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
Countering Violent Extremism via Desecuritisation on Twitter
2017Warrington, A.Journal
The case of a civil society actor on Twitter entering a securitized discourse on terrorism illustrates the transformative theoretical potential that emerges from new forms of communication online. Through a qualitative analysis of tweets from the Average Mohamed profile, the potential to change a negative narrative of violent extremism operating within a securitised discourse of Islamic terrorism, is discussed in an online context. The arguments forming from this analysis offers a new approach to studying online counter narratives by linking a theoretical framework of securitisation and de-securitisation to recent political efforts Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE). Through the inclusion of a civil society Twitter account as an illustrative case, this paper explores how social media can challenge existing assumptions of who can be a de-securitising actor within security theory by blurring the lines between political and societal sectors in a securitised threat from Islamic terrorism. If and how a civil society actor can loosen the dichotomous discursive relationship between Self/Other relations within a contemporary discourse on terrorism becomes relevant for a theoretical discussion by presenting an argument suggesting that online CVE polices are more effective within the sphere of ‘normal’ politics rather than within the realm of securitization. This theoretical perspective offers an analytical framework including a wide range of actors involved in counter narratives policies which is useful for further CVE research.
From al-Zarqawi to al-Awlaki: The Emergence and Development of an Online Radical Milieu
2012Conway, M.Journal
Radical milieus have been described as specific social environ¬ments whose culture, narratives, and symbols shape both individuals and groups, and the social networks and relationships out of which those individuals and groups develop and emerge. Researcher Peter Waldmann and his co-authors attribute distinct and independent qualities to these environments, portraying them as social entities in their own right, that is, a collective of people sharing certain perspectives and a unitary identity: a “subculture” or a “community.” This does not mean that conflict is absent between any given radical milieu and the violent extremist or terrorist group(s) that emerges from within it. Milieus have their own interests that lead them not just to interact with, but oftentimes to criticise and sometimes even confront their violent offshoots. Perhaps most importantly, Waldmann’s conception of radical milieus appears not merely to have social relationships as a core characteristic, but necessitates, implicitly or explicitly, face-to-face interaction amongst the members of any given milieu.
NYPD vs. Revolution Muslim: Te Inside Story of the Defeat of a Local Radicalization Hub
2018Morton, J. and Silber, M.Report
Between 2006 and 2012, two men working on opposite
sides of the struggle between global jihadis and the United
States faced of in New York City. One was the founder of
Revolution Muslim, a group which proselytized—online
and on New York streets—on behalf of al-Qa`ida. The
other led eforts to track the terrorist threat facing the
city. Here, they tell the inside story of the rise of Revolution
Muslim and how the NYPD, by using undercover ofcers
and other methods, put the most dangerous homegrown
jihadi support group to emerge on U.S. soil since 9/11
out of business. As the Islamic State adjusts to its loss of
territory, this case study provides lessons for current and
future counterterrorism investigations.
The Evolution of Online Extremism in Malaysia
2017Yasin, N.A.M.Journal
The apocalyptic narrative of the Syrian civil war promoted by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in 2014 had galvanised around a hundred radicals in Malaysia who subsequently migrated to Iraq and Syria. At least forty-five of them propagated their jihadist cause online resulting in the mushrooming of online extremism in the country. The growth spans over five years (2013-2017) in two phases, one led by Muhammad Lotfi Arifin’s network of online followers and the other by Muhammad Wanndy Muhammad Jedi’s online supporters and sympathizers. Lotfi and his network popularised the concept of ‘jihad’ from the perspective of militant groups, while Wanndy lured vulnerable online followers deeper into the later stages of violent radicalisation. The trajectory of Malaysia’s online violent radicalism from Lotfi to Wanndy was coincidental rather than deliberate, signifying the ‘funnel’ process of radicalisation. This process is synced with the terrorists’ switch from online public platforms to encrypted and private ones.
Tracking Online Radicalization Using Investigative Data Mining
2013Wadhwa, P. and Bhatia, M.P.S.Article
The increasing complexity and emergence of Web 2.0 applications have paved way for threats arising out of the use of social networks by cyber extremists (Radical groups). Radicalization (also called cyber extremism and cyber hate propaganda) is a growing concern to the society and also of great pertinence to governments & law enforcement agencies all across the world. Further, the dynamism of these groups adds another level of complexity in the domain, as with time, one may witness a change in members of the group and hence has motivated many researchers towards this field. This proposal presents an investigative data mining approach for detecting the dynamic behavior of these radical groups in online social networks by textual analysis of the messages posted by the members of these groups along with the application of techniques used in social network analysis. Some of the preliminary results obtained through partial implementation of the approach are also discussed.
"A View from the CT Foxhole: An Interview with Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Policy Manager, Facebook"
2017Cruickshank, P.Article
In our interview, Brian Fishman, Facebook’s Counterterrorism Policy Manager, provides a detailed
description of how Facebook is using artificial intelligence and a dedicated team of counterterrorism
specialists to remove terrorism content from its platform. Given the emergence of a new
generation of leadership within al-Qa`ida, it is critical to understand the evolving threat from the
group in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
"Linksextremismus im Internet", Extremismus in Deutschland
2004Reinhardt, A. and Reinhardt, B.Report
Die Autoren nehmen sich des Problems der Nutzung des Internets durch Linksextremisten an und analysieren die unterschiedlichen "Gesichter“ des linksextremismus im Internet.
#FailedRevolutions: Using Twitter to study the antecedents of ISIS support
2015Magdy, W., Darwish, K. and Weber, I.Article
Lately, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has managed to control large parts of Syria and Iraq. To better understand the roots of support for ISIS, we present a study using Twitter data. We collected a large number of Arabic tweets referring to ISIS and classified them as pro-ISIS or anti-ISIS. We then analyzed the historical timelines of both user groups and looked at their pre-ISIS period to gain insights into the antecedents of support. Also, we built a classifier to ‘predict’, in retrospect, who will support or oppose the group. We show that ISIS supporters largely differ from ISIS opposition in that the former referred a lot more to Arab Spring uprisings that failed than the latter.
#FailedRevolutions: Using Twitter to Study the Antecedents of ISIS Support
2015Magdy, W., Darwish, K., and Weber, I.Article
Within a fairly short amount of time, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has managed to put large swaths of land in Syria and Iraq under their control. To many observers, the sheer speed at which this "state" was established was dumbfounding. To better understand the roots of this organization and its supporters we present a study using data from Twitter. We start by collecting large amounts of Arabic tweets referring to ISIS and classify them into pro-ISIS and anti-ISIS. This classification turns out to be easily done simply using the name variants used to refer to the organization: the full name and the description as "state" is associated with support, whereas abbreviations usually indicate opposition. We then "go back in time" by analyzing the historic timelines of both users supporting and opposing and look at their pre-ISIS period to gain insights into the antecedents of support. To achieve this, we build a classifier using pre-ISIS data to "predict", in retrospect, who will support or oppose the group. The key story that emerges is one of frustration with failed Arab Spring revolutions. ISIS supporters largely differ from ISIS opposition in that they refer a lot more to Arab Spring uprisings that failed. We also find temporal patterns in the support and opposition which seems to be linked to major news, such as reported territorial gains, reports on gruesome acts of violence, and reports on airstrikes and foreign intervention.
#Greenbirds: Measuring Importance and Influence in Syrian Foreign Fighter Networks
2014Carter, J.A., Maher, S. and Neumann, P.R.Report
This is the first in a series of papers that draws on information from this database. It examines the question of how foreign fighters in Syria receive information about the conflict and who inspires them.
#IS_Fangirl: Exploring a New Role for Women in Terrorism
2016Huey, L. and Witmer, E.Article
In this paper we present initial results from an ongoing study of women affiliated with pro-IS networks on Twitter and other social media. Our particular focus is on 20 accounts belonging to individual identified as ‘fan girls.’ Drawing on an analysis of Twitter posts from these 20 accounts, we identify key characteristics of the fan girl in an attempt to bring conceptual clarity to this role and enhance our understanding of who these girls are and their potential for radicalization.
#jihad: Understanding Social Media as a Weapon
2016West, L.J.Journal
This article will argue that social media in the hands of terrorist groups constitutes a weapon, and has become increasingly capable of contributing to the facilitation of consequential harm against identified targets. In doing so it will first clarify the communicative nature of terrorist action and provide an overview of the various contributions made by jihadist strategists to the evolution of terrorist practice, and in particular the re-emergence of the practice of individual terrorism. It will then identify the intersection of individual terrorism and social media and the development and deployment of a system of social media jihad. 2 The article will explain the mechanisms by which terrorist groups exploit and deploy social media platforms, and inflict various harms, with a specific focus on individual and small cell terrorism in Western jurisdictions. Finally, a brief case study analysis of Anwar al-Awlaki will demonstrate the gravity with which governments have conceived of this problem, in part by highlighting the substantiveness of their responses.
#jihad: Understanding Social Media as a Weapon
2016West, L.J.Journal
This article will argue that social media in the hands of terrorist groups constitutes a weapon, and has become increasingly capable of contributing to the facilitation of consequential harm against identified targets. In doing so it will first clarify the communicative nature of terrorist action and provide an overview of the various contributions made by jihadist strategists to the evolution of terrorist practice, and in particular the re-emergence of the practice of individual terrorism. It will then identify the intersection of individual terrorism and social media and the development and deployment of a system of social media jihad. 2 The article will explain the mechanisms by which terrorist groups exploit and deploy social media platforms, and inflict various harms, with a specific focus on individual and small cell terrorism in Western jurisdictions. Finally, a brief case study analysis of Anwar al-Awlaki will demonstrate the gravity with which governments have conceived of this problem, in part by highlighting the substantiveness of their responses.
#TerroristFinancing: An Examination of Terrorism Financing via the Internet
2018Tierney, M.Journal
This article describes how the internet has come to play a central role in terrorist financing endeavours. Online channels allow terrorist financiers to network with like-minded individuals, in order to increase support, raise funds, and move wealth across the international system. For instance, the Islamic State, Hezbollah, and other groups have become adept at using these channels to finance their activities. Therefore, increased examination is required of the ways in which terrorists use the internet to raise and move funds. This study assesses some of the current trends and risks associated with online terrorist financing. Some policy options are also outlined, in order to reduce the threat of terrorist financing via the internet moving into the future.
'Beyond Anything We Have Ever Seen': Beheading Videos and the Visibility of Violence in the War against ISIS.
2015Friis, S.M.Journal
This article examines the role of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's (ISIS's) beheading videos in the United Kingdom and the United States. These videos are highly illustrative demonstrations of the importance of visual imagery and visual media in contemporary warfare. By functioning as evidence in a political discourse constituting ISIS as an imminent, exceptional threat to the West, the videos have played an important role in the re-framing of the conflict in Iraq and Syria from a humanitarian crisis requiring a humanitarian response to a national security issue requiring a military response and intensified counterterrorism efforts. However, this article seeks to problematize the role and status of ISIS's beheadings in American and British security discourses by highlighting the depoliticizing aspects of reducing a complicated conflict to a fragmented visual icon. The article concludes by emphasizing the need for further attention to how the visibility of war, and the constitution of boundaries between which acts of violence are rendered visible and which are not, shape the political terrain in which decisions about war and peace are produced and legitimized.
'Like Sheep Among Wolves': Characterizing Hateful Users on Twitter
2018Ribeiro,M.H., Calais, P.H., Santos, Y.A., Almeida, A.F., and Meira, W. Jr.Article
Hateful speech in Online Social Networks (OSNs) is a key challenge
for companies and governments, as it impacts users and advertisers,
and as several countries have strict legislation against the practice.
This has motivated work on detecting and characterizing the phenomenon
in tweets, social media posts and comments. However,
these approaches face several shortcomings due to the noisiness of
OSN data, the sparsity of the phenomenon, and the subjectivity of
the definition of hate speech. This works presents a user-centric
view of hate speech, paving the way for better detection methods
and understanding. We collect a Twitter dataset of 100, 386 users
along with up to 200 tweets from their timelines with a randomwalk-based
crawler on the retweet graph, and select a subsample
of 4, 972 to be manually annotated as hateful or not through crowdsourcing.
We examine the difference between user activity patterns,
the content disseminated between hateful and normal users, and
network centrality measurements in the sampled graph. Our results
show that hateful users have more recent account creation dates,
and more statuses, and followees per day. Additionally, they favorite
more tweets, tweet in shorter intervals and are more central in the
retweet network, contradicting the “lone wolf” stereotype often associated
with such behavior. Hateful users are more negative, more
profane, and use less words associated with topics such as hate,
terrorism, violence and anger. We also identify similarities between
hateful/normal users and their 1-neighborhood, suggesting strong
homophily.
'Sometimes You Just Have to Try Something' - A Critical Analysis of Danish State-Led Initiatives Countering Online Radicalisation
2018Warrington, A.Journal
This research paper argues that Danish online radicalisation policies are driven by logics of urgency (the threat is imminent) within a limited realm of discursive possibilities (the threat is securitised) which blur the lines between state and civil society as well as state and private sector interactions. Potential political implications bring into play questions about the democratic values that are perceived as safeguarded by these policies. The Danish case shows that we (as citizens, policy makers and researchers) must engage in further discussions on dynamics between the current threat perception of online radicalisation and policies addressing such a threat. My argument is constructed from a discourse analysis of official documents as of 2016-2017 on countering and preventing violent extremism and an analysis of the political logics driving a state-level conceptualisation of online radicalisation through interviews with government officials. The two-part analysis is theoretically based on Securitisation from the Copenhagen School in combination with Critical Terrorism Studies to create a critically inspired approach that remains within existing structures of Danish politics. This is done to engage with the current political landscape characterised by a securitisation of specific forms of online content associated with the Islamic State as an Other. Online radicalisation is herein constructed as a multidimensional threat towards a societal Self referring to the physical safety of citizens and a value based ‘way of life’. The decentralised structure of the internet allows communication flows that enable radicalisation to be understood as an inter-sectoral threat where multiple elements of the referent object are threatened simultaneously. This threat perception challenges government officials in developing and implementing policies to address the threat of the Other while safeguarding the democratic values of the Danish Self.
'The Call to Jihad The Role of Internet Preachers' Angela Gendron YouTube 360p
2014Gendron, A.Lecture
Angela Gendron of Carleton University at 'Swansea University's Symposium 2014: Terrorists' Use of the Internet' speaks on radicalisation and the role of internet preachers. Originally published on July 4, 2014 by CTProject
'Waging War on the Ideological Battleground' Dr Anne Aly YouTube
2014Aly, 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.
'Weighing the Role of the Internet in Past, Present, and Future Terrorism' Dr Maura Conway
2014Conway, M.Lecture
VOX-Pol Coordinator Dr Maura Conway discussing the role of the Internet in the past, the present & the future of terrorism, at the 2014 Symposium of Cyber Terrorism Project at Swansea University.
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