University of Leicester
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A Framing Analysis of the United States Government Counter-Terrorism Messaging Strategies During the Rise and Fall of ISIS

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posted on 2024-06-07, 12:40 authored by Abdullatif A. Omar

This thesis is concerned with examining the United States government's counter-terrorism messaging strategies by focusing specifically on its counter-ISIS messaging operations. Drawing on framing as the theoretical framework and qualitative method of research for this thesis, the objectives of this study are, firstly, investigating the U.S. government's online strategic communication response to the overwhelming surge in ISIS messaging on social media platforms following the announcement of their Islamic Caliphate in Iraq and Syria. Secondly, provide understanding and recommendations for the U.S. government's counter-terrorism messaging on social media platforms and elsewhere, and contribute to discussing ways to improve the effectiveness of the U.S. government's responses to hostile online strategic communication messaging campaigns. This study contributed to the body of knowledge by investigating how the U.S. government engaged with the terrorist organization during its messaging battle on the social media platform X, previously known as Twitter. The thesis uncovered the messaging themes deployed by the U.S. government to counter-ISIS messaging. The study primarily focused on mid-2014 during the rise of ISIS and late-2017 during the fall of the terrorist organization. Additionally, this study revealed the challenges and internal processes faced by the U.S. government during its counter-terrorism messaging battle with ISIS. The government bureaucracy created a significant burden for the U.S. government's counter-messaging operation. Furthermore, this study provided insight into the methods used by the U.S. government to evaluate the effectiveness of its counter-messaging campaigns against the terrorist organization. It highlighted how the U.S. government lacked a clear methodology on how to assess the effectiveness of its messaging. In addition, it is important to note that the findings of this research and its contributions have been made possible primarily through exclusive access to experts who work in support of the U.S. government's counter-messaging operations at the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Defense.



Ian Somerville; Bernhard Forchtner

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Media, Communication, and Sociology

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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