This paper examines methodology in Terrorism Studies, specifically claims that excessive attention being paid to terrorists' messages (their discourse) instead of to their target audiences has contributed to stagnation in this field. To do so, the paper first clarifies what a discourse analytic approach entails, differentiating it from the language-based content analytic approaches largely followed in Terrorism Studies to date. It then illustrates the potential value of such an approach by both explaining the methodology and reporting the key results of a Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies piece of research into (de)legitimation in the online jihadist magazines Dabiq and Inspire. This research focused on the notion of the West and on terms used to designate Islam ‘non-believers’ in those magazines. The results revealed some similarities but also significant differences in the ways in which Inspire and Dabiq discursively ‘other’ the West by attacking different aspects of its ‘public image’. They also revealed notable differences regarding the discursive means via which they legitimate such othering with regard to individuals and groups that they pejoratively refer to as ‘kuffar’ (disbelievers) and ‘murtaddin’ (apostates).
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