conflict & communication online, Vol. 14, No. 2, 2015
ISSN 1618-0747




Liane Rothenberger & Kathrin Müller
Categorizing terrorist entities listed by the European Union according to terrorist groups’ underlying motives

States and international organizations have compiled lists of a great variety of terrorist groups. The current European Union list includes 44 entities. This study analyzes the underlying motives of the terrorist organizations named in this list. In order to understand the groups’ motivations and consequently be able to advise on methods of countering them with communication strategies, we employ a three-item typology provided by Waldmann (2001). The results show that only five of the 44 groups were religiously motivated to commit terrorism. Most of the groups (n=20) had nationalist-separatist motives, and 19 groups displayed social-revolutionary motives. Based on the respective motives, differing counter-terrorism strategies are proposed, e.g., developing rhetorical counter-narratives that address and reduce the groups’ motivational and identity-generating characteristics.


  englischer Volltext  

The authors:

Liane Rothenberger, Dr. phil., born in 1981, studied journalism at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. In 2008, she received her PhD for a program analysis of the French German Culture TV Channel “arte”. Since 2008, she works as a senior researcher and lecturer at Technische Universität Ilmenau. Her main research areas include terrorism as communication, crisis communication, international and intercultural communication as well as journalism studies.
Address: Technische Universität Ilmenau, Institute of Media and Communication Science, Ehrenbergstr. 29, 98693 Ilmenau, Germany.
eMail:, Website:

Kathrin Müller, M.A., born in 1987, studied Culture and Media Education at Merseburg University of Applied Sciences, followed by the study of Media and Communication Science at Ilmenau University of Technology. She graduated in 2014 with her master thesis about the influence of war blogs on professional war reporting in Germany. During her studies Kathrin Müller worked as a media educator as well as a freelancer for print and online media. Her main research areas are terrorism as communication, (war) journalism and war blogs.
Addresss: Technische Universität Ilmenau, Institute of Media and Communication Science, Ehrenbergstr. 29, 98693 Ilmenau, Germany