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

The Internet And Homegrown Jihadist Terrorism: Assessing U S Detection Techniques
2010 Banez, J.D. MA Thesis
The idea of homegrown terrorism is not a new concept, especially considering the history of challenges faced by the United States and other Western countries. However, the current violent jihadist problem has overshadowed those past misfortunes in terms of its objective and volatility. What is emergent is the means by which the individuals involved in this movement reinforce or possibly operationalize their radicalized behavior. The Internet is often that vehicle. Efforts to reform U.S. intelligence have placed increasing value on open-source information for threat assessments. Consequently, the open Internet has been targeted in search of radical actors, both foreign and homegrown. Some analysts contend that the availability of radical discourse on the Internet presents an opportunity for early identification by authorities. This thesis analyzes the value of open-source exploitation of the Internet in the domestic counterterrorism role in relation to other detection techniques in order to extract best practices and lessons learned for improved intelligence and law enforcement activities.
Reducing The Threat Of Terrorism Through Knowledge Sharing In A Virtual Environment Between Law Enforcement And The Private Security Industry
2008 Gallagher, J.P. MA Thesis
Each day approximately 6,800 members of the private security workforce are deployed across Kansas City to provide protection services at venues, many of which have been identified as being critical infrastructure and/or key resources. While these guards are tasked with providing the first line of defense at these locations, there is currently no mechanism or protocol in place to facilitate the timely exchange of threat information between private security and the KCPD. To empower this resource as a terrorism prevention force multiplier the development of a web-based virtual knowledge-sharing initiative was explored in this study as a solution to provide “one-stop shopping” for consumers of homeland security-related needs from the private security industry. The factors measured in this study indicate that private security leaders perceived significant value in the proposed initiative and that the current environment is one that would favor success. One factor that supports this finding was the strong positive bias displayed to the “trust” factor, which was identified in this research as the lubricant of exchange relationships. While leaders did not demonstrate a high level of concern regarding the threat of a local terrorist act occurring in the next five years, the sharing of threat information did indicate that complacency could be reduced and the level of interest/value of participating be increased through the sharing of threat knowledge. Industry leaders also clearly indicated a universal belief that private security should have a role in the mission of countering terrorism to include critical infrastructure.
Brand Caliphate And Recruitment Between The Genders
2016 Monroe, B.L.E. MA Thesis
Since the declaration of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014, men and women have been recruited to join the Caliphate in numbers surpassing those recruited by al Qaida. This variance in recruitment volume is likely attributable to the online propaganda campaign, Brand Caliphate. This thesis looks at the recruitment of women and asks if Brand Caliphate specifically targets females with its messaging, and if so, is the messaging effective? Based on a textual analysis of Brand Caliphate’s propaganda, it appears IS tried to deliver messaging targeted toward females. However, six case studies of radicalized females suggest the recruitment of these women does not appear to be directly attributable to the targeted messaging. There is, however, evidence that most of the female recruitment studied linked to online radicalization and Brand Caliphate’s broader messaging. All of the women studied did initially look online for information regarding IS. This initial outreach served to identify them as targets for radicalization by IS recruiters, who continued to persuade the females through direct online communication. Ultimately, a sense of belonging to a community, even if it exists online, served as a more powerful draw to potential recruits than the targeted messaging of Brand Caliphate.
"Support For Sisters Please": Comparing The Online Roles Of Al-Qaeda Women And Their Islamic State Counterparts
2016 Peladeau, H. MA Thesis
This study evaluates female roles in pro-jihadist terrorism by examining online content. Data was collected from 36 Twitter accounts of women associated with al-Qaeda (AQ) affiliated groups for a period of six months. The purpose for collecting this data was to: 1) compare how traditional female roles, as constructed within a jihadi-Salafist ideology, are reproduced and challenged on social media; 2) and determine the extent that AQ-affiliated women conform to roles outlined in Huey’s classification of females in pro-Islamic State (IS) Twitter networks. The results of this study reveal that women’s traditional roles in pro-jihadist activities are reproduced on Twitter. Although the women appear to be empowered by the anonymity that Twitter provides, their roles remain largely constrained to those in supportive positions. AQ women mainly use Twitter to share the ideological beliefs of AQ and provide emotional support for fellow AQ members. In comparison with IS, AQ females subscribe to only a portion of the roles outlined in Huey’s classification.
Promises Of Paradise? - A Study On Official ISIS-Propaganda Targeting Women
2016 Tarras-Wahlberg, L. MA Thesis
Since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011 close to 30 000 foreign recruits from more than 100countries have migrated to the area of Iraq and Syria in support of the terrorist organization this thesis will refer to as ISIS. Among those traveling is a historically unprecedented number of women. Why women are drawn to violent Islamic extremist groups is rather unexplored. Through a qualitative text analysis of official ISIS-propaganda, this thesis investigates what promises the organization makes to women, examining pull-factors derived from social media studies of female migration to ISIS-held territories. The thesis concludes that women are promised the possibility to fulfill their religious duty, become important state builders, experience deep and meaningful belonging and sisterhood, to live an exciting adventure and find true romance, as well as being increasingly influential is also promised. Official propaganda does not make explicit promises to women of exerting violence. A secondary purpose of the thesis is to assess the potential risk that ISIS-affiliated women returning to the West, pose to society. This thesis further concludes that women who gain limited knowledge of handling weapons and explosives in ISIS-territory are not probable participants in armed terrorist attacks directed towards the West. However, through increased social networks acquired while in Syria or Iraq, women may play an important supporting role in the process of planning, crowdfunding and executing attacks. Based on these findings the thesis provides some gender-specific policy proposals intended to counter the recruitment of women to ISIS.
Application Of Recurrent Neural Networks In Toxic Comment Classification
2018 Li, S. MA Thesis
Moderators of online discussion forums often struggle with controlling extremist comments on their platforms. To help provide an efficient and accurate tool to detect online toxicity, we apply word2vec's Skip-Gram embedding vectors, Recurrent Neural Network models like Bidirectional Long Short-term Memory to tackle a toxic comment classification problem with a labeled dataset from Wikipedia Talk Page. We explore different pre-trained embedding vectors from larger corpora. We also assess the class imbalance issues associated with the dataset by employing sampling techniques and penalizing loss. Models we applied yield high overall accuracy with relatively low cost.
Automatic Detection And Forecasting Of Violent Extremist Cyber-Recruitment
2014 Scanlon, J. MA Thesis
The growing use of the Internet as a major means of communication has led to the formation of cyber-communities, which have become increasingly appealing to violent extremists due to the unregulated nature of Internet communication. Online communities enable violent extremists to increase recruitment by allowing them to build personal relationships with a worldwide audience capable of accessing uncensored content. This research presents methods for identifying and forecasting the recruitment activities of violent groups within extremist social media websites. Specifically, these methods employ techniques within supervised learning and natural language processing for automatically: (1) identifying forum posts intended to recruit new violent extremist members, and (2) forecasting recruitment efforts by tracking changes in an online community's discussion over time. We used data from the western jihadist website Ansar AlJihad Network, which was compiled by the University of Arizona's Dark Web Project. Multiple judges manually annotated a sample of these data, marking 192 randomly sampled posts as recruiting (Yes) or non-recruiting (No). We observed significant agreement between the judges' labels; the confidence interval of Cohen's kappa was (0.5,0.9) at p=0.01. We used naive Bayes models, logistic regression, classification trees, boosting, and support vector machines (SVM) to classify the forum posts in a 10-fold cross-validation experimental setup. Evaluation with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves show that our SVM classifier achieves 89% area under the curve (AUC), a significant improvement over the 63% AUC performance achieved by our simplest naive Bayes model (Tukey's test at p=0.05). The forecasting task uses a time series regression analysis to model the daily count of extremist recruitment posts. Evaluation with mean absolute scaled error (MASE) shows that employing latent topics as predictors can reduce forecast error compared to a naive (random-walk) model and the baseline time series model. To our knowledge, these are the first results reported on these tasks, and our analysis indicates that automatic detection and forecasting of online terrorist recruitment are feasible tasks. This research could ultimately help identify the impact of violent organizations, like terrorist groups, within the social network of an online community. There are also a number of important areas of future work including classifying non-English posts and measuring how recruitment posts and current events change membership numbers over time.
Detection And Monitoring Of Improvised Explosive Device Education Networks Through The World Wide Web
2009 Stinson, R.T. MA Thesis
As the information age comes to fruition, terrorist networks have moved mainstream by promoting their causes via the World Wide Web. In addition to their standard rhetoric, these organizations provide anyone with an Internet connection the ability to access dangerous information involving the creation and implementation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Unfortunately for governments combating terrorism, IED education networks can be very difficult to find and even harder to monitor. Regular commercial search engines are not up to this task, as they have been optimized to catalog infor mation quickly and e fficiently for user ease of access while promoting retail commerce at the same time. This thesis presents a performance analysis of a new search engine algorithm designed to help find IED education networks using the Nutch open-source search engine architecture. It reveals which web pages are more important via references from other web pages regardless of domain. In addition, this thesis discusses the potential evaluation and monitoring techniques to be used in conjunction with the proposed algorithm.
Information Age Terrorism: Toward Cyberterror
1995 Littleton, M.J. MA Thesis
The growing ubiquity of computers and their associated networks are propelling the world into the information age. Computers may revolutionize terrorism in the same manner that they have revolutionized everyday life. Terrorism in the information age will consist of conventional terrorism, in which classic weapons (explosives, guns, etc.) will be used to destroy property and kill victims in the physical world; techno terrorism, in which classic weapons will be used to destroy infrastructure targets and cause a disruption in cyberspace; and cyberterrorism, where new weapons (malicious software, electromagnetic and microwave weapons) will operate to destroy data in cyberspace to cause a disruption in the physical world. The advent of cyberterrorism may force a shift in the definition of terrorism to include both disruption and violence in cyberspace in the same manner as physical destruction and violence. Through the use of new technology, terrorist groups may have fewer members, yet still, have a global reach. The increasing power of computers may lower the threshold of state sponsorship to a point where poor states can become sponsors and rich states are no longer necessary for terrorist groups to carry out complex attacks. This thesis explores the shift toward information warfare across the conflict spectrum and its implications for terrorism. By examining the similarities and differences with past conventional terrorism, policymakers will be able to place information age terrorism into a known framework and begin to address the problem.
Digital Discourse, Online Repression, And Cyberterrorism: Information Communication Technologies In Russia’s North Caucasus Republics
2019 Tewell, Z.S. MA Thesis
Is the cyber-utopian versus cyber-repression argument the most effective way to frame the political uses of new technologies? Contemporary discourse on social media fails to highlight political dynamics in authoritarian regimes with weak state control, where independent groups can capitalize on the use of coercive force. In this thesis, I will explore the various methods through which information communication technologies are utilized by civil groups, uncivil groups, and the state using Russia's North Caucasus republics as a case study. New technologies are exploited through a variety of means by an array of actors in the North Caucasus whose goals may not necessarily be democratic. Through this evidence I demonstrate that information communication technologies do not inherently aid democratization, nor do they necessarily aid the incumbent regime; rather, they are merely a conduit through which existing groups put forth their agendas regarding their ideals of the modern state.
An Analysis Of International Agreements Over Cybersecurity
2018 Ashbaugh, L. MA Thesis
Research into the international agreements that increase cooperation over cybersecurity challenges is severely lacking. This is a necessary next step for bridging diplomatic challenges over cybersecurity. This work aspires to be push the bounds of research into these agreements and offer a tool that future researchers can rely on. For this research I created, and made publicly available, the International Cybersecurity Cooperation Dataset (ICCD), which contains over 350 international cybersecurity agreements and pertinent metadata. Each agreement is marked per which subtopics within cybersecurity related agreements it covers. These typologies are:
• Discussion and Dialogue
• Research
• Confidence Building Measures
• Incident Response
• Crime
• Capacity Building
• Activity Limiting
• Defense
• Terrorism
Drawing on ICCD and R for summary statistics and significance tests, as well as some quantitative insights, this research explores the relationship between different agreements, organizations, and other possibly related factors. The most significant takeaways from this research are:
1. Governments view cybersecurity in terms of relative advantages and are hesitant to engage competitors with agreements over topics like incident response and capacity building.
2. Authoritarian governments are involved with agreements over controlling or projecting state power and government authority while democratic governments focus on resilience and defense.
3. There are two groupings of authoritarian governments, those with high technical capabilities and those without. Technically capable governments focus on agreements over terrorism, and they also often end up participating in activity limiting agreements. Those without are preoccupied with agreements over criminal activity.
4. Discussion and dialogue agreements tend to accompany agreements over additional topics about one fifth of the time. While policy-makers shouldn’t create a hard rule out of this statistic, it does possibly strengthen an optimistic hypothesis that dialogue consistently leads to agreements.
Hopefully this research invigorates researchers’ interest in studying and understanding when cooperation over cybersecurity is successful or not. Policy-makers will need this knowledge if they are to achieve their goals in an environment that is rapidly increasing in state actors and
The Discourse Of Cyberterrorism: Exceptional Measures Call For The Framing Of Exceptional Times
2015 Auwema, N. M. MA Thesis
The configuration of the discourse of cyberterrorism in the Netherlands is a mix of public and private actors that have diverging views about whether cyberterrorism is a genuine security threat. How and why have several of these actors argued that it is a genuine security threat? What was their interest in doing so? Has cyberterrorism possibly been framed or hyped as a genuine security threat? This thesis examines the discourse of cyberterrorism in the Netherlands by examining the field, the position on cyberterrorism of the actors within this field, and finally, their levels of technological capital, legitimacy and authority. Considering the differences in these levels, this thesis contends that public and private actors have different interests in arguing that cyberterrorism is a threat. While public actors are concerned with the protection of Dutch cyberspace and the Dutch society, private actors, with the exception of Fox-IT, have multiple interests. This has led these private actors to frame or hype cyberterrorism as a genuine security threat, without the necessary background to base their statement on. Exceptional measures have led to the framing of exceptional times.
Cyber-Terrorism: Finding A Common Starting Point
2012 Jeffrey Thomas, B. MA Thesis
Attacks on computer systems for both criminal and political purposes are on the rise in both the United States and around the world. Foreign terrorist organizations are also developing information technology skills to advance their goals. Looking at the convergence of these two phenomena, many prominent security experts in both government and private industry have rung an alarm bell regarding the potential for acts of cyber-terrorism. However, there is no precise definition of cyber-terrorism under United States law or in practice among cyber-security academicians. The lack of a common starting point is one of the reasons existing law fails to directly address cyberterrorism. This paper furnishes a lexicon of cyber-related malicious activities and argues for a common working definition of cyber-terrorism. This definition can be both incorporated into current counter-terror legislation and used by government agencies to combat cyberterrorism. This paper arrives at that definition by analyzing the various definitions proposed by security experts and those in use by governmental organizations. This paper builds on these definitions to arrive at a new definition that is at once broad enough to cover the potentially unique effects of a weapon of cyber-terrorism, while narrow enough to exclude computer network attacks that are relatively minor in nature. Second, analyzing several recent cyber attacks, this paper finds that, while we have not yet faced a “cyber 9/11,” computer network attacks for political purposes are on the rise and becoming increasing complex. Third, this paper analyzes current law related to both cyber-crimes and terrorism, finding that while these laws are applicable in many instances, they fall short in adequately focusing on the most important factor when addressing cyber-terrorism: prevention. This paper concludes by recommending that cyber-terrorism, as defined in this paper, be incorporated into some of our most frequently used laws to combat terrorism.
Identification And Ranking Of Critical Assets Within An Electrical Grid Under Threat Of Cyber Attack
2011 Boyer, B. R. MA Thesis
This paper examines the ranking of critical assets within an electrical grid under threat of cyber attack. Critical to this analysis is the assumption of zero hour exploits namely, the threat of an immediate attack as soon as a vulnerability is discovered. Modeling shows that over time load fluctuations as well as other system variations will change the importance of each asset in the delivery of bulk power. As opposed to classic stability studies where risk can be shown to be greatest during high load periods, the zero hour exploit-cyber-risk assumes that vulnerabilities will be attacked as soon as they are discovered. The probability of attacks is made uniform over time to include any and all possible attacks. Examining the impact of an attack and how the grid reacts immediately following an attack will identify and determine the criticality of each asset. This work endeavors to fulfill the NERC Critical Infrastructure Protection Requirements CIP-001-1 through CIP-009-2, cyber security requirements for the reliable supply of bulk power to customers throughout North America.
The California Independent System Operator Security Vulnerabilities
2010 Brow, S. L. MA Thesis
Our country is still in the early stages of the 21st century where technology is advancing on a daily basis allowing the threat of terrorism, both domestic and foreign, to pose a serious risk to both its citizens and its assets if not addressed soon. There are numerous potentially vulnerable sites throughout the country that are still left under guarded and under-protected, specifically my emphasis for this project, the California Independent System Operator (ISO). This multilayered project utilizes public information from the Department of Homeland Security manual. The project also includes information from various national publications of defense principles and security countermeasures, as well as law enforcement protocols in place to deal with these types of security threats and potential breaches, scholarly articles, and industry trade journals.
The California ISO lacks physical and some virtual controls that make it more vulnerable to attacks. Specific recommendations have been made to ensure that the ISO is better protected and can still run an effective business.
Cyberterrorism Cyber Prevention Vs Cyber Recovery
1993 DiBiasi, J. R. MA Thesis
The technological age has forced the U.S. to engage a new set of national security challenges. Several potential adversaries have cyberspace capabilities comparable to those of the U.S., and are constantly conducting surveillance, gathering technical information, and mapping critical nodes that could be exploited in future conflicts. How can the U.S. government best defend against future cyber attacks? Recent policy documents set out a strategy for securing all of cyberspace, which experts argue is impossible to implement, but also unnecessary. This thesis seeks to move the discussion beyond this stalemate by undertaking an analysis of the vulnerability of cyberspace to terrorist attacks. The first analysis examines the Code Red Worm and the Slammer Worm. These two worms were selected because they were highly destructive and spread faster than normal worms, making them well suited for assessing the existing security of computers and networks. The next analysis examines a staged cyber attack on critical infrastructure, entitled Attack Aurora. In the staged Aurora attack, researchers from the Department of Energy’s Idaho lab hacked into a replica of a power plant’s control system. This attack is the most recent staged attack and facilitates an analysis of vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures to cyberterrorism.
Design And Control Of Resilient Interconnected Microgrids For Reliable Mass Transit Systems
2019 Egan, T. J. G. MA Thesis
Mass transit systems are relied on a daily basis to transport millions of passengers and bring billions of dollars' worth of economic goods to market. While some forms of mass transit rely on a fuel, electrified railway systems are dependent on the electric grid. The electric grid is becoming more vulnerable to disruptions, due to extreme weather, changing supply and demand patterns, and cyber-terrorism. An interruption to the energy supply of a railway infrastructure can have cascading effects on the economy and social livelihood. Resilient interconnected microgrids are proposed to maintain reliable operation of electri_ed railway infrastructures. An engineering design framework, and supporting methods and techniques, is proposed for an electrified railway infrastructure to be upgraded from its existing form, to one with resilient interconnected microgrids. The sizing of the interconnected microgrids is performed using an iterative sizing analysis, considering multiple resiliency key performance indicators to inform the designer of the trade-o_s in sizing options. Hierarchical control is proposed to monitor and control the interconnected microgrids. A multi-objective problem cast in the tertiary level of control is proposed to be solved using game theory. The proposed designs are modelled and simulated in Simulink. Four case studies of railway infrastructures in Canada and the United Kingdom are used to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed designs. While results for each case study vary, resilient interconnected microgrids for railway infrastructures demonstrates a reduced dependence on the electric grid. The examples here are all scalable and can perform within the framework of any available energy system. The results are both extremely impressive and promising towards a more resilient and stable energy future for our railway and other critical infrastructures.
New Zealand Government And Critical Infrastructure Ready Reaction To Cyber Terrorism
2008 Watt, A. C. MA Thesis
The purpose of this research is to obtain input from government agencies, elements of the critical infrastructure and cyber space, to determine what level of knowledge on cyber terrorism exists. Furthermore, are there ready reaction plans in place, and is staff-awareness training conducted on a regular basis? This probably won’t prevent or stop an attack of cyber terrorism, and like any other disaster in the IT world, if contingency planning exists, recovery can be quicker and greater mitigation of costs.

Interview questions were distributed to New Zealand government departments and elements that make up the critical infrastructure, to obtain an insight into the current situation. From this and other comparisons, inferences have been drawn to determine that if some of the groups were targeted would the fact that they could be deficient in knowledge on cyber terrorism, make the effect more intense and longer lasting. It has also provided the state of knowledge, the level of planning and the general readiness that currently exists.

In view of these findings recommendations have been made that will ensure there is consistency across all organisations, both government and nongovernment. All organisations, including the government, are reliant on the critical infrastructure and the internet for both operational and domestic survival. It is therefore pertinent that agencies give some consideration to these findings.
Knowledge And Perceptions Of Cyberterrorism
2007 Van Hoogensty, A. J. MA Thesis
While the threat of terrorists utilizing the Internet to execute a cyberterrorist attack is of prominent concern there exist great misconceptions and factual errors in the media as to the nature of this threat (Conway, 2002; Embar-Seddon, 2002; Weimann, 2005). This thesis examined media exposure, knowledge of cyberterrorism, fear of terrorism and perceived seriousness of cyberterrorist events in a sample of college students. Generally, participants had little knowledge of cyberterrorism. Women were found to be more fearful of terrorism and cyberterrorism than men. A positive relation was found between media consumption and fear of terrorism among women. Finally, fear of terrorism was positively related to perceived seriousness of cyberterrorist events.
The Effectiveness Of The Principle Of Distinction In The Context Of Cyber Warfare
2014 Van Breda, L. C. MA Thesis
International humanitarian law provides foundational norms which are to be observed by states in order to protect civilians from the harsh realities of war. These norms have been applied to traditional kinetic methods of warfare but as technology advances at a rapid pace so too do methods of warfare. As weaponry becomes more sophisticated it is necessary to revisit the foundational principles of international humanitarian law and apply them to situations that could only previously have been imagined. The principles of distinction is a core principle of this branch of law and it is not to be disregarded as a result of the fact that it predates modern methods of warfare but rather it is to be re-examined, its importance observed and applied to the warfare that we are faced with today. Protecting civilians has been of utmost importance in recent history and the development in the technology of weapons should not change that fact in the present or future.