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STRATEGIES USED BY ALSHABAAB ON TWITTER TO CONTEST MAINSTREAM MEDIA REPORTAGE DURING WESTGATE MALL ATTACK IN KENYA

Abstract

The terror groups such as Alshabab have not succeeded in their use of Mainstream media to communicate their narratives thus; they rely on the alternative media. On 21st of September 2013, Kenya recorded the deadliest terrorist incident at Westgate Mall since 1998 bombing of US Embassy in Nairobi. Alshabab, a Somalia based terrorist group through twitter claimed responsibility for the horrific attack. Alshabab used twitter to counter narratives they termed as distorted coverage by Western sponsored media houses. For Alshabab, the use of twitter was as important as the attack itself. Twitter was not only acting as a medium to take responsibility of the attack, but as tool to wage and win a global media battle. The extent of Alshabab’s use of twitter triggered the researcher to examine the role of media narratives in the fight against terror. The main objective was to examine the alternative media narrative and the reportage on Alshabab during Westgate mall attack in Kenya. The study analysed strategies used by Alshabab on twitter during Westgate Mall attack. The study used descriptive research design. The data was analysed qualitatively through thematic coding and interpretation. Data analysis was carried out in stages using content analysis, in which the narratives were analysed for themes, language strategies and frames. The findings of the study revealed that Alshabab used various strategies, which included taking responsibility of the attack, binary opposition as justification, posed as organized media for the update and placing demand and self-dialogue in their coverage.  The study contributes literature to the research done on terror groups and their internet use in Kenya and the world in general.