Leadership, terrorism, and the use of violence

Margaret G. Hermann, Azamat Sakiev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Can we use what leaders of terrorist organizations say to help us understand what they are like, their leadership styles, and when they are likely to use violence to gain what they want? In this study, we examine the words of the leaders of al Qa'ida Central (AQ-C) and al Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) using Leadership Trait Analysis, an assessment-at-a-distance technique developed to provide answers to this type of question. Comparing the scores of the AQ-C and AQAP leaders to those of 23 leaders of other terrorist groups, we determine what the al Qa'ida leaders are like. We also ascertain how the rhetoric of these leaders changes as they decide to engage in violence as well as in the frames they choose to use toward different audiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-134
Number of pages9
JournalDynamics of Asymmetric Conflict: Pathways toward Terrorism and Genocide
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2011


  • Al Qa'ida Central
  • Al Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula
  • Leadership Trait Analysis
  • Leadership style
  • Terrorism
  • Terrorist leader
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Law


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