UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Invocation of the word : identifying influences of terminology across extremist rhetoric Areifiz, Afeed


The thesis seeks to identify the rhetorical purpose of three key terms used by ISIS – martyr, Caliphate, and paradise –, extracted from the records of ISIS recruitment propaganda. At the outset, the thesis frames the discussion of these terms in the context of existing literature in order to evaluate the efficacy of contemporary counterterrorist measures. The material reveals the limitations of counterterrorist efforts that solely employ suppressive and militaristic resistance against extremists, while also revealing the effectiveness of narratives that promote community and empower the individual to shape and contribute to their surroundings. The thesis then presents a rhetorical analysis of the prevailing “war on terror” narrative, asserting that it promotes the very conditions of divisiveness and fear that ISIS capitalizes upon for its recruitment, which in turn impedes counterterrorist initiatives. The subsequent analysis of the ISIS terms martyr, Caliphate, and paradise reveal the ways in which the words tap into feelings of helplessness and isolation, offer the idea of community, belonging and purpose, and promise would-be recruits the ability to become part of the constitutive narratives that shape the identity of ISIS. In light of the limitations of the prevailing “war on terror” narrative and the efficacy of ISIS’s dialogue in manipulating vulnerable targets, the thesis asserts the need for counterterror measures that study and demystify ISIS’s recruitment rhetoric by engaging and subverting the ideological bases for the terms, and by offering moderate alternatives that appeal to at-risk targets.. 

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International