PhD Thesis Analysed the Messages of Usāma ibn Lādin


Today, on 20 June, Helen Geršman from the Tallinn University School of Humanities will defend her doctoral thesis, which studies the written and spoken messages of the Saudi Arabian born Usāma ibn Lādin.

The thesis analyses his messages from a rhetorical viewpoint – one that has thus far not been researched. “This method has been extensively used in bible studies, but it is relatively novel in the context of Arabian texts,” Geršman explained. The thesis features two main chapters. The first focuses on the life and ideology of Usāma ibn Lādin, the second focuses on his messages.

His ideology is segmented in the thesis according to three major themes: the Islamic State, the enemy, and the ǧihād. “The main motivation behind his messages is to convince the Islamic community in the necessity and legality of individual jihadism,” Geršman explained.

“The practical value of this thesis lies in cataloguing the messages of ibn Lādin, and the full translation of three of his texts. These examples have helped immensely in the rhetorical analysis – to understand that the influence of ibn Lādin’s messages among the speakers of Arabic does not necessarily come from shared viewpoints, but rather through a common Arabic rhetoric,” she added.

The thesis “From Terrorist Leader to Voice of Ǧihād. A Rhetorical Analysis of Usāma ibn Lādin's Messages” will be defended on 20 June at 11:00 at Tallinn University room M-648 (Uus-Sadama 5). The supervisor is Professor Otto Jastrow from Tallinn University. The opponents are Associate Professor Frank Weigelt of Bergen University, and Professor Michael Lecher from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

You can read the entire thesis via the Tallinn University Academic Library e-vault ETERA.