Library

Welcome to VOX-Pol’s Online Library, a research and teaching resource, which collects in one place a large volume of publications related to various aspects of violent online political extremism.

Our searchable database contains material in a variety of different formats including downloadable PDFs, videos, and audio files comprising e-books, book chapters, journal articles, research reports, policy documents and reports, and theses.

All open access material collected in the Library is easy to download. Where the publications are only accessible through subscription, the Library will take you to the publisher’s page from where you can access the material.

We will continue to add more material as it becomes available with the aim of making it the most comprehensive online Library in this field.

If you have any material you think belongs in the Library—whether your own or another authors—please contact us at onlinelibrary@voxpol.eu and we will consider adding it to the Library. It is also our aim to make the Library a truly inclusive multilingual facility and we thus welcome contributions in all languages.

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TitleYearAuthorTypeLinks
Livestreaming the ‘wretched of the Earth’: The Christchurch massacre and the ‘death-bound subject’
2020 Ibrahim, Y. Article
The livestreaming of terror, its co-production through live consumption and the massacre of lives as ‘entertainment’ propelled us into another long abyss of ethical challenges in the case of the xenophobic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. Livestreaming, as part of the convergence of technologies, enables narration in ‘real’ time, dragging us into a new ‘banalisation of evil’ where terror and torture can be co-produced by inviting audiences to consume through the vantage point of the perpetrator. This article examines the Muslim ‘body’ through JanMohamed’s notion of the ‘death-bound subject’ where the continual threat of death foreshadows the Muslim body, imbricating it within a political and ideological archaeology wherein both its possibility of death and the performance of death enter into a realm of theatrics of production incumbent upon invoking new moralities around consumption and its residues as a screen image. The ‘wretched of the Earth’ and their residues as immaterial matter online as the ‘wretched of the screen’ connote a new architecture of violence conjoining the temporalities of liveness with the sharing features of ‘semiotic capitalism’.
Shifts in the Visual Media Campaigns of AQAP and ISIS After High Death and High Publicity Attacks
2020 Winkler, C., McMinimy, K., El-Damanhoury, K. and Almahmoud, M. Article
Extreme militant groups use their media campaigns to share information, recruit and radicalize followers, share worldviews, and seek public diplomacy ends. While previous research documents that various on-the-ground events correspond to changes in the groups’ messaging strategies, studies of how competing militant groups influence one another’s media campaigns are nascent. This study helps fill that gap by examining how successful attacks by one militant group correspond to changes in both the perpetrating and competing groups’ visual media messaging strategies. It examines attack success through the lens of violent acts that result in direct impact (measured through death counts) and indirect impact (measured through traditional media coverage levels). The study utilizes a content analysis of 1882 authority-related images in AQAP’s al-Masra newsletter and ISIS’s al-Naba’ newsletter appearing three issues before and after each attack, and a chi-square analysis comparing four ISIS attack conditions (high death/high media, high death/low media, low death/high media, and low death/low media). The findings show that a high number of resulting deaths, rather than a high level of media coverage, correspond to changes in the media campaigns of both the perpetrators and the competing groups, with key differences in visual content based on group identity.
The Lure of (Violent) Extremism: Gender Constructs in Online Recruitment and Messaging in Indonesia
2020 Johnston, M.F. Article
The gender dimension of violent extremism is under-studied; and “women terrorists” are stereotyped as either men’s dupes or (internet) warriors. Applying a gender lens, this study uses content analysis to examine Islamist extremist websites in Indonesia. Analysis reveals distinct recruitment language targeted at women and men, and rigid gender segregation of content and spaces. Extremists co-opt the language of women’s rights while also promoting gender-discriminatory harmful practices with the intent of establishing what they consider to be a more devout Islamic state. Gender analysis of online extremism has implications for strategies to counter and prevent radicalization to violence.
Wie Extrem ist die Rechte in Europa? Untersuchung von Überschneidungen in der deutschen Rechtsaußenszene auf Twitter
2020 Ahmed, R. and Pisoiu, D. VOX-Pol Publication
Ziel dieser Arbeit ist es, die Überschneidungen in der Rechtsaußenszene auf Twitter zu ermitteln und insbesondere festzustellen, inwieweit verschiedene Gruppen in der Szene tatsächlich auf die gleiche Weise über dieselben Themen sprechen, trotz offensichtlicher Unterschiede im Tonfall und den zugrunde liegenden Ideologien. Wir verwenden einen Mischmethodenansatz: Zunächst wollen wir einen oberflächlichen Einblick in die extrem rechte Szene auf Twitter in ganz Europa gewinnen, und dann führen wir bei drei ausgewählten Gruppen in Deutschland eine detaillierte Frame-Analyse aus, um die impliziten und expliziten Überschneidungen zwischen ihnen zu bestimmen und so die quantitativen Angaben zu ergänzen, damit die Bedeutung detailliert analysiert werden kann.
Analyzing predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors of militancy through declassified interrogation summaries: A case study
2020 Aggarwal, N.K. Article
Researchers and policymakers have supported a public health approach to countering violent extremism throughout the War on Terror. However, barriers to obtaining primary data include concerns from minority groups about stigmatization, the ethics of harming research subjects by exposing them to violent content, and restrictions on researchers from institutions and governments. Textual analyses of declassified documents from government agencies may overcome these barriers. This article contributes a method for analyzing the predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors of terrorism through open source texts. This method is applied to FBI interrogation summaries of Al Qaeda terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted an attack aboard an airplane in 2009. This analysis shows that consuming militant content online led him to narrow his social relationships offline to extremists and foster identifications with subjugated Muslims around the world. After deciding to wage militancy, loyalty to Al Qaeda members, swearing allegiance to and obeying group leaders, and interpreting religious texts militantly perpetuated violent activities. Such work can advance empirical work on militant behavior to develop interventions.
Online Extremism
2020 The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology Report
The internet can leave users vulnerable to social challenges, which creates opportunities for extremism to spread. Users can be exposed to extremism in multiple ways, including through recruitment and socialisation. Extremist content may be found on mainstream social media sites and ‘alt-tech’ platforms, which replicate the functions of mainstream social media but have been created or co-opted for the unconventional needs of specific users. Automatic detection can be used to moderate extremist content on a large scale. However, this is prone to false positives and may disproportionately impact a particular group, which can fuel mistrust in the state. Many stakeholders believe that current counter-extremism responses are too focused on law and technology, and do not address the underlying reasons that people are drawn to extremist content. Individual and societal interventions aim to identify underlying socio-economic and cultural contributors and implement protective factors to reduce how many people develop extremist views.
It's a Man's World: Carnal Spectatorship and Dissonant Masculinities in Islamic State Videos
2020 Crone, M. Article
Islamic State videos have often been associated with savage violence and beheadings. An in-depth scrutiny however reveals another striking feature: that female bodies are absent, blurred or mute. Examining a few Islamic State videos in depth, the article suggests that the invisibility of women in tandem with the ostentatious visibility of male bodies enable gendered and embodied spectators to indulge in homoerotic as well as heterosexual imaginaries. In contrast to studies on visual security and online radicalization which assert that images affect an audience, this article focuses on the interaction between video and audience and argues that spectators are not only rational and emotional but embodied and gendered as well. Islamic State videos do not only attract western foreign fighters through religious–ideological rhetoric or emotional impact but also through gendered forms of pleasure and desire that enable carnal imagination and identification. The article probes the analytical purchase of carnal aesthetics and spectatorship.
This is Not a Game: How Steam Harbors Extremists
2020 Anti-Defamation League Report
Steam, the largest and most important online store for PC gamers with over $4 Billion in revenue in 2017, has recently gained popularity among white supremacists for being a platform, like Gab and Telegram, where they can openly express their ideology and calls for violence. The difference between Steam and social media platforms like Telegram or Gab is that while the latter do not share a formal business relationship with the wider social media industry, Steam has direct and lucrative relationships with most major game companies, including 2K, Electronic Arts, Xbox Game Studios, Ubisoft and others. Many of these game companies have made public statements about and dedicated significant resources towards keeping their products safe from the kinds of hateful ideologies espoused by extremists -- while continuing to work with Steam.
Countering Terrorist Narratives Online and Offline
2020 United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate Report
The present Analytical Brief was prepared by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in accordance with Security Council resolution 2395 (2017), which directs CTED to conduct analytical work on emerging issues, trends and developments and to make its analytical products available throughout the United Nations system.

Terrorist groups have always sought to radicalize others (especially young people) to violence. However, over the past decade, their propaganda and radicalization efforts have occurred at greater speed and with a bigger range, a process facilitated by the fastest, broadest expansion of mass communications in human history. As a consequence, Member States have been forced to expand their efforts to combat terrorist communications beyond merely blocking or removing online terrorist propaganda and have increasingly emphasized countering terrorist narratives. In May 2017, the Security Council adopted its resolution 2354 (2017), which welcomed the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s “Comprehensive International Framework to Counter Terrorist Narratives.” In accordance with the Framework, Member States and other stakeholders should not only emphasize terrorists’ inhumanity and the flaws in their arguments, but also develop positive or alternative narratives that promote a holistic worldview and encourage non-violent pathways to address grievances and feelings of powerlessness and alienation.
Exploring Radical Right-Wing Posting Behaviors Online
2020 Scrivens, R. VOX-Pol Publication
In recent years, researchers have shown a vested interest in developing advanced information technologies, machine-learning algorithms, and risk-assessment tools to detect and analyze radical content online, with increased attention on identifying violent extremists or measuring digital pathways of violent radicalization. Yet overlooked in this evolving space has been a systematic examination of what constitutes radical posting behaviors in general. This study uses a sentiment analysis-based algorithm that adapts criminal career measures – and is guided by communication research on social influence – to develop and describe three radical posting behaviors (high-intensity, high-frequency, and high-duration) found on a sub-forum of the most conspicuous right-wing extremist forum. The results highlight the multi-dimensional nature of radical right-wing posting behaviors, many of which may inform future risk factor frameworks used by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to identify credible threats online.
Towards the “olive trees of Rome”: exploitation of propaganda devices in the Islamic State’s flagship magazine “Rumiyah”
2020 Lakomy, M. Article
This paper aims to contribute to understanding how the last flagship magazine of the Islamic State - “Rumiyah” - attempted to influence and manipulate Internet users. Its primary objective is to analyze the propaganda methods exploited in all thirteen issues of this magazine. In order to do so this paper utilises content analysis to investigate “propaganda devices”, a concept developed by the American Institute for Propaganda Analysis. It argues that there were four predominant groups of propaganda devices exploited in this magazine. Two of them, i.e. name-calling and glittering generalities, were utilized to create and promote an artificial, black-and-white vision of the world, composed of the “camp of kufr” (camp of disbelief) and the “camp of iman” (camp of faith), embodied by the Islamic State. The third leading propaganda method, transfer, attempted to legitimize the actions and agenda of the “Caliphate” by using the authority of not only Allah, but also the Prophet Muhammad, his companions (Sahabah), as well as selectively chosen Islamic scholars. Finally, the bandwagon served as a means of creating a sense of community between the editors and readers. Other propaganda devices, such as testimonial or plain folks, played strictly secondary roles in the narration of the magazine.
What is BitChute? Characterizing the “Free Speech” Alternative to YouTube
2020 Trujillo, M., Gruppi, M., Buntain, C. and Horne, B.D. Article
In this paper, we characterize the content and discourse on BitChute, a social video-hosting platform. Launched in 2017 as an alternative to YouTube, BitChute joins an ecosystem of alternative, low content moderation platforms, including Gab, Voat, Minds, and 4chan. Uniquely, BitChute is the first of these alternative platforms to focus on video content and is growing in popularity. Our analysis reveals several key characteristics of the platform. We find that only a handful of channels receive any engagement, and almost all of those channels contain conspiracies or hate speech. This high rate of hate speech on the platform as a whole, much of which is anti-Semitic, is particularly concerning. Our results suggest that BitChute has a higher rate of hate speech than Gab but less than 4chan. Lastly, we find that while some BitChute content producers have been banned from other platforms, many maintain profiles on mainstream social media platforms, particularly YouTube. This paper contributes a first look at the content and discourse on BitChute and provides a building block for future research on low content moderation platforms.
The Shift from Consumers to Prosumers: Susceptibility of Young Adults to Radicalization
2020 Sugihartati, R., Suyanto, B. and Sirry, M. Article
This article examines the radicalization of young adults in relation to internet access and the social media content produced and managed by radical groups in Indonesia. Some of the research problems that become the major concern of this article were how young people respond to the internet and social media that provide radical content, how they find out about and access the content, what their purposes are for accessing radical content, and what they do with the radical content. The data discussed in this article were obtained from surveys and interviews with 700 students from seven state universities in Indonesia who were allegedly exposed to radicalism, according to the National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT). The state universities that became research locations were the University of Indonesia (UI), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Bogor Agriculture University (IPB), Diponegoro University (Undip), the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS), Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), and the University of Brawijaya (UB). This study revealed that in addition to accessing and consuming various radical content, some students also acted as prosumers. That is, they did not only read, but also produced information related to radicalization, and then recirculated it via social media.
Posterboys und Terrorpropaganda
2020 Bötticher, A Chapter
Mit dem Begriff Cybergrooming wird normalerweise die gezielte Ansprache von meist minderjährigen Personen im Internet zum Zweck der Anbahnung sexueller Kontakte bezeichnet. Die Terrorgruppe ISIS hat eine sehr spezielle Form der Propaganda in Kombination mit persönlicher Ansprache junger Frauen und Mädchen entwickelt, die in Kriegs- und Krisengebiete zwecks Verheiratung gelockt werden sollen. So hat ISIS die Kombination aus terroristischer Propaganda und gezielter Ansprache von jungen Frauen und Mädchen perfektioniert und eine eigene Grooming-Systematik entwickelt, die bei propagandaempfänglichen Mädchen den Wunsch nach einer Djihad-Ehe auslöst. Sind die jungen Frauen oder Mädchen erst ausgereist, werden oft ihre Netzwerke aufgegriffen und die „Daheimgebliebenen“ von ihr zur Ausreise aufgefordert. Das vorliegende Kapitel entwickelt aus dem Begriff des Cybergrooming eine theoriegeleitete Form der Beobachtung extremistischen Handelns im Netz und wendet ihn auf den islamistischen Extremismus an, mit Schwerpunkt auf der Rekrutierung von Frauen und Mädchen.
Wie Cyberterrorismus stattfindet - und warum wir ihn nicht sehen
2020 Enghofer, S., Müller, D. and Parrino, A. Chapter
Verschwörungstheorien von im Untergrund herrschenden „Echsenmenschen“ oder einer „flachen Erde“ mögen in den Augen eines aufgeklärten Menschen abwegig und bizarr erscheinen, doch tatsächlich erfahren diese Narrative dank dem Internet erhöhte Beachtung. Schon lange sind Ufos, die „false-flag-Anschläge“ von 9/11 und die gefälschte Mondlandung Teil eines virtuellen Erklärungsangebots an Menschen, die grundsätzliches Misstrauen gegenüber traditionellen Medien oder dem „Mainstream-Glauben“ hegen. Während diese Devianz in der bisherigen Form keine oder kaum Auswirkungen auf gesellschaftliche Prozesse hatte, ist ab 2016 eine Zeitenwende erkennbar. Verschiedene Indizien geben Anlass zur Sorge, denn obwohl sog. „alternative Fakten“ – Falschmeldungen, Fake-News und Desinformationen – keine gänzlich neuen politischen Phänomene darstellen, erhöht sich deren virulente Wirkung durch das Internet. Dabei sticht insbesondere ein Vorfall hervor, der als Präzedenzfall einer Wirklichkeitsmanipulation mit weitreichender Implikation gelten kann: #Pizzagate.
To Train Terrorists Onsite or Motivate via the Internet…That is the Question
2020 Siqueira, K. and Arce, D. Article
This paper investigates an agency model of a terrorist organization in which the training and motivation of recruits can occur onsite, in physical training camps, or at arm's length through the Internet. In so doing, we develop measures of the effectiveness and efficacy of these recruit training methods. A dividing line for choosing between the two is characterized in terms of the degree to which onsite training augments an operative's probability of mission success. In comparing our results to data on terror-tactic lethality, one implication is that terrorist organizations are likely to consider Internet training as sufficient for any tactic that is less complex and less lethal than vehicular assaults, and will require onsite motivation and training for more complex missions such as multiple-operative mass shootings and suicide bombings.
Onlife Extremism: Dynamic Integration of Digital and Physical Spaces in Radicalization
2020 Valentini, D., Lorusso, A.M. and Stephan, A. Article
This article argues that one should consider online and offline radicalization in an integrated way. Occasionally, the design of some counter-measure initiatives treats the internet and the “real” world as two separate and independent realms. New information communication technologies (ICTs) allow extremists to fuse digital and physical settings. As a result, our research contends that radicalization takes place in onlife spaces: hybrid environments that incorporate elements from individuals’ online and offline experiences. This study substantiates this claim, and it examines how algorithms structure information on social media by tracking users’ online and offline activities. Then, it analyzes how the Islamic State promoted onlife radicalization. We focus on how the Islamic State used Telegram, specific media techniques, and videos to connect the Web to the territories it controlled in Syria. Ultimately, the article contributes to the recalibration of the current debate on the relationship between online and offline radicalization on a theoretical level and suggests, on a practical level, potential counter measures.
Do Platforms Kill?
2020 Lavi, M. Article
This Article analyzes intermediaries’ civil liability for terror attacks under the anti-terror statutes and other doctrines in tort law. It aims to contribute to the literature in several ways. First, it outlines the way intermediaries aid terrorist activities either willingly or unwittingly. By identifying the role online intermediaries play in terrorist activities, one may lay down the first step towards creating a legal policy that would mitigate the harm caused by terrorists’ incitement over the internet. Second, this Article outlines a minimum standard of civil liability that should be imposed on intermediaries for speech made by terrorists on their platforms. Third, it highlights the contradictions between intermediaries’ policies regarding harmful content and the technologies that create personalized experiences for users, which can sometimes recommend unlawful content and connections.
Social Media in Mali and its Relation to Violent Extremism: A Youth Perspective
2020 Vermeersch, E., Coleman, J., Demuynck, M. and Dal Santo, E. Report
The influence of social media on the spread of violent extremist narratives and online radicalisation processes has recently become a focal point for research in the fields of Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism; however, most of the studies thus far have focused on Western countries and have often been aimed at analysing phenomena such as homegrown and lone wolf terrorism or the online radicalisation of foreign terrorist fighters. Far less evidence-based research has explored the influence of social media on terrorism in Africa and even less regarding Mali in particular. In this report, ICCT and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) seek to fill this gap through an analysis of survey data from youth participants in their joint on-the-ground project in Mali—“Mali (Dis-) Engagement and Re-Integration related to Terrorism” (MERIT)—to determine the implications of social media use for violent extremism in Mali.
Redefining ‘Propaganda’: The Media Strategy of the Islamic State
2020 WInter, C. Article
In this article, Charlie Winter challenges the way in which the word ‘propaganda’ is used in contemporary discourse around war and terrorism. He considers the case of the Islamic State, using it to demonstrate that the term – as it is conventionally understood – is an inadequate tool when it comes to describing the full range of tactical and strategic approaches to communication that are employed by insurgents today. If anything, he contends, ‘propaganda’ refers to an entire information ecosystem in which different media are geared towards different tasks.
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