IS’s propaganda and finance are analysed through a lens of Bourdieusian theory and with reference to a neo-Marxist interpretation of neoliberalism. Ideological and philosophical tenets of Marxist-Leninism are relevant to the historical dimension of this book’s investigation, including the evolution of neo-jihadism since the formation of AQ in 1988, at the close of the Cold War (Burke 2004). Marxist theory has long been the dominant epistemological critique of capitalism, and neo-Marxist ideas are a foundational

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Imogen Richards

Neo-jihadism’s evolution beyond AQ saw the emergence of AQI, Islamic State of Iraq, and then IS. As with propaganda produced by AQ, propaganda produced by IS condemned US military and economic activity and sought to rationalise neo-jihadist violence and recruit audiences with anti-Western and anti-capitalist grievances. Also consistent with AQ, IS spokespersons’ statements on the political economy of the US reflect the organisation’s geo-economic ambition. Where AQ propaganda over time increasingly focused on the non-material, financialised, and ideological

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
Imogen Richards

Further to its utility for attracting recruits, justifying attacks, and generating public support for neo-jihadism, the political-economic propaganda of AQ and IS is significant in the extent to which it works coterminously with these organisations’ financial practices. Through their combined propaganda and finance, AQ and IS exist in a circular causative relationship with US-led counterterrorist and military activity ( Falleti and Lynch 2009 ). Here, risk-based approaches to counterterrorism in the GWOT, including in pre-emptive wars in the Middle East and

in Neoliberalism and neo-jihadism
A dialogue with Islam as a pattern of conflict resolution and a security approach vis-à-vis Islamism
Bassam Tibi

conflict of worldviews to one related to irregular war as neo- jihad , the politicization of religion becomes a real security problem. Some of the cases in point are Kosovo, Macedonia, Chechnia and Kashmir. In the Middle East it is most unfortunate to see the al-Aqsa intifada shifting the conflict over occupation to one of order related to religion and civilizational worldviews in viewing the

in Redefining security in the Middle East