Radical Rambos: Analysing the motives behind Australia’s teenage supporters of Daesh

Miss Margarita Dimaksyan1
1Federation University, , Australia

In Australia there have been dozens of arrests and charges laid against people who have committed terrorism offences, including individuals already sentenced and others awaiting trials. Increasingly exploited by terrorist organisations is a version of hegemonic masculinity, whereby fighters are promised respect and heroism amongst their peers by way of enacting typically masculine traits such as violence, dominance and risk taking behaviours. For disenfranchised young men, such an opportunity to be celebrated as a hero may be a particularly empowering motive.

This paper examines a number of young Australians who have been convicted of terrorism offences in recent years, focusing on the role Westernised masculine tropes play in the identity construction of those convicted of terrorist offences within Australia. This paper argues that these young men increasingly embody hyper masculine and ultra-violent norms, evidenced through their discussions of their planned attacks with language inspired by violent action movies and video games. The air of machismo is reminiscent of pop culture figures such as John Rambo, demonstrating that Westernised ideals of masculinity are persistent and adaptable to Islamist ideologies. This paper will use evidence presented at trial to examine the congruence between planned terrorist action strategies and the narrative arc of first-person-shooter video games and violent action movies. Understanding how Western discourses of masculinity influence radicalised individuals is important to understanding the context of radicalisation and terrorism in Australia.


Margarita is a PhD candidate at Federation University Australia. Her research on radicalisation and terrorism in an Australian context is centered on an analysis of 180 Australian residents or citizens who were radicalised or involved in terrorism between 2001 and 2016. This paper will examine a number of cases from the wider sample of 180 individuals.


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