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
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.
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.
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.
"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.
"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.
#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.
#IS_Fangirl: Exploring a New Role for Women in Terrorism
2016 Huey, 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
2016 West, 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
2016 West, 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
2018 Tierney, M. Article
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.
2015 Friis, 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
2018 Ribeiro,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.
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