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

Rechtsterrorismus im digitalen Zeitalter
2020 Albrecht, S. and Fielitz, M. Report
Der Rechtsterrorismus ist im digitalen Zeitalter angekommen. Von Christchurch bis El Paso haben sich neue Ausdrucksformen rechter Gewalt etabliert, deren Täter mehr in digitalen Subkulturen als in rechtsextremen Organisationen zu verorten sind. Die radikalisierenden Tendenzen obskurer Online-Communitys geraten somit stärker in den Fokus der Forschung und fordern das Verständnis von rechtem Terror heraus. Wie verändert sich der Rechtsterrorismus also im digitalen Zeitalter? Mit diesem Beitrag möchten wir diese Frage mit dem Verweis auf die Beziehung von digitalen Hasskulturen und rechtsterroristischer Gewalt beleuchten. Wir argumentieren, dass die Analyse der Gewalttaten nicht ohne das Verständnis digitaler Hasskulturen auskommt, die Menschenfeindlichkeit über ironische Kommunikationsformate normalisiert. Aus ihnen heraus bildet sich eine rechtsterroristische Subkultur, die die ambivalenten Erzeugnisse digitaler Kulturen aufgreift und mit gewaltverherrlichenden Inhalten des Neonazismus verbindet, um eines zu erreichen: Menschen zur Gewalt anzuspornen.
Cruel Intentions: Female Jihadists in America
2016 Alexander, A. Report
The notion of women in terrorism pushed its way to the forefront of the American mindset on December 2, 2015, when Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Farook, opened fire at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. After the couple killed 14 and injured 22, the growing threat posed by female jihadists in America became immediately apparent to policymakers, law enforcement officials, and the public. Some reports, citing law enforcement officials, claim that Malik pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook the day of the attack.2 IS later praised the couple’s actions in Dabiq, its official English-language magazine, affiliating themselves with the duo.3 Despite these assertions, the FBI’s most recent report has not yet determined a direct link to IS.4 Details about the couple’s path to violence remain buried in an ongoing investigation that may take years to reach the public. In spite of this obstacle, Malik’s case offers exceptional insight into the complex, morphing ventures of jihadist women in America. It is difficult to discern the exact rate at which women participate in jihadist movements in the United States, but the surge in relevant legal cases suggests this figure is on the rise. In the decade following 9/11, only a handful of prominent cases, like that of Aafia Siddiqui5 and Colleen LaRose,6 have shown the threat female jihadists could pose to national security. In recent years, instances of terrorism-related activity perpetrated by women have increased in number. Since 2011, at least 25 known cases of jihadi women with connections to the U.S. have emerged, shedding light on the myriad roles adopted by female jihadists. While few follow in Tashfeen Malik’s footsteps and pursue violent plots, many disseminate propaganda or donate resources to show their support. In some instances, women travel abroad to make direct contributions to a particular group. This report uses a wealth of primary and secondary data to examine the efforts of 25 American jihadi women since 2011.7 The cases offer a tremendous diversity of demographic data, suggesting that an overarching profile of the female jihadist is indiscernible. Moreover, within the dataset, women align themselves with a range of organizations including, but not limited to, IS, al-Shabaab, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda.
Digital Decay? Tracing Change Over Time Among English-Language Islamic State Sympathizers on Twitter
2017 Alexander, A. Report
Until 2016, Twitter was the online platform of choice for
English-language Islamic State (IS) sympathizers. As a
result of Twitter’s counter-extremism policies - including
content removal - there has been a decline in activity
by IS supporters. This outcome may suggest the company’s
efforts have been effective, but a deeper analysis
reveals a complex, nonlinear portrait of decay. Such observations
show that the fight against IS in the digital
sphere is far from over. In order to examine this change
over time, this report collects and reviews 845,646
tweets produced by 1,782 English-language pro-IS accounts
from February 15, 2016 to May 1, 2017.
A Plan for Preventing and Countering Terrorist and Violent Extremist Exploitation of Information and Communications Technology in America
2019 Alexander, A. Report
Policymakers in the United States know that terrorists and violent extremists exploit information and communications technologies (ICTs), but the government still struggles to prevent and counter these threats. Although the U.S. does not face these challenges alone, the strategies and policies emphasized by some of its greatest allies are not viable or suitable frameworks for domestic policymakers. Since these threats persist, however, the U.S. government must develop a cohesive strategy to prevent and counter-terrorist and violent extremist exploitation of ICTs. The approach should rest on the pillars of pragmatism, proportionality, and respect for the rule of law, and aim to disrupt terrorist and violent extremist networks in the digital sphere. To pursue this objective, the following brief calls for political leaders to create an interagency working group to formalize leadership and conduct a comprehensive assessment of terrorist and violent extremist abuse of ICTs. The evaluation must also weigh the costs and benefits associated with responses to these threats. Then, government officials should work to enhance the capability and coordination of government-led efforts, pursue partnerships with non-governmental entities, and facilitate productive engagements with the technology industry. In short, this approach would allow the government to use legislation, redress, and strategic outreach to empower more players to responsibly prevent and counter terrorist and violent extremist exploitation of ICTs.
Measuring the Impact of ISIS Social Media Strategy
2018 Alfifi, M., Kaghazgaran P., Caverlee, J., Morstatter F. Report
Terrorist groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have exploited social media such as Twitter to spread their propaganda and to recruit new members. In this work we study the extent to which ISIS is able to spread their message beyond their immediate supporters. Are they operating in their own sphere with limited interaction with the overall community? Or are they well rooted among normal users? We find that three-quarters of the interactions ISIS received on Twitter in 2015 actually came from eventually suspended accounts raising questions about the potential number of ISIS-related accounts and how organic ISIS audience is. Towards tackling these questions, we have created a unique dataset of 17 million ISIS-related tweets posted in 2015. This dataset is available for research purposes upon request.
A Large-Scale Study Of ISIS Social Media Strategy: Community Size, Collective Influence, And Behavioral Impact
2019 Alfifi, M., Kaghazgaran, P. and Caverlee, J. Article
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has received a tremendous amount of media coverage in the past few years for their successful use of social media to spread their message and to recruit new members. In this work, we leverage access to the full Twitter Firehose to perform a large-scale observational study of one year of ISIS social activity. We quantify the size of ISIS presence on Twitter, the potential amount of support it received, and its collective influence over time. We find that ISIS was able to gain a relatively limited portion from the total influence mass on Twitter and that this influence diminished over time. In addition, ISIS showed a tendency towards attracting interactions from
other similar pro-ISIS accounts, while inviting only a limited anti-ISIS sentiment. We find that 75% of the interactions ISIS received on Twitter in 2015 actually came from eventually suspended accounts and that only about 8% of the interactions they received were anti-ISIS. In addition, we have created a unique dataset of 17 million ISIS-related tweets posted in 2015 which we make available for research purposes upon request.
Cheering for Osama: How Jihadists Use Internet Discussion Forums
2010 Ali Musawi, M. Report
The key aims of this report are: To show how Jihadist movements use web forums to consolidate their existing followers and to recruit new ones; to illustrate how Jihadists, and their online supporters, use theology and ideology to justify their violent actions; and to suggest how western governments can better challenge the worldview and ideology propagated on these forums
Trans-mediatized terrorism: The Sydney Lindt Café siege
2018 Ali, S., Khattab, U. Article
This article presents an empirical analysis of the Australian media representation of terrorism using the 2014 Sydney Lindt Café siege as a case in point to engage with the notion of moral panic. Deploying critical discourse analysis and case study as mixed methods, insights into trans-media narratives and aftermath of the terrifying siege are presented. While news media appeared to collaborate with the Australian right-wing government in the reporting of terrorism, social media posed challenges and raised security concerns for the state. Social media heightened the drama as sites were variously deployed by the perpetrator, activists and concerned members of the public. The amplified trans-media association of Muslims with terrorism in Australia and its national and global impact, in terms of the political exclusion of Muslims, are best described in this article in the form of an Islamophobic Moral Panic Model, invented for a rethink of the various stages of its occurrence, intensification and institutionalization.
Psychology and morality of political extremists: evidence from Twitter language analysis of alt-right and Antifa
2019 Alizadeh, M., Weber, I., Cioffi-Revilla, C., Fortunato, S. and Macy, M. Article
The recent rise of the political extremism in Western countries has spurred renewed interest in the psychological and moral appeal of political extremism. Empirical support for the psychological explanation using surveys has been limited by lack of access to extremist groups, while field studies have missed psychological measures and failed to compare extremists with contrast groups. We revisit the debate over the psychological and moral appeal of extremism in the U.S. context by analyzing Twitter data of 10,000 political extremists and comparing their text-based psychological constructs with those of 5000 liberal and 5000 conservative users. The results reveal that extremists show a lower positive emotion and a higher negative emotion than partisan users, but their differences in certainty is not significant. In addition, while left-wing extremists express more language indicative of anxiety than liberals, right-wing extremists express lower anxiety than conservatives. Moreover, our results mostly lend support to Moral Foundations Theory for partisan users and extend it to the political extremists. With the exception of ingroup loyalty, we found evidences supporting the Moral Foundations Theory among left- and right-wing extremists. However, we found no evidence for elevated moral foundations among political extremists.
From Directorate of Intelligence to Directorate of Everything: The Islamic State’s Emergent Amni-Media Nexus
2019 Almohammad, A. and Winter, C. Article
This article, which is based on original interview data gathered from eastern Syria between January and October 2018, examines the emergent dominance of the Islamic State’s Directorate of General Security (DGS). We track how this institution, which is currently operating through a network of diwan-specific security offices grouped under the Unified Security Center (USC), has come to oversee and manage an increasingly wide array of the group’s insurgent activities—including intelligence and military operations and religious and managerial affairs. Focusing in particular on its role in the context of media production—which comprises anything from facilitation and security to monitoring, distribution and evaluation—we illustrate the critical importance of this most elusive directorate, positing that, in its current form, it could stand to facilitate the survival of the Islamic State for months—if not years—to come.
Decoding Hate: Using Experimental Text Analysis to Classify Terrorist Content
2020 Alrhmoun, A., Maher, S. and Winter, C. Report
This paper uses automated text analysis – the process by which unstructured text is extracted, organised and processed into a meaningful format – to develop tools capable of analysing
Islamic State (IS) propaganda at scale. Although we have used a static archive of IS material, the underlying principle is that these techniques can be deployed against content produced by any number of violent extremist movements in real‑time. This study therefore aims to complement work that looks at technology‑driven strategies employed by social media, video‑hosting and file‑sharing platforms to tackle violent extremist content disseminators.
Social media and counterterrorism strategy
2016 Alstrope, T. Article
With the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the issue of domestic radicalisation has taken on renewed significance for Western democracies. In particular, attention has been drawn to the potency of ISIS engagement on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Several governments have emphasised the importance of online programs aimed at undermining ISIS recruitment, including the use of state-run accounts on a variety of social media platforms to respond directly to ISIS messaging. This article assesses the viability of online counter radicalisation by examining the effectiveness of similar programs at the US State Department over the last decade. The article argues that
governments attempting to counter online radicalisation of their domestic populations must take seriously the significant shortcomings of these State Department programs. The most relevant issue in this regard is the recurring problem of credibility, when the authenticity of government information is undercut by the realities of foreign policy practice, and existing perceptions of hypocrisy and duplicity are reinforced in target audiences.
Populism, extremism and media: Mapping an uncertain terrain
2016 Alvares, C., Dahlgren, P. Article
Aiming to critically review key research on populism, extremism and media, this article examines some definition aspects of populism as a concept, its relation to ‘the people’ and points to future directions for research in mainstream – and social media – the terrain where so much of the political is played out. An individualisation of civic cultures has emerged in tandem with the growth of mediated populism through the use of new technologies, with a tendency towards personalisation in the public domain. While the new technological affordances exemplified by Web 2.0 may have contributed to intensified forms of popular engagement, they have been less successful in promoting democratic values, as shown by the results of the May 2014 European Parliamentary elections. Thus, the question as to the type of publics that are ‘possible and desirable in present circumstances’ (Nolan, 2008: 747) remains valid, for publics can espouse anti-democratic values while nevertheless remaining ‘publics’. The fact that the link between the new media and right-wing extremism has been comparatively explored at greater length than that of a religious bend indicates the need to invest in the latter, especially due to home-bred Islamic terrorism increasingly seen as threatening the multiculturalism of various European societies. Several avenues for research are presented to this effect, with a final reflection on the challenge posed by new media to the concept of media populism, both in terms of the Net’s market logics and the specificity of its architecture.
Freedom And The War On Terror In The Digital Age
2006 Alvarez, J.G.E. MA Thesis
Advances in Computer Science continue to provide more tools, each time more efficient, to aid us in our everyday lives with everything from work to entertainment, from health to management of natural resources. Technology has made our lives better and continues to facilitate progress. But just as it can benefit us, it is only a tool. That tool itself is not ‘good’ or ‘evil’; it is only useful to achieve the ends of those who utilize it. And just as it has been used for benefit, there have been cases where its use had a detrimental impact on us. Given the benefits, who is to deny that a government can keep track of its citizens in the same way a business keeps track of all its assets? The discussion here will center on this question, where we suspect that, given technological advances, governments are tempted to achieve this goal. The purpose is to present some of the policies that governments in North America and Europe have proposed and/or adopted with respect to technology and national security, and point out flaws that could allow the undue erosion of privacy and free speech in the electronic world as a consequence. We reflect upon those measures that seem unjustified and unnecessary even in the face of terrorism and argue that none of them include adequate safeguards to minimize the risk of abuse. We hope the reader will realize that none of the measures discussed admit that technology can accommodate the protection of civil liberties as well as security. We also argue that at least in Canada’s case, not counting academia and civil rights groups, policies, and laws introduced as a consequence of the events of 9/11 seem to receive little attention from the public at large. Citizens would appear to be unaware of what is being done to mitigate the terrorist threat. Indeed, amidst such legislative actions, we may be getting used to living in a permanent state of war. We hope our conclusions give an insight into the current landscape of privacy protection in North America and, to some extent, Europe.
'Waging War on the Ideological Battleground' Dr Anne Aly YouTube
2014 Aly, A. Lecture
Paper presented at Swansea University 2014: Terrorists' Use of the Internet (5th-6th June 2014) by Dr Anne Aly of Curtin University. Dr Daly's paper focuses on terroristic narratives and counter narratives online.
Introduction to the Special Issue: Terrorist Online Propaganda and Radicalization
2016 Aly, A., Macdonald, S., Jarvis, L. and Chen, T. Journal
The Internet is a transformative technology that terrorists are exploiting for the spread of propaganda and radicalizing new recruits. While al-Qaeda has a longer history, Islamic State is conducting a modern and sophisticated media campaign centered around online social networking. This article introduces and contextualizes the contributions to this Special Issue by examining some of the ways in which terrorists make use of the Internet as part of their broader media strategies.
Violent Extremism Online: New Perspectives on Terrorism and the Internet
2016 Aly, A., Macdonald, S., Jarvis, L. and Chen, T. Book
This book explores the interface between terrorism and the internet and presents contemporary approaches to understanding violent extremism online.
The volume focuses on four issues in particular: terrorist propaganda on the internet; radicalisation and the internet; counter campaigns and approaches to disrupting internet radicalisation; and approaches to researching and understanding the role of the internet in radicalisation. The book brings together expertise from a wide range of disciplines and geographical regions including Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. These contributions explore the various roles played by the Internet in radicalisation; the reasons why terroristic propaganda may or may not influence others to engage in violence; the role of political conflict in online radicalisation; and the future of research into terrorism and the internet. By covering this broad range of topics, the volume will make an important and timely addition to the current collections on a growing and international subject.

This book will be of much interest to students and researchers of cyber-security, internet politics, terrorism studies, media and communications studies, and International Relations.
Turning the Tap Off: The Impacts of Social Media Shutdown After Sri Lanka’s Easter Attacks
2020 Amarasingam, A. and Rizwie, R. Report
This report examines the social media shutdown in the wake of the Easter Attacks in Sri Lanka, and its impacts on journalists and post-incident communal violence. By highlighting the shutdown’s limitations, social costs and impact on misinformation, this report presents key recommendations for policy-makers, journalists and other key stakeholders. This report is part of a wider project, led by the International Centre for Counter- Terrorism (ICCT) – the Hague, and funded by the EU Devco on “Mitigating the Impact of Media Reporting of Terrorism”. This project aims to produce evidence-based guidance and capacity building outputs based on original, context-sensitive research into the risks and opportunities in media reporting of terrorism and terrorist incidents. The role of media reporting on terrorism has been under investigated and is an underutilised dimension of a holistic counter-terrorism strategy. How the media reports on terrorism has the potential to impact counter-terrorism (CT) perspective positively or negatively.
Association Between Time Spent Online and Vulnerability to Radicalization: An Empirical Study
2018 Amit, S., Islam, A, Md. Report
The aim of this research is to investigate the risk of online radicalization among young adults, particularly university-attending students, by relating their vulnerability to online radicalization with the amount of time they spend online. This research is an outcome of the “Building Resilient Universities Project” (BRUP), funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), a private non-profit, US-based organization, and implemented by the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB). The study adopts a quantitative research approach using a sample of 600 ULAB undergraduates. Analysis of data collected from students shows that the high-internet-user group, i.e., those who use the internet for seven hours or more a day, are more likely to find radical and religiously offensive material online; less likely to be influenced by family, faculty and community members; and have loweraccess to learning and knowledge resources that can render them resilient to radicalization. Therefore, it is posited that high-internet-user students are more vulnerable to online radicalization than others. The data also supports that high-internet-user males more vulnerable to online radicalization than females
Social media and radicalisation of university students in Bangladesh
2020 Amit, S., Rahman, I. and Mannan, S. Article
While there is growing research on radicalisation and its countermeasures, in the context of Bangladesh, there is a paucity of academic studies on the role of social media in the radicalisation of university students. This research addresses the gap by using survey data to examine the online behaviour and social media use of the university-going youth in Bangladesh. The study finds that there is very little distinction between accurate Islamic theological understandings and radical interpretations of Islam among university-going youth, and there is a proliferation of social media content that tell tales of subjugation of Muslims since the inception of Islam. Many (geopolitical) conflicts are seen by the youth as a continuation of the narrative of Western imperialism. The research identifies the core of the dissonance and argues that the idea of Muslim subjugation stems from sociocultural influences and is exacerbated by social media use.