Working Paper Series


All invited to the fourth monthly meeting of the Global Security Hub, which continues the working paper series. This month, the presentation will be by Stuart Macdonald, Professor of Law and Criminology at Swansea University, U.K., and Visiting Fullbright Scholar at the Orfalea Center. Dr. Macdonald studied Law at the Universities of Cambridge (BA) and Southampton (PhD). In 2005 he joined Swansea University, where he was appointed Professor in 2016. He is co-director of the University’s £7.6m EPSRC CHERISH Digital Economy Centre ( and the multidisciplinary Cyberterrorism Project (, author of Text, Cases and Materials on Criminal Law (Pearson, 2015) and co-editor of Violent Extremism Online: New Perspectives on Terrorism and the Internet (Routledge, 2016), Terrorism Online: Politics, Law and Technology (Routledge, 2015) and Cyberterrorism: Understanding, Assessment and Response (Springer, 2014). He has previously received research funding from the British Academy and NATO’s Emerging Security Challenges Division, and has held visiting scholarships at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Université de Grenoble-Alpes, University of Sydney and Columbia University, New York. He is a member of EUROPOL’s Advisory Group on online terrorist propaganda, and the holder of a 2016/17 Fulbright Cyber Security Award.

Terrorist Narratives and Communicative Devices: Findings from a Study of Online Terrorist Magazines

This talk will present findings from a multidisciplinary study of five online terrorist magazines. These magazines – which were all produced by groups following a jihadist ideology – published a total of 39 issues during the data collection period (1 January 2009 to 30 June 2015), containing a combined total of 892,174 words and 3869 images. The talk will begin with an overview of the composition of the magazines and the content of the images found within their pages, highlighting some of the differences that exist between the different groups’ publications. It will then focus specifically on Dabiq, the magazine published by the so-called Islamic State, analysing this using the framework of responsive regulation. The argument will be that, whilst there are obvious dissimilarities between the efforts of regulators and the producers of Dabiq, the two have one key feature in common: both seek to achieve compliance with a given set of norms by inducing behavioural and attitudinal change. The subsequent analysis will be organised into three sections: the persuasive techniques employed in Dabiq; the interplay between these techniques; and, the role played by assessments of (procedural as well as substantive) fairness.


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Ben Smith
Ben Smith
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