Neojihadist Visual Politics: Comparing YouTube Videos of North Caucasus and Uyghur Militants

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This article discusses how political Islam uses digital visual narratives to create collective identities, enable the radicalisation and recruitment of new members and gather support for political causes. YouTube videos offer a rare opportunity to gain an insight into the sequestered world of ‘neojihadism.’ This study examines the lines of the visual narrative associated with two Islamist insurgencies: the insurgency in Chechnya and that in Xinjiang (China). The purpose of the article is to describe the narratives used by the Islamist militants addressing the conflict and to identify similarities and differences in the use of visual rhetorical techniques by neojihadist groups to propagate their worldview. The study of the visual narratives promoted in the videos will help to provide a better understanding of the impact of the neojihadist narratives on the creation of collective identities. Their findings suggest that these narratives have similar features, which can be identified in a set of sub-narratives, albeit with substantial differences.

Researchers interested in exploring the radical usage of visual mediums will find ample information in this article, as will those examining the usage of YouTube in jihadist propaganda dissemination.

Full article is available here >>

Matteo Vergani and Dennis Zuev

December 2014