The Spread of its Message: Studying the Prominence of al-Qaida Materials in UK Terrorism Investigations

Al-Qaida emphasises its ability to communicate its core message to those who might be sympathetic towards the group and its aims. Yet we have little sense of how this relationship, between al-Qaida as messenger, and potential sympathisers as message recipients, unfolds, especially in the West. To shed light on this question, this article analyses evidential materials from police counterterrorism investigations in the UK, exploring the way and extent to which al-Qaida-related materials have featured. The analysis identifies al-Qaida as one of the more prominent groups responsible for content found in these investigations but emphasises the overall heterogeneity of the extremist Islamist media content that has been discovered. The analysis also illustrates the importance of English-language content for this particular audience and the ability of prominent ideologies, especially Anwar al-Awlaki, to retain popularity and influence beyond his grave.

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