Date of Award

Fall 12-1-2020

Degree Type


Committee Chair

Dr. John Meyer

Committee Chair School



This dissertation examines the rhetoric used by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to persuade thousands of young Muslims around the world to join the organization and defend it until the end. The dissertation concerns the innovative methods used by the organization to reach thousands of young people around the world, and the role of misinterpretations of the Qur'an in supporting al-Baghdadi's rhetorical arguments. In order to provide a reasonable explanation for these speeches, the dissertation used Aristotle's rhetorical methodology, Gamal Abdel Nasser's rhetorical concept, Burke's concept of identity and social identity theory. The arguments focused on studying rhetoric within the Isis organization, particularly the rhetorical methods of al-Baghdadi, and analyzing the persuasive elements in the extremist discourse. Four speeches of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi were selected for analysis. The dissertation included (1) investigating the gap in interpretations of the Qur’an that extremists exploit to persuade Muslim youth; (2) examining Al-Baghdadi's rhetorical methods and the slogans he used in his speeches; and (3) shedding light on extreme appeals to identity problematic in the Islamic world and the Middle East in particular.