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
Terrorism, Violent Extremism, and the Internet: Free Speech Considerations
2019 Killion, V. L. Report
Recent acts of terrorism and hate crimes have prompted a renewed focus on the possible links between internet content and offline violence. While some have focused on the role that social media companies play in moderating user-generated content, others have called for Congress to pass laws regulating online content promoting terrorism or violence. Proposals related to government action of this nature raise significant free speech questions, including (1) the reach of the First Amendment’s protections when it comes to foreign nationals posting online content from abroad; (2) the scope of so-called “unprotected” categories of speech developed long before the advent of the internet; and (3) the judicial standards that limit how the government can craft or enforce laws to preserve national security and prevent violence.
Terrorisme i Cyberspace: Udfordringer ved Organisering og Udførelse af Politisk Vold Online
2015 Teglskov Jacobsen, J. Article
Internettet præsenteres ofte som et farligt redskab i hænderne på terrorister. Det er dog ikke nødvendigvis sandheden. Artiklen trækker på indsigter fra studier af sunniekstremistiske grupper, Anders B. Breivik og Anonymous og diskuterer terroristers anvendelse af internettet i organiseringen og udførelsen af terrorisme. Jeg vil argumentere for, at det anarkiske og anonyme internet fører mistillid og fragmentering med sig, hvilket gør det sværere for grupper at opretholde en fælles strategi og det fælles fjendebillede. Artiklen styrker derfor fortællingen om, at det hovedsageligt er ekskluderede og socialt marginaliserede enspændere, der ender med at planlægge voldshandlinger i isolation bag computerskærmen. I forlængelse heraf vil jeg pege på, at hovedparten af potentielle terrorister drages af fysisk interaktion,
våben og eksplosioner – og ikke udviklingen af komplekse cybervåben.
Terrorist Communications: Are Facebook, Twitter, and Google Responsible for the Islamic State’s Actions?
2017 Softness, N. Article
Four of the world’s largest Internet companies pledged to monitor, combat, and prevent terrorists from using their social media platforms to conduct operations in May 2016. One month later, Twitter, Facebook, and Google were sued for deaths caused by the Islamic State in 2015, and their alleged allowance and facilitation of terrorist communication. A growing demand for responsible and accountable online governance calls into question the global norms of cybersecurity and jurisdiction, and the very definition of terrorism. This paper explores the legislative precedent for countering terrorist communications, including the evolution of the First Amendment, communications and information law, and limitations governed by public opinion. Using legal trajectories to analyze aspects of monitoring and censorship in both past and current counterterrorism strategies, evidence of the future cyber landscape becomes clear. Cyber norms will imminently and inevitably depend on public-private partnerships, with liability split between the government and the private companies that control the majority of the world’s information flows. It is imperative for actors to identify each sector’s competing and corollary priorities, as well as their legal and normative restrictions, to form partnerships that can survive the unpredictable court of public opinion and provide sustainable counterterrorism solutions.
Terrorist Financing and the Internet
2010 Jacobson, M. Journal
While al Qaeda has used the Internet primarily to spread its propaganda and to rally new recruits, the terrorist group has also relied on the Internet for financing-related purposes. Other Islamist terrorist groups, including Hamas, Lashkar e-Taiba, and Hizballah have also made extensive use of the Internet to raise and transfer needed funds to support their activities. The Internet's appeal in this regard for terrorist groups is readily apparent–offering a broad reach, timely efficiency, as well as a certain degree of anonymity and security for both donors and recipients. Unfortunately, while many governments now recognize that the Internet is an increasingly valuable tool for terrorist organizations, the response to this point has been inconsistent. For the U.S. and its allies to effectively counter this dangerous trend, they will have to prioritize their efforts in this area in the years to come.
Terrorist Migration to the Dark Web
2016 Weimann, G. Journal
The terms Deep Web, Deep Net, Invisible Web, or Dark Web refer to the content on the World Wide Web that is not indexed by standard search engines. The deepest layers of the Deep Web, a segment known as the Dark Web, contain content that has been intentionally concealed including illegal and anti-social information. The conventional Surface Web was discovered to be too risky for anonymity-seeking terrorists: they could be monitored, traced, and found. In contrast, on the Dark Web, decentralized and anonymous networks aid in evading arrest and the closure of these terrorist platforms. This paper reports some of the recent trends in terrorist use of the Dark Web for communication, fundraising, storing information and online material.
Terrorist Use of Internet: Possible Suggestions to Prevent the Usage for Terrorist Purposes
2012 Nesip Ogun, M. Journal
As new developments occur everyday in technology, terrorists are easily adjusting themselves to this change. In this new age of terrorism, terrorism is transnational, institutionalized, technologically advanced, and global. In this respect, today's terrorist organizations are using the Internet for different purposes. The Internet has become the new and main source of communication in terms of disseminating propaganda for terrorist activities. Almost all terrorist organizations are exploiting the Internet for their terrorist purposes and broadcasting propaganda through their Web sites. This study is focused on the exploitation of Internet by terrorist organizations for their activities and as a case study interviews were conducted to find out the solutions to overcome terrorist networks in terms of terrorist use of Internet. Terrorism in general, Internet, and propaganda terms were studied and some solutions were proposed in terms of Internet usage of terrorist organizations.
Terrorist Use of the Internet and the Challenges of Governing Cyberspace
2007 Conway, M. Chapter
Chapter: "Terrorism, the Internet, and international relations: the governance conundrum", in: Dunn Cavelty, Myriam and Mauer, Victor and Krishna-Hensel, Sai Felicia, (eds.) Power and Security in the Information Age: Investigating the Role of the State in Cyberspace.
Terrorist Use of the Internet by the Numbers
2017 Gill et. al Journal
Public interest and policy debates surrounding the role of the Internet in terrorist activities is increasing. Criminology has said very little on the matter. By using a unique data set of 223 convicted United Kingdom–based terrorists, this article focuses on how they used the Internet in the commission of their crimes. As most samples of terrorist offenders vary in terms of capabilities (lone-actor vs. group offenders) and criminal sophistication (improvised explosive devices vs. stabbings), we tested whether the affordances they sought from the Internet significantly differed. The results suggest that extreme-right-wing individuals, those who planned an attack (as opposed to merely providing material support), conducted a lethal attack, committed an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, committed an armed assault, acted within a cell, attempted to recruit others, and engaged in nonvirtual network activities and nonvirtual place interactions were significantly more likely to learn online compared with those who did not engage in these behaviors. Those undertaking unarmed assaults were significantly less likely to display online learning. The results also suggested that extreme-right-wing individuals who perpetrated an IED attack, associated with a wider network, attempted to recruit others, and engaged in nonvirtual network activities and nonvirtual place interactions were significantly more likely to communicate online with co-ideologues.
Terrorist Use of the Internet by the Numbers: Quantifying Behaviors, Patterns, and Processes
2017 Gill, P., Corner, E., Conway, M., Thornton, A., Bloom, M. and Horgan, J. VOX-Pol Publication
Public interest and policy debates surrounding the role of the Internet in terrorist activities is increasing. Criminology has said very little on the matter. By using a unique data set of 223 convicted United Kingdom–based terrorists, this article focuses on how they used the Internet in the commission of their crimes. As most samples of terrorist offenders vary in terms of capabilities (lone-actor vs. group offenders) and criminal sophistication (improvised explosive devices vs. stabbings), we tested whether the affordances they sought from the Internet significantly differed. The results suggest that extreme-right-wing individuals, those who planned an attack (as opposed to merely providing material support), conducted a lethal attack, committed an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, committed an armed assault, acted within a cell, attempted to recruit others, and engaged in non-virtual network activities and non-virtual place interactions were significantly more likely to learn online compared with those who did not engage in these behaviours. Those undertaking unarmed assaults were significantly less likely to display online learning. The results also suggested that extreme-right-wing individuals who perpetrated an IED attack, associated with a wider network, attempted to recruit others, and engaged in non-virtual network activities and non-virtual place interactions were significantly more likely to communicate online with co-ideologues.

This article is a revised and updated version of the 2015 VOX-Pol report 'What are the Roles of the Internet In Terrorism? Measuring Online Behaviors of Convicted UK Terrorists.'
Terrorist Use of Virtual Currencies
2017 Goldman, Z., Maruyama, E., Rosenberg, E., Saravalle, E. and Solomon-Strauss, J. Report
This paper explores the risk that virtual currencies (VCs) may become involved in the financing of terrorism at a significant scale. VCs and asso-
ciated technologies hold great promise for low cost, high speed, verified transactions that can unite coun- terparties around the world. For this reason they could appear appealing to terrorist groups (as they are at present to cybercriminals). Currently, however, there is no more than anecdotal evidence that terrorist groups have used virtual currencies to support themselves. Terrorists in the Gaza Strip have used virtual currencies to fund operations, and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) members and supporters have been particularly receptive to the new technology, with recorded uses in Indonesia and the United States.

Most terrorist funding now occurs through traditional methods such as the hawala system, an often informal and cash-based money transfer mechanism, and estab- lished financial channels.1 If VCs become sufficiently liquid and easily convertible, however, and if terrorist groups in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa obtain the kinds of technical infra- structure needed to support VC activity, then the threat may become more significant. The task of the law enforcement, intelligence, regu- latory, and financial services communities, therefore, must be to prevent terrorist groups from using VCs at scale. The use of VCs by “lone wolf ” terrorists—a much bigger potential threat because of the small scales of funding needed to execute an attack—represents the kind of problem in intelligence and digital forensics that law enforcement agencies are well equipped to handle, even if they tax existing resources.

Attacking terrorists’ use of virtual currency at scale is a challenging task for many stakeholders. New finan- cial technology firms often lack the resources to comply effectively with oversight obligations, while regulators have tended to devote few resources to non-bank institu- tions. At the same time, different countries have adopted varying approaches to the regulation of virtual curren- cies, posing an enforcement challenge in a globalized field that requires a unified response. Finally, the privi- leging of prevention over management of illicit finance risk in the compliance world has created an incentive structure for banks that does not, ironically, push them toward innovative approaches to countering terrorist financing, including via virtual currencies.

The counterterrorist financing community should adopt three guiding principles that will provide the foundation for policies aimed at countering both the new virtual currency threat and the broader illicit finance danger. First, policy leaders should prioritize the coun- tering of terrorist financing over other kinds of financial crime. Second, the policy and regulatory posture should be oriented toward rewarding and incentivizing innova- tion. Third, policymakers should emphasize and create a practical basis for strengthening coordination between the public and private sectors on terrorist financing. These approaches form the foundation of an effective response to existing and emerging terrorist financing threats and will balance the burden of regulatory com- pliance with the policy need to support innovative new virtual currency technologies.
Terrorist Web Sites: Their Contents, Functioning, and Effectiveness
2005 Conway, M. Chapter
This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive version of this piece may be found in New Media and the New Middle East by Philip Seib which can be purchased from www.palgrave.com
Terrorist ‘Radicalising Networks’: A Qualitative Case Study on Radical Right Lone-Wolf Terrorism
2017 Feldman, M. Book
The threat posed by terrorism today is changing rapidly—as have methods of study of this phenomenon, including analysis of radicalisation and the ‘terrorist cycle’. This chapter takes a qualitative approach to one aspect of contemporary terrorism, self-directed (‘lone wolf’) terrorism by right-wing extremists. Predominately plaguing the USA at first, solo actor terrorism by fascist extremists crossed the Atlantic in 1999 with David Copeland’s attacks in London, and most horrifically with Anders Behring Breivik’s murder of 77 people in Oslo and Utøya in 2011. Like these two terrorist murderers, the two case studies discussed here, Neil Lewington and Ian Davison, were also radicalised online through ‘passive’ and ‘active’ networks of support. Although interdicted before committing acts of terrorism, the different pathways of online radicalisation by Lexington and Davison are the central subject here.
Terrorists And Cyberspace: The Digital Battleground
2018 Urena Figueroa, A.M. MA Thesis
This thesis asks why and how terrorist organizations use the Internet to achieve three strategic goals: 1) the dissemination of propaganda, 2) recruitment and 3) fundraising. It is immediately apparent that the Internet offers a number of advantages, including low cost, global reach, and anonymity. Nonetheless, terrorist organizations vary in their exploitation of these advantages according to their immediate objectives. To explain these variations, this thesis presents a comparative study of Al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Taliban. This study considers how different objectives render distinct narratives and thereby affect how those narratives leverage images and information in the dissemination of propaganda. Similarly, targets of recruitment vary according to the objectives of the respective organizations; this primarily affects their use of social media, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and other applications. Fundraising methods also vary, from local means (extortion, narcotics, smuggling) to contemporary exploitation of digital platforms like PayPal and cell phone applications enabling anonymous donations. This thesis concludes that the sophistication of terrorist organizations online requires an equally sophisticated response that is as essential to the fight against violent extremism as kinetic operations.
Terrorists’ Use of the Internet
2017 Conway, M., Jarvis, L., Lehane, O., Macdonald, S. and Nouri, L. Book
Terrorist use of the Internet has become a focus of media, policy, and scholarly attention in recent years. Terrorists use the Internet in a variety of ways, the most important being for propaganda purposes and operations-related content, but it is also potentially a means or target of attack. This book presents revised versions of a selection of papers delivered at the NATO Advanced Research Workshop (ARW) on ‘Terrorists’ Use of the Internet’ held in Dublin, Ireland in June 2016. One aim of the workshop was to nurture dialogue between members of the academic, policy and practitioner communities, so the 60 delegates from 13 countries who attended the workshop included representatives from each of these. The participants encompassed a wide range of expertise (including engineering, computer science, law, criminology, political science, international relations, history, and linguistics) and the chapters contained herein reflect these diverse professional and disciplinary backgrounds. The workshop also aimed to address the convergence of threats. Following an introduction which provides an overview of the various ways in which terrorists use the Internet, the book’s remaining 25 chapters are grouped into 5 sections on cyber terrorism and critical infrastructure protection; cyber-enabled terrorist financing; jihadi online propaganda; online counterterrorism; and innovative approaches and responses. The book will be of interest to all those who need to maintain an awareness of the ways in which terrorists use the Internet and require an insight into how the threats posed by this use can be countered.
Terrorists’ Use of the Internet: Assessment and Response
2016 Conway, M., Macdonald, S., and Mair, D. Report
This report contains findings from the Advanced Research Workshop supported by the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme on terrorists’ use of the Internet, held at Dublin City University on 27th-29th June 2016. The event was co-organised by the Cyberterrorism Project and the VOX-POL Network of Excellence. The workshop consisted of a total of 31 presentations, followed by a roundtable discussion during which participants formulated a set of recommendations. 60 delegates attended the symposium, from 13 different countries, including researchers and representatives from NATO HQ, NATO CCD-COE, UNICRI, the European Defence Agency, the Bavarian Police Academy and the Italian Carabinieri. This report provides summaries of each of the presentations and presents the workshop’s final recommendations.
Testimony, U.S. House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Jihadist Use of Social Media: How to Prevent Terrorism and Preserve Innovation
2011 McCants, W. Report
On Tuesday, December 6, 2011 the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence will hold a hearing entitled "Jihadist Use of Social Media – How to Prevent Terrorism and Preserve Innovation."
The 60 Days of PVE Campaign: Lessons on Organizing an Online, Peer-to-Peer, Counter-radicalization Program
2017 Wilner, A., and Rigato, B. Article
Combatting violent extremism can involve organizing Peer-to-Peer (P2P)
preventing violent extremism (PVE) programs and social media campaigns. While
hundreds of PVE campaigns have been launched around the world in recent
months and years, very few of these campaigns have actually been reviewed,
analyzed, or assessed in any systematic way. Metrics of success and failure have
yet to be fully developed, and very little is publically known as to what might
differentiate a great and successful P2P campaign from a mediocre one. This
article will provide first-hand insight on orchestrating a publically funded,
university-based, online, peer-to-peer PVE campaign – 60 Days of PVE – based
on the experience of a group of Canadian graduate students. The article provides
an account of the group’s approach to PVE. It highlights the entirety of the
group’s campaign, from theory and conceptualization to branding, media strategy,
and evaluation, and describes the campaign’s core objectives and implementation.
The article also analyzes the campaign’s digital footprint and reach using data
gleamed from social media. Finally, the article discusses the challenges and
difficulties the group faced in running their campaign, lessons that are pertinent
for others contemplating a similar endeavour.
The Advocacy of Terrorism on the Internet: Freedom of Speech Issues and the Material Support Statutes
2016 Ruane, KA. Report
The development of the Internet has revolutionized communications. It has never been easier to speak to wide audiences or to communicate with people that may be located more than half a world away from the speaker. However, like any neutral platform, the Internet can be used to many different ends, including illegal, offensive, or dangerous purposes. Terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State (IS, also referred to as ISIS or ISIL), Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Al Shabaab, use the Internet to disseminate their ideology, to recruit new members, and to take credit for attacks around the world. In addition, some people who are not members of these groups may view this content and could begin to sympathize with or to adhere to the violent philosophies these groups advocate. They might even act on these beliefs. Several U.S. policymakers, including some Members of Congress, have expressed concern about the influence that terrorist advocacy may have upon those who view or read it. The ease with which such speech may be disseminated over the Internet, using popular social media services, has been highlighted by some observers as potentially increasing the ease by which persons who might otherwise have not been exposed to the ideology or recruitment efforts of terrorist entities may become radicalized. These concerns raise the question of whether it would be permissible for the federal government to restrict or prohibit the publication and distribution of speech that advocates the commission of terrorist acts when that speech appears on the Internet. Significant First Amendment freedom of speech issues are raised by the prospect of government restrictions on the publication and distribution of speech, even speech that advocates terrorism. This report discusses relevant precedent concerning the extent to which advocacy of terrorism may be restricted in a manner consistent with the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech Clause. The report also discusses the potential application of the federal ban on the provision of material support to foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) to the advocacy of terrorism, including as it relates to the dissemination of such advocacy via online services like Twitter or Facebook.
The Affinity Between Online and Offline Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: Dynamics and Impacts
2016 Awan, I. and Zempi, I. Journal
Following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Tunisia in 2015, and in Woolwich, south-east London where British Army soldier Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered in 2013, there has seen a significant increase in anti-Muslim attacks. These incidents have occurred offline where mosques have been vandalized, Muslim women have had their hijab (headscarf) or niqab (face veil) pulled off, Muslim men have been attacked, and racist graffiti has been scrawled against Muslim properties. Concurrently, there has been a spike in anti-Muslim hostility online, where Muslims have been targeted by campaigns of cyber bullying, cyber harassment, cyber incitement, and threats of offline violence. Against this background, we examine the nature and impacts of online and offline anti-Muslim hate crime. We draw on our different experiences of conducting research on anti-Muslim hate crime, using two independent research projects in order to consider the affinity between online and offline anti-Muslim hate crime. We argue that, in reality, online/offline boundaries may be more blurred than the terms imply. For victims, it is often difficult to isolate the online threats from the intimidation, violence, and abuse that they suffer offline. Moreover, victims often live in fear because of the possibility of online threats materializing in the “real world.” We conclude that there is a continuity of anti-Muslim hostility in both the virtual and the physical world, especially in the globalized world.
The Al-Qaeda Media Nexus: The Virtual Network Behind the Global Message
2008 Kimmage, D. Report
This brief study surveys a representative sample of Arabic- language jihadist* media from July 2007 and attempts to answer two simple, yet crucial, questions: What does the structure of jihadist media tell us about the relationship between Al-Qaeda central and the movements that affiliate themselves with it? And what can the priorities of jihadist media tell us about the operational priorities of Al-Qaeda and affiliated movements?