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Research in Focus

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

Compliance Programs for the Prevention of Economic Crimes

An Empirical Survey of German Companies

Ulrich Sieber/Marc Engelhart

312 pages, Berlin 2014.


Changes in today’s global risk and information society create new challenges for criminal law and criminal policy, particularly with respect to complex crimes such as white-collar crime, organized crime, and terrorism. These changes have pushed traditional criminal law to its territorial and functional limits and require alternative forms of social control. This can be seen especially with respect to the global threats to economic markets caused by new forms of corporate crime in the 21st century. In this field States are increasingly compensating their loss of control in the prevention and prosecution of crime by requiring private persons and companies to cooperate in crime prevention, especially through the use of compliance measures as a form of “regulated self-regulation.” The current draft of a new law on corporate criminal liability in Germany takes this approach. Until now, however, progress in this area has been impeded by a lack of sound empirical data.
The present book fills this gap. It is the first publication that, on the basis of a broad, scientifically based empirical study, not only analyzes the existence, content, and effectiveness of German compliance programs but also addresses the effectiveness of various strategies in preventing crime and fostering the implementation of compliance programs.


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  • Last update: 15 September 2014
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