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Jihadi Violence

A study of al-Qaeda’s media



The study investigates the ideological origins of religiously inspired violence by analyzing al-Qaeda’s media. The systematic analysis of video messages and claims of responsibility reveal new insights into the worldview of this fundamentalist movement, including its expectations concerning for which ends religiously inspired violence can be a means for. The results show how religious fanaticism and political considerations are inseparably linked in the ideology of the jihadi movement. Both dimensions, the strategic and the theological, drive jihadi militancy and guide violent action by jihadi insurgents on the ground, as the analysis of almost 200 claims of responsibility issued by jihadi insurgents in Iraq clearly shows. In al-Qaeda’s ideology, theological and political arguments are blended into a coherent media strategy. Political claims and grievances are convincingly backed up by quasi-journalistic evidence, whereas theological arguments are complemented by legal references to the Quran and Sunna. Jihadi propaganda informs its audience about doctrines and strategies concerning how to use force in order to defend Islam against its perceived three existential threats – the global conflict, Arab despotism, and secular governance. Theological and strategic considerations converge in al-Qaeda’s rationale for violence.


The Max Planck Society awarded Dr. Andreas Armborst the Otto Hahn Medal for his doctoral dissertation "Jihadi Violence – A study of al-Qaeda's media."



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Latest Publication

National Criminal Law in a Comparative Legal Context

Vol. 1.3: Introduction to National Systems
China, Japan, Poland, Turkey

Ulrich Sieber / Konstanze Jarvers / Emily Silverman (eds.)

297 pages, Berlin 2014.


This publication is part of the International Max Planck Information System for Comparative Criminal Law, a project at the heart of the Institute’s comparative legal research. One of the project’s primary objectives is to develop a universal meta-structure of criminal law that can serve as the basis for the organization of material, enable systematic comparisons, and further the development of an international criminal law doctrine. This meta-structure is also a prerequisite for analyzing the various approaches taken around the world to shared criminal law-related problems, identifying general legal principles, and drafting international model codes. A second goal of the project is to provide access to data from the participating legal systems in the form of country reports organized on the basis of the aforementioned universal meta-structure. This volume contains country reports from China, Japan, Poland, and Turkey.


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  • Last update: 07 July 2014
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