The neojihadist cell as a religious organization: A Melbourne Jema’ah case study

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Notwithstanding significant macro-level research! into neojihadist groups like al-Qaeda and DAISh, and their theology/ideology and tactics, there is significantly less information on micro-level actors, especially how they; function as religious organizations. Drawing on rare (terrorism trial transcripts) and unique (listening device and telephone intercept transcripts of recorded terrorists’ conversations) primary source materials, this article examines how religious authority structures and agency structures functioned within a Melbourne jema’ah (group or cell) that Australian authorities disrupted in 2004-2005. The article argues that the jema’ah was a stable vehicle for transmitting religious authority on how to conduct a theologically sanctioned attack. Through initiation and other means the jema’ah’s leader controlled access to spiritual compensators, including the opportunity to die as martyrs. These attributes and processes correspond to what the sociology of religion has identified as the functions of and interactions within religious organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-51
Number of pages30
JournalJournal for the Academic Study of Religion
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Neojihadism
  • Operation Pendennis
  • Religious leadership
  • Religious organisations
  • Terrorism in Australia

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