Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Middle East Studies

Reader 1

Heather Ferguson

Reader 2

Hicham bou Nassif

Rights Information

2021 Renee E. Perper


For the past twenty years, the United States has been at war. Yet, while invocations of war often evoke images of soldiers on the battlefield, the war the U.S. has been fighting looks far different. In the past two decades, the U.S. has attempted to curb the impact of terrorist organizations’ media usage. This paper explores the genealogy of that media battle through a case study of al-Qaeda and ISIS’ media apparatuses. It argues that, often overlooked, is the role that media plays as a foundational element in both groups’ organizational structures. Moreover, this paper will demonstrate how ISIS has expounded on the success of al-Qaeda’s media strategy, thereby creating an online caliphate. Ultimately, this paper will conclude that new strategies and ways of thinking about the war on terror will need to be developed in for the U.S. to effectively combat both al-Qaeda and ISIS’ media.