The September 11th 2001 Attacks
This chapter begins the empirical investigation and focuses on the representations that emerged in the aftermath of the September 11th 2001 attacks. Centring on two weeks’ worth of BBC ‘News at Ten’ bulletins (September 11th–24th 2001), the chapter shows how, in the absence of any stable ontological or epistemological frameworks of knowledge, the BBC’s representations function as a dynamic and continually shifting site upon which a range of fears, identities, discourses and forms of knowledge and power manifest themselves. Three shifting modes of representation are identified within the analysis (the ‘Islamic’ mode, the ‘Personalised’ mode and the ‘Elusive’ mode) which each give rise to a different understanding of ‘al-Qaeda’. Specifically, the chapter argues that rather than simply serve as a vehicle for Orientalist-inspired discourses the BBC’s representations both draw upon and challenge the dominant discourses surrounding Islam, non-state terrorism, and the identities of al-Qaeda suspects, providing audiences with a variety of, often conflicting, ways of seeing and speaking about this entity.