Previous session: Friday 2 June 2017 – The War on Terror, ‘blowback’ and lessons never learned

The War on Terror, ‘blowback’ and lessons never learned 

Charismatic propagandists have had an extraordinary influence within militant Islamist circles in the West. Perhaps a prime example here is Anwar Al-Awlaki, an American born Yemeni cleric turned Al-Qaeda recruiter regarded by many the most popular, most influential English-language recruiter for al-Qaeda and for the whole jihadist cause. Al-Awlaki’s charisma is rooted in a complex fusion of his image, message and the transformative charisma phenomenon (i.e. the tendency for militant Islamist charismatic leaders to emerge by building on the charismatic capital of predecessors). Moreover, Al-Awlaki’s appeal amongst supporters in the West arises from a powerful mix of inspirational and reflective qualities that simultaneously exacerbate his supporter’s perceptions of crisis and offers a solution to them. Central to these dynamics is how his image and message, particularly posthumously, came to epitomise the ‘blowback’ effects (unintended negative consequences) of the War on Terror, especially in the West. Ultimately, Al-Awlaki can be used as a case study to explore how misguided counterterrorism and Counter Violent Extremism strategies have inadvertently ostracised and even undermined Muslim communities who are most crucial for confronting violent extremists.

The Majlis asks:

  • How to understand and confront the propaganda messaging of violent extremists like Al-Qaeda and the so-called Islamic State?
  • How can counter violent extremism strategies in the west harness the contribution of Muslim communities?

In this session, we are delighted to be joined by Dr Haroro J. Ingram. Dr Ingram is a  research fellow with the Department of International Relations in the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the ANU. His primary research analyses the role of propaganda in the strategies of violent non-state political movements with Islamic State and the Afghan Taliban as major case studies. He is also a research associate with the International Centre for Counter-terrorism (ICCT, The Hague). At the ICCT, he works with the Counter-terrorism Strategic Communications (CTSC) Project team and has authored or co-authored several articles on a range of topics related to how best to understand and counter extremist propaganda. 

The following articles are suggested background readings on the topic. They are not required for participation, rather, they are provided for those who would like to prepare for our discussion:

Where and when?

11am-1230pm, Friday 26 May

Majlis sessions in 2017 takes place on the first Friday of each month at 11am, and are held at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS) at the ANU.

We welcome suggestions for topics that are of interest to participants. If you would like to suggest a topic, speaker, or make a presentation yourself, please contact us.


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