Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Larry D. Anthony


Jihadist Terrorism, Social Media, Radicalization. Recruitment, Countering Violent Extremism, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Social Identity Theory (SIT), Social Structure and Learning Theory (SSSL)


Arts and Humanities


The purpose of this case study was to understand the role social media plays in the expansion of jihadist terrorism in the United States for sixteen participants at the sites: the Mary Lynch building in Columbia, Maryland, and a Club House conference room in Hanover, Maryland. The theories that guided this study were Social Structure and Social Learning Theory (SSSL) and Social Identity Theory (SIT). Jihadist terrorism has a symbiotic relationship with the tenets of Social Structure and Social Learning Theory, which postulates that criminal behaviors are learned through social interactions. Danielle and Klein (2018) contended that Aker’s Social Structure and Learning Theory focused on integrating both micro and macro approaches (Danielle & Klein, 2018). This integration illustrated some fundamental variables which suggested that a learning process contributes to crime and deviant behaviors. Felty (2019) emphasized that Social Identity Theory rests on the assumption that individualities are socially constructed. This process facilitates the creation of self-worth and, most importantly, an identity based on group association (Felty, 2019). This framework was appropriate in exploring jihadist terrorism and social media as the phenomena’s core principles illustrated a correlation among group association, individual identity, and behaviors. Semi-structured interviews were the primary data collection source. Scholarly articles, government websites, and textbooks were used as secondary sources. Colaizzi’s (1978) seven-step data analysis method and the ATLAS.ti website were the data analysis methods employed in the study.