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 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.


Full Listing

Online Extremism and Terrorism Researchers’ Security, Safety, and Resilience: Findings from the Field
2023 Pearson, E., Whittaker, J., Baaken, T., Zeiger, S., Atamuradova, F. and Conway, M. Report
VOX-Pol's new report presents findings from the REASSURE (Researcher, Security, Safety, and Resilience) project's in-depth interviews with 39 online extremism and terrorism researchers. Based at universities, research institutes, and think tanks in Europe and North America, the interviewees studied mainly, albeit not exclusively, far-right and violent jihadist online activity. The report catalogues for the first time the range of harms they have experienced, the lack of formalised systems of care or training, and their reliance therefore on informal support networks to mitigate those harms.
Using social media to research terrorism and extremism
2023 Kingdon, A. and Ylitalo-James, E. Chapter
Social media is one of humankinds most liberating innovations, yet has become a virtual forecourt for extremists who seek to radicalise, recruit, and disseminate propaganda, effectively transforming this technology into a vessel for hatred and violence. Social media research has a rich repertoire of methods through which to capture data to aid researchers in their understanding of extremist and terrorist activity. This chapter outlines the methodological approaches of interviews, Social Network Analysis, and Open Source Intelligence, and details the affordances and limitations of each. The chapter concludes by arguing that social media both necessitates and requires methodological innovation, specifically in relation to adapting traditional methods and developing new ones specifically tailored to examining extremism in the virtual environment. Social media is in many ways modern society’s Gutenberg press, and research methods need to be technologically and ethically compatible if they are to aid the fight against extremism online.
Using online data in terrorism research
2023 Macdonald, S., Pearson, E., Scrivens, R. and Whittaker, J. Chapter
This chapter considers three types of online data available for researchers. First, it looks at machine learning and its use when considering the vast amount of data available to detect indicators of involvement in terrorism. Next, the chapter considers case studies and their use when addressing ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. Given the difficulty of research with this population, case studies lend themselves to analysis of an individual terrorist’s behaviour. Finally, netnography (an ethnographic study of online communities) is reviewed with the argument that it has furthered our understanding of radicalisation. This area of research considers the intersection of online and offline relationships in mobilising people towards radicalisation. The chapter concludes with a review of the benefits and weaknesses of these different online research methods.
The ‘First Person Shooter’ Perspective: A Different View on First Person Shooters, Gamification, and First Person Terrorist Propaganda
2023 Andrews, S. Article
During the 2019 Christchurch attack, the perpetrator livestreamed footage from a helmet-mounted camera. The aesthetic similarity of the attack footage to first-person shooter (FPS) videogames has led to speculation that this might have somehow ‘gamified’ the attack. Generally, the argument for this is that the attack footage (1) imitates or resembles FPS games, gamifying attacks (2) increasing the affective appeal of propaganda by presenting it as play and thereby (3) increasing the salience of these attacks within gaming communities. This article challenges these notions. It argues that the FPS genre should not be associated with such footage due to visual similarity and is better considered in relation to film. The idea that such footage was purposefully shot to look like an FPS is unsupported, and more likely the result of practical considerations. While the framework of gamification might be useful, it should rest on interactivity, rather than aesthetic similarity.
Islamic State Online: A Look at the Group’s South Asian Presence on Alternate Platforms
2023 Ganesan, S. and Siyech, M.S. Report
This report provides an analysis of the migration of IS supporters in South Asia to Hoop Messenger. The authors collated data from more than 25 South Asia-centric channels from 2019 until Hoop Messenger was shut down in October 2022. This report further identifies distinct variation among IS narratives across channels dedicated to individual states in South Asia. For example, in channels dedicated to Afghanistan, narratives criticised the Taliban for not being Islamic enough. In channels dedicated to Pakistan, narratives focused on criticism of the state for allying with the United States. Indian IS channels focused on the mistreatment of and violence towards Muslims. In Bangladesh IS channels, the narrative focused on reconnecting Bangladesh and its citizens with their Muslim roots.
Everybody Wants to be a Fascist Online: Psychoanalysis and the Digital Architecture of Fascism
2023 Faramelli, A. and Piper, I. Featured
Félix Guattari and Franco Berardi have both argued that media ecologies and psychic ecologies are intimately intertwined and as such, any exploration of the collective unconscious must engage with how the mind is formed with and through media. This understanding of networks of interdependence necessitates an exploration of how platformization has impacted users” collective psyche. Drawing from psychosocial theory, psychoanalysis and the work of Félix Guattari, this article analizes the micropolitics of desire of digital platforms, with an explicit focus on how algorithmic structures amplify extreme Right content, allowing fascisms to metastasis throughout digital spaces. It will first examine the algorithmic architecture of social media platforms, demonstrating how these digital spaces lock in and over-code desire through recursive feedback loops that amplify extremism. Following this will be an exploration of the excess of desire that is cut off and left as a remainder partial object, termed the “fascist abject,” and what role this process plays in the production of subjectivity.
The Use of Counter Narratives to Combat Violent Extremism Online
2023 Rees, J. and Montasari, R. Chapter
Due to recent rises in extremism across the globe (Dean et al. in J Polic Intell Count Terror 11:121–142, 2016; Le Roux in Responding to the rise in violent extremism in the Sahel. Africa Center For Strategic Studies, 2019, p. 26) and (Jones in Int Secur 32:7–40, 2008), governments and law enforcement organisations, such as the police, have looked to new strategies to counter violent extremism (Russell and Theodosiou in Counter-extremism: a decade on from 7/7. Quilliam Foundation, 2015). Specifically, there has been an expanse of the field now widely known as Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). CVE is a highly contested area; however, upon conducting a literature review, Inserra (Revisiting efforts to counter violent extremism: leadership needed. The Heritage Foundation, 2015, p. 2) helpfully reduced the term CVE down to descriptions of interventions intended to “stop individuals from radicalizing”. LaFree and Freilich (Annu Rev Criminol 2:383–404, 2019) distinguish counter-terrorism from CVE, they describe counter-terrorism as military responses (‘hard’) as opposed to non-military responses (‘soft’), referred to as countering violent extremism strategies. This chapter contends that, although counter narratives tend to lack academic standing, there does appear to be a widespread acceptance that narratives influence individuals’ beliefs. Therefore, in the absence of other more effective methods of CVE online, it is argued that counter-narratives (CN) should be used in informed ways by organisations such as the police (Monaghan in Crime Media Cult 18(1):21–39, 2020). This chapter will compare academic understandings of narrative and communication alongside examples of counter narratives issued against them. It will then assess the impact of such strategies and potential alternatives for CN.
Exploring the Extent to Which Extremism and Terrorism Have Changed Since the Advent of the Internet
2023 Locaj, K. Chapter
This review will examine the academic literature over which role the internet has in the evolution of extremism and terrorism since its advent. It will compare two different approaches. The first claims that the internet is a major factor that facilitates ideas and narratives, which can lead to the rise of extremism and terrorism. The second, which in its turn contradicts this approach, argues that prior the advent of the internet extremists and terrorists where more successful into achieving their goals. For that reason, the review will be split into 3 sections. The first section will be examining some needed key definitions of what constitutes terrorism and extremism. Afterwards the essay will shift its approach towards the main debate of whether the internet has a causal link with extremism and terrorism or not. Therefore Sect. 2 brings forth the ways, in which the internet has helped terrorism to advance its goals. Moving on to the third section, this piece of work will discuss the approach in which the internet does not assist extremist narratives but, in the contrary helps the advancement of better research around it and its prevention. Lastly, the review will sum up over the literature that has been discussed and conclude that there is always space for future research.
The Role of the Internet in Radicalisation to Violent Extremism
2023 Bamsey, O. and Montasari, R. Chapter
This chapter critically examines the role that the Internet and the Internet of Things (IoT) play in violent extremism. The chapter specifically focuses on arguments surrounding radicalisation as a pathway to terrorism and how individuals become radicalised due to different radicalisation processes and theories. Based on this critical analysis, the chapter argues that the Internet plays a key role in radicalisation to violent extremism due to several approaches. Issues highlighted in this chapter mainly focusses on the struggles of social media (SM) moderation and regulations. Furthermore, the chapter discusses how the IoT can aid SM regulation to reduce online radicalisation to violent extremism through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology. It will be argued how AI and ML could be deployed to reduce terrorist content online, making social media platforms (SMPs) a safer cyber space for individuals to operate within.
Communities of Hateful Practice: The collective learning of accelerationist right-wing extremists, with a case study of the Halle synagogue attack
2022 Fürstenberg, M. Report
In the past, far-right aggression predominantly focused on national settings and street terror against minorities; today, however, it is increasingly embedded in global networks and acts within a strategic framework aimed at revolution, targeting the liberal order as such. Ideologically combining antisemitism, racism, and anti-feminism/anti-LGBTQI, adherents of this movement see modern societies as degenerate and weak, with the only solution being a violent collapse that they attempt to accelerate with their actions. The terrorist who attacked the synagogue and a kebab shop in Halle, Germany, in October 2019 clearly identified with this transnational community and situated his act as a continuation of a series of attacks inspired by white supremacy in the past decade. The common term ‘lone wolf’ for these kinds of terrorists is in that sense a misnomer, as they are embedded in digital ‘wolf packs’.

Although this movement is highly decentralized and heterogeneous, there are interactive processes that connect and shape the online milieu of extremists into more than the sum of its parts, forming a structure which facilitates a certain degree of cohesion, strategic agency, and learning. This paper uses the model of collective learning outside formal organizations to analyze how the revolutionary accelerationist right as a community of practice engages in generating collective identities and knowledge that are used in the service of their acts of death and destruction.
Terror Through The Looking Glass Information Orientations And The Lens Of Web Search Engines
2022 Whyte, C. Article
Researchers and pundits alike regularly describe terrorism as being a theatrical performance that depends on publicity to build recognition, garner attention and command legitimation. Clearly, the mechanical contours of the information environment matter when it comes to determining the opportunities and challenges for both terrorist and counterterrorist success. This article addresses arguably the most singularly significant intermediary for information access in modern society: web search engines. These information gatekeepers play a crucial role in guiding both government and non-state approaches to terror. That said, these tools are associated with bias and malperformance on a number of fronts. This study examines the degree to which different search engine usage might present a differential view of terrorism to different users. I turn to agent-based digital infrastructure as a basis for studying divergent information experiences with a major terrorist incident, specifically the suicide bombing and subsequent small arms attacks on the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. The results are striking, confirming that there is substantial and clear variation in the outputs based around a host of factors—variable queries and query styles, information orientations and subsequent personalization, geographic location and, of course, search engine choice.
The Buffalo Attack: Implications for Online Safety
2022 Ofcom Report
On 14 May 2022, an attack was carried out in Buffalo, New York, which resulted in the death of ten individuals and the wounding of three others. The attack was livestreamed online and versions of the footage were disseminated on multiple online services, potentially exposing UK users to content related to terrorism.

As the regulator of UK-established video-sharing platforms (VSPs) and the prospective UK online safety regulator, we sought to learn from the tragic event by reviewing industry responses to the livestreamed attack and cross-industry collaboration to prevent dissemination of associated content.
The virtual "Caliphate" strikes back? Mapping the Islamic State's information ecosystem on the surface web
2022 Lakomy, M. Article
This study maps the surface web information ecosystem exploited by the Islamic State (IS) and its followers between December 2020 and June 2021. Open-source intelligence investigation allowed a massive online presence of Daesh, manifested by hundreds of communication channels, to be detected. Its propaganda dissemination was founded mainly on one “central” Arabic domain, linked to a constellation of auxiliary standalone websites, blogs, encrypted messaging apps, as well as file-sharing and streaming services. Aside from it, the Islamic State utilised other surface web environments, including numerous Internet Archive profiles and a network of communication channels established by Afaaq Electronic Foundation. This study also shows that URLs banned by law enforcement in 2020 and 2021 were usually quickly restored by the IS’s media offices.
Webbpoliser, gaming och kontranarrativ
2022 Ahlerup, L. and Ranstorp, M.
Studien påvisar bland annat att det finns oändliga möjligheter att använda sig av den digitala arenan i förhållande till förebyggande arbete, samt att integreringen av den digitala arenan är ytterst centralt för att på ett effektivt sätt kunna förebygga och motverka just extremism och våldsbejakande extremism. Detta då en stor del av extremistiska aktörers aktiviteter i dagsläget sker just online, samt då det är tydligt att online- och offlinedimensionen inte kan separeras funktionellt. Det konstateras dock att flera av de befintliga initiativ som studeras främst tenderar att existera som isolerade företeelser, snarare än att exempelvis utgöra en del av en omfattande nationell handlingsplan samt strategi i relation till det förebyggande arbetet mot extremism och våldsbejakande extremism. Trots att det alltså existerar ett flertal intressanta projekt och initiativ med potential att eventuellt kunna integreras och användas i större utsträckning är det i dagsläget både spretigt och fragmenterat – både nationellt och internationellt.
Online Activities and Extremist Attitudes in Adolescence: An Empirical Analysis with a Gender Differentiation
2022 Goede, L.R., Schröder, C.P., Lehmann, L. and Bliesener, T. Article
Radicalization research is dedicated to analyzing factors related to radicalization processes, which in turn can lead to extremism. One factor is frequently discussed: the role of the Internet. This paper examines the relationship between active and passive online activities, including consumption, networking, and posting, and extremist attitudes in the field of Islamism and right-wing extremism among adolescents. Data from a school survey (N = 6,715) show that right-wing attitudes are particularly correlated with consumption of political websites, though this effect is weaker among females. However, posting shows only a small effect and networking shows no effect at all. Islamist attitudes, on the other hand, are related to the extent to which one consumes violent Islamist videos, meets other Muslims online, and posts Islamic content.

Die Radikalisierungsforschung untersucht Faktoren und Bedingungen von Prozessen, die hin zu Extremismus führen können. Ein häufig genannter Faktor ist das Internet. Diese Arbeit untersucht den Zusammenhang zwischen verschiedenen passiven und aktiven Internetaktivitäten, wie das Konsumieren, Vernetzen und Posten mit extremistischen Einstellungen im Bereich Islamismus und Rechtsextremismus bei Jugendlichen. Daten einer Schüler*innenbefragung (N = 6,715) zeigen, dass rechtsextreme Einstellungen insbesondere bei Jungen mit dem Konsum politischer Websites einhergehen, während Posting nur geringe und das Netzwerken keine Zusammenhänge mit rechtsextremen Einstellungen zeigen. Bei islamistischen Einstellungen zeigen sich dagegen Zusammenhänge mit dem Konsum von islamistischen Gewaltvideos, dem Vernetzen mit anderen Muslim*innen und dem Posten islamischer Inhalte.
“Media is half of Jihad”- An interview with prominent pro Al-Qaeda translation arm- Islamic Translation Centre (ITC)
2022 Thakkar, M. Report
The Islamic State (IS) has been successfully diversifying its appeal and outreach as its aligned media groups like the Islamic State in Khorasan province’s official Al Azaim media, pro-IS Halummu and I’lam foundation prioritised translation efforts as a part of IS global media communication strategy. Al-Qaeda (AQ) on the other hand has faltered in its attempt to directly reach out to different ethnic communities from across the globe owing to the AQ’s official or aligned propaganda outlets not devoting the majority of their energies to the translation front.

This changed when the Islamic Translation Centre (ITC) emerged last year in June 2021 as AQ’s young media translation unit for buttressing AQ’s messaging propaganda to a global audience. Within the pro-AQ media ecosystem, it is the sole multifaceted, multi-language archival website that publishes translations of AQ and its affiliates’ official media content including attack claims, speeches of existing and deceased AQ leaders –Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri – video releases, and books into 29 different languages. These include Pashto, Arabic, Farsi, Indonesien, Ruáingga, Hindi, Malayalam, Assamese, French, German, Swedish, Albanian, Swahili, Portuguese, Spanish, etc.
Deadly Disinformation: Viral Conspiracy Theories as a Radicalization Mechanism
2022 Moskalenko, S. and Romanova, E. Article
Viral online disinformation is misleading content that is generated to manipulate public opinion and to circulate rapidly in the digital space. Although viral disinformation has become an instrument for radicalization, the specific psychological mechanisms by which disinformation can be weaponized––wielded as mobilizing and radicalizing political tools––are not yet well-understood.

In this paper, we establish the potential of concerted disinformation efforts to impact mass radicalization and political violence, first through historical precedents of deadly disinformation campaigns, then in modern-day examples from the USA and Russia. Comparing and contrasting political effects of two recent disinformation campaigns, QAnon’s #SaveTheChildren campaign in the USA, and anti-LGBTQ disinformation campaign in Russia, this paper highlights the significance of LGBTQ contagion threat—a notion that people can be “turned” into LGBTQ through deliberate outside influence. The psychological and political consequences of such messaging, its main target audience, and vulnerability factors rendering individuals especially susceptible to its radicalizing effects are discussed.
The role of social media towards fomenting radicalization among youth in Bangladesh
2022 Talukder, P. and Tanvir, S. Article
The purpose of the study is to identify the role of social media in spreading radicalization among Bangladeshi youth and the factors behind them. The concepts of radicalization and violent extremism have become increasingly prevalent in global politics and development programming during the last few decades and the youths are getting involved through social media from the contents published by the extremist groups. The authors have used qualitative method to understand and scrutinize the findings of the study. In these processes, they have chosen secondary data analysis from articles, journals, books, newspaper etc. in order to collect and analyze data. Finally, they have tried to find out the factors behind the involvement of youths in radicalization and extremist acts through social media, the preventive measures taken by the Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and further possible initiative to boost up the preventive techniques to safeguard the youths. In the consequences, the authors assumed that lack of religious knowledge, adventurous nature, economic factors, cultural factors and identity crisis could be the reasons behind the vulnerability of youths involving in radicalization in Bangladesh.
The Role of Translation in ISIS Propaganda: International Online Radicalization Methods and Its Effect on Extremism in Indonesia
2022 Sari, H.P. and Syauqillah, M. Article
This research aims to compile data and information that will contribute to understanding the online radicalization phenomenon through translation. There are many studies on using the internet and propaganda in a terrorism context. However, only a handful studied the correlation between translation and terrorism propaganda, especially in Indonesia. There was little discussion on the role of translation in bridging communication between different nations, cultures, and languages and using it to propagate radical/propaganda narratives worldwide and amplify those messages to its target audience. The research method is descriptive qualitative using primary and secondary data; the sample is taken from the book of Nadharat Fi Al Ijma' Al Qath'i and previous findings and news. This research revealed at least ten roles of translation in the online radicalization phenomenon; among others, translation in the target language can be used to identify the target audience of the propagandist, and many terrorist sympathizers were willing to volunteer to translate the propaganda. However, although the translation is used to leverage the spread of propaganda, it can also assist law enforcement officers in combating terrorist/propaganda narratives. Indonesian law enforcement officers may use translation to counter-terrorism as Indonesia has hundreds of vernacular languages that can be used to 'encrypt' and disseminate their extremist narratives.
Discussing the Islamic State on Twitter
2022 Colombo, M. and Curini, L. Book
This book explores how ordinary Arab-speaking social media users have reacted to propaganda from the Islamic State, rather than how IS propaganda has targeted ordinary users, thus providing a change in perspective in the literature. The authors provide a comprehensive account of the evolution of the Arabic discourse on IS, encompassing all phases of the Caliphate’s political evolution, from the apogee of the Islamic State in October 2014 to the loss of its unofficial capital of Raqqa in September 2017. Taking into account key events, the book also considers the most recurrent topics for IS and its opponents who engage in the Twitter conversation. The analysis is based on around 29 million tweets written in the Arabic language, representing a random sample of around one-third of all Arabic tweets referring to IS over the 2014-2017 timeframe.
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