Honour in terrorism: The development of the role of honour in the propaganda of Al Qaeda
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This thesis seeks to explicate the mechanism of honour in the propaganda of jihadist organisations, specifically Al Qaeda. Honour is a complex and multifaceted notion that has been under-researched in the academic literature until now and has never been convincingly connected to Islamic terrorism. Yet, the propaganda of militant jihadist organisations is filled with references to honour. In an explorative qualitative manner, the rhetoric of Al Qaeda is analysed for its use of the concept of ‘honour’. The main research question is: How does honour function in the propaganda of Al Qaeda over time? To answer this question, a framework is drafted based on secondary sources about honour. Different mechanisms of honour are extracted from the characteristics discussed in these sources. With this framework, the role of honour in two types of primary sources is analysed: the speeches of Osama bin Laden and in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s propaganda magazine Inspire. Al Qaeda is the longest standing jihadist terrorist organisation and is still operating today. The longevity of the organisation allows an analysis of the development of the use of honour over time. The historical development of Al Qaeda will be explained and changes in the use of honour will be compared to different phases in the development of the organisation. Since jihadist terrorism is one of the most pressing threats to the freedom and safety in the West today, a thorough understanding of honour might contribute to countering this threat.