Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Awad Halabi (Committee Member), Donna Schalgheck (Committee Member), Vaughn Shannon (Advisor)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Literature on terrorist efforts to win over hearts and minds discusses several influential factors: the politics of the organization, the relationship of the organization to the public, levels of violence, provocation of counterterror responses, and the use of various forms of propaganda. It is my contention that mass media propaganda, which reaches the widest audience, is most influential in the battle for hearts and minds. Al Qaeda has exploited this tool to sustain support.

In spite of this, Arab Public Opinion Surveys show a decline in support for Al Qaeda's anti-Western goals, and fluctuations in support for its methods. They also indicate a decline, then an increase, and an ultimate falloff in overall support for the organization. I would like to determine what is responsible for these changes? Do media propaganda efforts influence Arab-Muslim public opinion, or is something else creating these changes year by year?

The answers to this question may be applicable to other terror organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah. However, these are terror organizations operating on a national rather than transnational scale. Al Qaeda is unique in its transnational scope, but this does not mean that what works on a larger scale would not apply to a smaller scale and constituency as well. This gives my study the potential for broad generalizability, though every terror organization is unique and what applies to one may not apply to another, be they national or transnational in scope.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Political Science

Year Degree Awarded