Abstract

To commemorate its declaration of a global khilafah in 2014, the Islamic State (IS) began publishing an online magazine, Dabiq, which became one of its primary recruiting tools during its rise to infamy. By using rhetoric that recalls U.S. presidential war rhetoric, specifically, tropes of “justice” and “time,” the English-language version of Dabiq fulfilled both subversive and hegemonic functions. It disrupted the reductive discourse that equates Islamic terrorists only with barbaric aggression and rendered IS as a rational global actor. Through this subversive move, IS aligned its anti-imperial interests with potential recruits in English-speaking Western countries with similar proclivities. At the same time, through its use of dominant Western war tropes, IS made a hegemonic attempt to facilitate recruits’ cultural identification so they assume a congruence of interests with IS, leading to an alignment of motives. Dabiq thus fulfilled an imperial trajectory through (neo)imperial rhetorics of identification and control. IS’s strategic use of (neo)imperial tropes in English—language of the empire—in Dabiq hence complicates monolithic (and Oriental) perceptions of the relationship between empire, imperialism, and Islamic terrorism in contemporary global political discourse. In addition, the significance of (neo) imperial tropes expands the heuristic scope of the rhetoric of terrorism by highlighting the implications of imperial ambitions and use of (neo)imperial rhetoric for the rise of global Islamic terrorism.

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