Moign Khawaja | School of Law and Government

Moign Khawaja 

Moinuddin (Moign) Khawaja is a PhD research student at the School of Law and Government, DCU. Moign has a background in international relations, world conflicts and journalism and has been a keen observer of Middle Eastern affairs since last two decades. He has worked as a multimedia journalist in the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and Sultanate of Oman. 


MA Journalism - University of Lincoln (2008)

Supervisor: Prof. Maura Conway


Thesis Abstract:

The ‘Islamicness’ (or not) of so-called ‘Islamic State’ (IS) has been widely analysed. This thesis investigates the under-studied other side of the equation: the ‘stateness of Islamic State. Specifically, it enquires into IS’s projection of stateness in 374 of its official videos. Two core questions are addressed: How did IS perform stateness in its videos? And what were the purposes of this projection? 

The definition clause of the 1933 Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States specifies that “[t]he political entity claiming to be a State must have (a) a permanent population; (b) a defined territory; (c) a government; and (d) the capacity to enter into relations with other states.” Utilising qualitative data analysis software MAXQDA, the thesis’s four case studies examine the Caliphate’s portrayal of its population, territory, governance, and foreign policy in its videos. The thesis establishes that IS had a vision to implement a 7th century ideology, but via 21st century means: its videos are replete with performances of specifically modern stateness. In addition, the thesis shows that IS performed like a state in its videos, not with the intention of seeking international recognition, but with the objective of attracting Muslims from around the globe for this state-building project. It also argues that it takes more than mere performance of stateness by a de-facto state to become a state. 

Finally, by detailed analysis of a large tranche of official IS videos, this work contributes to a growing body of research on IS’s visual propaganda and statehood, and also future research on de-facto jihadi states.

Areas of Interest: Counter-terrorism, Foreign Policy, Propaganda, Radicalisation, Recruitment, Internet, Social Media, Violent Extremism, Visual Communications, Security Studies.

Teaching: Taught following modules to undergrads: Conflict Peace & Security (LG233); Intelligence, National Security & Foreign Policy (LG244); Chinese Politics & Foreign Policy (LG392); Contemporary Politics of the Middle East & North Africa (LG320); Political Ideologies (LG359); Political Terrorism (LG343); Introduction to European Integration (LG104); Introduction to US History & Politics (LG113); and International Political Economy (LG125).

Received nomination for the DCU President's Awards for Excellence in Teaching 2021.

Taught the following modules to cadets of Irish Naval Service: Contemporary Security (2021); Maritime Security in the Middle East (2019-2020).


Conway, M., Khawaja, M., Lakhani, S. and Reffin, J., 2020. A Snapshot of the Syrian Jihadi Online Ecology: Differential Disruption, Community Strength, and Preferred Other Platforms. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, pp.1-17.  

Conway, M., Khawaja, M., Lakhani, S., Reffin, J., Robertson, A. and Weir, D., 2018. Disrupting Daesh: Measuring Takedown of Online Terrorist Material and its Impacts. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, pp.1-20.

Maura Conway, Moign Khawaja, Suraj Lakhani, Jeremy Reffin, Andrew Robertson, and David Weir. "Disrupting Daesh: Measuring Takedown of Online Terrorist Material and its Impacts." VOX-Pol (2017): 1-45. 

- Under review: “#ISIS Twitter Fans’ Visual Narratives – Contextualising Profile Pictures”.


Terrorism and Social Media (TASM) Conference; 25-26 June 2019 in Swansea, Wales.

Presented paper based on my methodology chapter entitled “Determining the 'Stateness' of Islamic State According to their Video Propaganda”.

EUROPOL-European Counter-Terrorism Centre (ECTC) Advisory Network Conference, 9-10 April, 2019 in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Co-presented with Prof. Maura Conway paper entitled “Extremist Twitter Fans’ Visual Narratives: Contextualising #ISIS Supporters’ Profile Pictures”

VOX-Pol Conference – Violent Extremism, Terrorism, And The Internet: Present And Future Trends; 20-21, August 2018 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Co-presented with Prof. Maura Conway (DCU) and Dr. Suraj Lakhani (Uni. of Sussex) paper entitled “Mapping the Contemporary Jihadi Online Ecology: Differential Disruption, Community Strength, Out-linking Practices, and Preferred Online Platforms”in which we analysed and compared the activities of Hayyat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS), Ahrar Al Sham and Taliban accounts on Twitter

Terrorism And Social Media (TASM) Conference, hosted by CyberTerror Project (CTP) at Swansea University in June 2017 in Swansea, Wales.

Co-presented paper entitled “Disrupting Daesh: Measuring Takedown of Online Terrorist Material and its Impacts”. 

VOX-Pol’s Mid-Project Conference; 22-24 June, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland.

Co-presented with Prof. Maura Conway (DCU) paper entitled "#ISIS Twitter Fans’ Visual Narratives – Contextualising Profile Pictures".

Guest Lectures:

Presented guest lecture entitled "Islamic State's Visual Projection of Modern Stateness via Videos" at DCU Computer Sciences & other departments on 29 March, 2021.

Presented guest lecture entitled "ISIS & Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)" to International Master in Security, Intelligence and Strategic Studies (IMSISS) students on 25 February, 2021.

Presented guest lecture entitled “Islamism”at DCU to BA Economics, Politics & Law students on 28 & 29 March, 2019.

Presented guest lecture entitled “Projection of Statehood by the Islamic State”at DCU to MA Security Studies students on 22 March, 2019.

Presented guest lecture entitled “Maritime Security & Middle East” at Maynooth University to Irish Naval College cadets on 14 & 21 January, 2019.

Presented guest lecture entitled “Terrorism & ISIS”at Dublin City University (DCU) to MA International Relations students on 30 October, 2018.

Presented guest lecture entitled “Totalitarianism”at DCU to BA Economics, Politics & Law students on 24 October, 2018.

Summer Schools and Workshops:

VOX-Pol Summer School: Topics in Violent Online Political Extremism. Organised by Central European University (CEU) in Budapest, Hungary from 4-9 July, 2016.

NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Terrorist Use of the Internet – Assessment and Response. Organised by Swansea University’s Cyberterrorism Project and VOX-Pol in Dublin, Ireland from 27-29 June, 2016.

Method52 Text Analytics Software Training Programme. Organised by the Department of Computing at the University of Sussex, Brighton, England, from 18-25 July, 2016.


Presented a video I made based on my PhD research entitled "Was the Islamic State a State?" and won the runners-up prize at DCU Tell it Straight 2019 competition held on 27 March, 2019.

Email Address:;

Twitter: @MoignKhawaja

Personal Interests: Travelling, Football, Cooking, Movies.