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

Australian Measures to Counter Violent Extremism Online: A Comparative Perspective on Far-Right and Jihadist Content
2020 Richards, I. Chapter
This chapter illustrates that online and offline measures to counter violent extremism in Australia have targeted jihadism over other forms of extremism. With attention to the open and intensifying state of far-right extremism in Australia, it advocates for increased attention to this situation. It contends that, given the recursive nature of online extremism and its political and international dimensions, material disseminated by far-right and jihadist groups should be addressed from a comparative perspective.
Countering Violent Extremism via Desecuritisation on Twitter
2017 Warrington, A. Article
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.
Digitalization and Political Extremism
2022 Karacuka, M., Inke, H. and Haucap, J. Chapter
Information and communication technologies shape, direct, and deter political behaviour and institutions as the increase in internet usage regulate our daily lives. The advance of internet and digital media also shape political involvement, partisanship, and ideology. Internet, as the new media, is an important information source that shapes political behaviour along with other effects on societal layers. The new technologies provide a platform for the voices of minorities and disadvantaged communities, therefore urging a pluralist agenda. They are also blamed for the recent rise of populism and polarisation by creating echo-chambers, filter-bubbles, and the “fake news.” In this study, the authors analyse the possible effects of internet usage on political polarisation and ideological extremism by utilising World Values Survey Wave 7 Data for 40 countries. The findings show that internet usage and education level decrease extremism, while safety, work anxiety, and religiosity drive people to the extreme.
From al-Zarqawi to al-Awlaki: The Emergence and Development of an Online Radical Milieu
2012 Conway, 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.
From solidarity to blame game: A computational approach to comparing far-right and general public Twitter discourse in the aftermath of the Hanau terror attack
2022 Hohner, J., Schulze, H., Greipl, S. and Rieger, D. Article
Terror attacks are followed by public shock and disorientation. Previous research has found that people use social media to collectively negotiate responses, interpretations, and sense-making in the aftermath of terror attacks. However, the role of ideologically motivated discussions and their relevance to the overall discourse have not been studied. This paper ad-dresses this gap and focuses specifically on the far-right discourse, comparing it to the general public Twitter discourse following the terror attack in Hanau in 2020. A multi-method ap-proach combines network analysis and structural topic modelling to analyse 237,000 tweets. We find responsibility attribution to be one of the central themes: The general discourse pri-marily voiced sympathy with the victims and attributed responsibility for the attack to far-right terror or activism. In contrast, the far right – in an attempt to reshape the general narra-tive – raised a plethora of arguments to shift the attribution of responsibility from far-right activism towards the (political) elite and the personal circumstances of the shooter. In terms of information sharing and seeking, we demonstrate that new information was contextualised differentially depending on the ideological stance. The results are situated in the scientific dis-course concerning differences in social media communication ensuing terrorist attacks.
NYPD vs. Revolution Muslim: Te Inside Story of the Defeat of a Local Radicalization Hub
2018 Morton, J. and Silber, M. Article
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
2017 Yasin, 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
2013 Wadhwa, 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.
Zoom-ing in on White Supremacy: Zoom-Bombing Anti-Racism Efforts
2021 Ali, K. Article
I am interested in contributing further knowledge regarding the alt-right, white supremacy, and the Internet by exploring the sinister conducting of Zoom-bombing anti-racist events. Here, I will investigate how white supremacy through the Internet can lead to violence, abuse, and fear that “transcends the virtual world to damage real, live humans beings” via Zoom-bombing, an act that is situated in a larger co-option of the Internet by the alt-right and white supremacists, but has been under theorised as a hate crime.
"A View from the CT Foxhole: An Interview with Brian Fishman, Counterterrorism Policy Manager, Facebook"
2017 Cruickshank, 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
2004 Reinhardt, 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.
"Pine Tree" Twitter and the Shifting Ideological Foundations of Eco-Extremism
2019 Hughes, B. Report
Eco-fascism is emerging at both the highest levels of state and the lowest reaches of the political underworld. However, this may be only part of a much larger, more idealogically complex, emerging extremist threat. The climate crisis--and the crisis of global financial capitalism from which it is inextricable--may yet be driving a realignment of extremist environmental politics. An exploratory analysis of radical environmentalist discourse on the Twitter platform reveals the emergence of an ecological extremism that confounds contemporary understandings of the left, right, authoritarian and liberal. If this represents the future of eco-extremism, it may be necessary for researchers and practitioners to reorient the frameworks that guide their assessment of emerging risks.
"Short is the Road that Leads from Fear to Hate": Fear Speech in Indian WhatsApp Groups
2021 Saha, P., Mathew, B., Garimella, K. and Mukherjee, A. Article
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in the world. Due to its popularity, WhatsApp has become a powerful and cheap tool for political campaigning being widely used during the 2019 Indian general election, where it was used to connect to the voters on a large scale. Along with the campaigning, there have been reports that WhatsApp has also become a breeding ground for harmful speech against various protected groups and religious minorities. Many such messages attempt to instil fear among the population about a specific (minority) community. According to research on inter-group conflict, such `fear speech' messages could have a lasting impact and might lead to real offline violence. In this paper, we perform the first large scale study on fear speech across thousands of public WhatsApp groups discussing politics in India. We curate a new dataset and try to characterize fear speech from this dataset. We observe that users writing fear speech messages use various events and symbols to create the illusion of fear among the reader about a target community. We build models to classify fear speech and observe that current state-of-the-art NLP models do not perform well at this task. Fear speech messages tend to spread faster and could potentially go undetected by classifiers built to detect traditional toxic speech due to their low toxic nature. Finally, using a novel methodology to target users with Facebook ads, we conduct a survey among the users of these WhatsApp groups to understand the types of users who consume and share fear speech. We believe that this work opens up new research questions that are very different from tackling hate speech which the research community has been traditionally involved in.
"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.
"The Lions Of Tomorrow": A News Value Analysis Of Child Images In Jihadi Magazines
2018 Watkin, A. and Looney, S. Article
This article reports and discusses the results of a study that investigated photographic images of children in five online terrorist magazines to understand the roles of children in these groups. The analysis encompasses issues of Inspire, Dabiq, Jihad Recollections (JR), Azan, and Gaidi Mtanni (GM) from 2009 to 2016. The total number of images was ninety-four. A news value framework was applied that systematically investigated what values the images held that resulted in them being “newsworthy” enough to be published. This article discusses the key findings, which were that Dabiq distinguished different roles for boys and girls, portrayed fierce and prestigious boy child perpetrators, and children flourishing under the caliphate; Inspire and Azan focused on portraying children as victims of Western-backed warfare; GM portrayed children supporting the cause peacefully; and JR contained no re-occurring findings.
#FailedRevolutions: Using Twitter to study the antecedents of ISIS support
2015 Magdy, 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
2015 Magdy, 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
2014 Carter, 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.
#Hamas: A Thematic Exploration of Hamas’s English-Language Twitter
2020 Margolin, D. Article
As the debate on whether Hamas should be designated a terrorist organization intensifies across Europe and North America, policymakers and practitioners seek to identify the core principles that unify the group and its ideology. This paper contributes to this discussion by examining how Hamas uses Twitter to frame its narrative to English-speakers around the world. From March 2015 until November 2019, when its account was suspended from Twitter, Hamas operated an English-language Twitter handle under the name @HamasInfoEn. Using thematic content analysis to explore the first 2,848 tweets sent by Hamas in English—between March 2015 and March 2018—this paper explores the socio-political and religious narratives that lay at the core of Hamas’s online public diplomacy throughout its first three years on Twitter. Since its entrance into politics in 2006, some academics argue that Hamas has increasingly sought to distance itself from acts of terrorism and legitimize its actions as a governing actor, thereby seeking to carve out a place for itself in the international community. This study presents a nuanced understanding of how Hamas represents itself internationally, to better understand where the group is going, and how to best counter its narratives.
#IslamicState: An Analysis Of Tweets In Support Of ISIS After The November 2015 Attacks In Paris
2018 Guthrie, A.R. MA Thesis
With the popularity and ease of using social media platforms, users are able to, in varying capacities, connect with others in varying capacities. During 2015, there were approximately 305 million worldwide active monthly Twitter users. While Twitter has maintained implementation of their counter-extremism policies, supporters of ISIS have found ways to navigate around them and continue to use their platform as a means to connect with others. With 140 characters per Tweet, ISIS supporters are able to recruit and promote propaganda quickly with users around the world. By using a data set containing 16,841 Tweets from 104 ISIS supporters following the November 2015 attacks in Paris, content analysis will be conducted on the tweet itself to look for reoccurring themes and keywords. By understanding the keywords and reoccurring themes, military, law enforcement, and private sector counterterrorism units can better understand and implement policies and procedures relating to ISIS and the ways that they continuously navigate around the counter-extremism policies on Twitter.
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