'The Movement Remains,' Two Scholars Address the Future of Jihadi Culture

Thomas Hegghammer, Cole Bunzel, and Noah Rauch, senior vice president of education and public programs, sit onstage during a public program at the Museum auditorium.
Thomas Hegghammer, Cole Bunzel and Noah Rauch in conversation at the 9/11 Memorial Museum on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017. Photo by Monika Graff.

Speaking at the 9/11 Memorial Museum on Thursday, Nov. 30, Thomas Hegghammer and Cole Bunzel, two scholars of jihadi culture, discussed how terrorist groups like ISIS recruit and create shared values among their supporters.

“Organizations come and go, leaders, not least, come and go, but the movement remains, and I think one of the reasons is the culture,” Hegghammer, senior research fellow at the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, told Noah Rauch, senior vice president for education and public programs at the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. “Culture is the glue that binds these actors together and that keeps it alive, and it’s very hard to kill a culture. So that’s why I think we’re, unfortunately, stuck with this problem for many more years to come."

In the video clip below, Cole Bunzel, scholar of jihadi ideology at Princeton University, explains that ISIS’s diminishing control in the Middle East does not necessarily signal a weakening of the broader jihadi movement.

“So you see this great division right now going on in Syria. You see the jihadis having difficulty in Iraq and Syria in the Islamic State,” said Bunzel. “But at the same time, the broader jihadi movement as we understand it does not seem to be suffering. It’s still a movement that seems to be rather strong.”

To watch the program in full, please visit 911memorial.org/live. Find out more about upcoming programs at the 9/11 Memorial Museum here.

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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