Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sarah Cook

Second Advisor

Anthony Lemieux

Third Advisor

Kevin Swartout


Terrorism represents a national security threat to most countries. Recent research has demonstrated the ability to determine when groups are most prone to engage in violence through textual analysis. Using the Information, Motivation, Behavioral Skills (IMB) Framework and McClelland’s Three Needs Theory of human behavior, we compared implicit motivation as expressed through textual online propaganda of three jihadist groups. This model posits that all people are driven by three primary implicit motivations: affiliation, achievement, and power. This study analyzed 58 magazine issues (Inspire, Dabiq/Rumiyah, Gaidi Mtaani) from three extremist Arabic-speaking groups (Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, Islamic State, and Al Shabaab) with a history of violent attacks to measure and compare implicit motivations between groups. Findings show that overall, each group had a distinctive motivational linguistic signature and there is a predictable pattern of implicit power motivation and time-to-attack across all three groups.