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

The Threat of Terrorist and Violent Extremist Operated Websites
2022 Tech Against Terrorism Report
A new report from Tech Against Terrorism has found that global terrorist and violent extremist actors are running at least 198 websites on the surface web. In-depth analysis of 33 of the most prominent websites – run by actors such as Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Atomwaffen Division and the Taliban – confirms that these sites have 1.54 million monthly visitors, with the majority of visits coming from Algeria, Pakistan, United States, and the United Kingdom.
The Representational Strategies of Lionization and Victimization in ISIS’s Online Magazine, Dabiq
2022 Rasoulikolamaki, S. and Kaur, S. Article
This paper is a multimodal critical discourse study of self-representation in ISIS’s e-magazine, Dabiq, employing Social Movement Theory and Van Leeuwen’s Socio-semantic Inventory. By analyzing the linguistic and non-linguistic features in the representation of social actors and actions in Dabiq, ISIS’s implied ideology at the macro level, which is to convince the prospective recruits and at the same time, to legitimize its brutality, is revealed from both textual and visual perspectives. The results showed an interplay of the contradictory representational choices, namely “lionization” and “victimization” that has enabled ISIS to create a powerful narrative. By portraying its so-called “knights” as undefeatable lions and glorifying their acts of violence, while, excluding its killed, injured or imprisoned agents both textually and visually, ISIS has attempted to provoke admiration among its current or potential followers. Significantly, they simultaneously depict an air of victimhood to further legitimize their act of terror and represent themselves as the godsent saviours of the victims, and confer a sense of security in their hearts. Victimization, however, has rarely been applied to the Mujahidin of the State who are fighting at forefronts, but rather to the State itself as a territory (Caliphate) and to the Muslims who are presumably plagued by the enemies’ transgression and injustice.
Cannibalizing the Constitution: On Terrorism, the Second Amendment, and the Threat to Civil Liberties
2022 LaGuardia, F. Article
This article explores the links between internet radicalization, access to weapons, and the current threat from terrorists who have been radicalized online. The prevalence of domestic terrorism, domestic hate groups, and online incitement and radicalization have led to considerable focus on the tension between counterterror efforts and the First Amendment. Many scholars recommend rethinking the extent of First Amendment protection, as well as Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendment protections, and some judges appear to be listening. Yet the Second Amendment has avoided this consideration, despite the fact that easy access to weapons is a necessary ingredient for the level of threat posed by online incitement. This article clarifies the way these civil liberties interact to create the threat, suggesting that pro-democracy rights such as protections on speech and privacy should not bear all the burden of compromise for the sake of protection from terrorism.
Manipulating Access To Communication Technology: Government Repression or Counterterrorism?
2022 Mustafa, F. Report
This report offers a preliminary analysis of the effectiveness of network disruptions in achieving one specific outcome: tackling terrorist violence. It analyses the relationship between network disruptions and deaths and injuries from terrorist attacks to determine whether there is support for the commonly made argument that network disruptions are an important counterterrorism tactic. Using a panel dataset of daily incidents of national-level network disruptions and terrorist attacks globally between 2016 and 2019, a fixed effects regression model shows that national-level network disruptions are not correlated with the number of people killed or injured in terrorist attacks. In addition, there is no correlation between a ban on social media platforms – specifically Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp – and deaths or injuries from terrorist violence. This analysis has some limitations that make it difficult to make a causal claim, such as the non-random assignment of the treatment (that is, network disruptions) and the absence of a control variable to capture increased security around network disruptions. In general, these findings offer another perspective on the debate on network shutdowns, which often centres on the implications of shutdowns for human rights and democratic engagement and does not typically delve into empirical evidence on what network shutdowns can or cannot accomplish.
A survey on extremism analysis using natural language processing: definitions, literature review, trends and challenges
2022 Torregrosa, J., Bello-Orgaz, G., Martínez-Cámara, E., Ser, J.D. and Camacho, D. Article
Extremism has grown as a global problem for society in recent years, especially after the apparition of movements such as jihadism. This and other extremist groups have taken advantage of different approaches, such as the use of Social Media, to spread their ideology, promote their acts and recruit followers. The extremist discourse, therefore, is reflected on the language used by these groups. Natural language processing (NLP) provides a way of detecting this type of content, and several authors make use of it to describe and discriminate the discourse held by these groups, with the final objective of detecting and preventing its spread. Following this approach, this survey aims to review the contributions of NLP to the field of extremism research, providing the reader with a comprehensive picture of the state of the art of this research area. The content includes a first conceptualization of the term extremism, the elements that compose an extremist discourse and the differences with other terms. After that, a review description and comparison of the frequently used NLP techniques is presented, including how they were applied, the insights they provided, the most frequently used NLP software tools, descriptive and classification applications, and the availability of datasets and data sources for research. Finally, research questions are approached and answered with highlights from the review, while future trends, challenges and directions derived from these highlights are suggested towards stimulating further research in this exciting research area.
Techniques to detect terrorists/extremists on the dark web: a review
2022 Alghamdi, H. and Selamat, A. Article
With the proliferation of terrorist/extremist websites on the World Wide Web, it has become progressively more crucial to detect and analyze the content on these websites. Accordingly, the volume of previous research focused on identifying the techniques and activities of terrorist/extremist groups, as revealed by their sites on the so-called dark web, has also grown.
This study presents a review of the techniques used to detect and process the content of terrorist/extremist sites on the dark web. Forty of the most relevant data sources were examined, and various techniques were identified among them.
Based on this review, it was found that methods of feature selection and feature extraction can be used as topic modeling with content analysis and text clustering.
At the end of the review, present the current state-of-the- art and certain open issues associated with Arabic dark Web content analysis.
Ethnographizing Islamic State's Digital Community on Telegram Platform
2022 Spagna, N.G. Book
Over time cyberspace has become an increasingly relevant environment for Islamic terrorism. The advent of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in 2014 showed capability in exploiting jihadist propaganda and terror communication to radicalize and mobilize sympathizers globally. The digital arena has assumed a central role in the online jihadist movement. This centrality manifested itself in establishing an increasingly active Digital Caliphate declined in a community shape. The community's members migrated on different digital platforms, consolidating mainly on Telegram between 2017 and the end of 2019 when the extremist digital community was hardly hit by a counterterrorism operation led by Europol. However, how was the Digital Caliphate organized on Telegram? Was there any leadership within this community? Who were the main actors' part of it? How did the trust-building process work amongst strangers but close to the same extremist ideology? Furthermore, what were the expressive, communicative and symbolic features of the online jihadist culture? By applying digital ethnography through the covert participant observation lasting about two years within the pro-IS digital community on Telegram, this study seeks to provide an insight into the social, cultural and organizational anatomy of the Digital Caliphate and its members by identifying a possible organizational model. Extensive reflection was also dedicated to the ethical dimension; thus, the potentiality emerged from applying the ethnographic approach when considered a counterterrorism tool called "Digital Humint". The "Think Terrorist" approach, a process that immerses the researcher within the extremist perspective, is not limited to being an academic exercise but becomes an analysis tool that helps identify future threats. Interpreting the jihadist ecosystems and the role of technology increases our understanding and provides new insights for future prevention strategies. That is the challenge that poses academics and law enforcement agencies as increasingly converging actors in fighting against terrorism.
The Use of the Internet and the Internet of Things in Modern Terrorism and Violent Extremism
2022 Sullivan, A. and Montasari, R. Chapter
This chapter will examine the role of the Internet and associated technology such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing (CC) in the process of radicalisation to terrorism and violent extremism. Particular emphasis will be placed upon the role of online environments in facilitating communication and the spread of extremist ideology, as opposed to operational and strategic recruiting functions of the Internet. Before assessing the debate, this chapter shall define two key concepts, radicalisation and violent extremism. Firstly, the chapter will provide an assessment of academic literature that has perpetuated a false offline and online dichotomy. Then, the chapter will demonstrate the new communicative role of technology within violent extremist movements since the emergence of Web 2.0. Following this, Sageman’s (Leaderless Jihad: Terror networks in the twenty-first century, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008) ‘bunch of guys’ bottom-up framework will be employed to understand how the process of radicalisation can be facilitated and amplified by the digital age, referring to the concepts of moral outrage, othering, virtual communities and echo chambers. Lastly, contemporary literature that considers the interplay between online and offline domains will be explored.
The Internet of Things and Terrorism: A Cause for Concern
2022 Rees, J. Chapter
Over recent years, there have been rapid advances in information and communication technology. The Internet of Things (IoT), an instance of such technologies, has brought numerous benefits to societies, revolutionising the lifestyles of many individuals living in these societies. Whilst advances in the IoT undoubtedly offer numerous benefits, they simultaneously present a wide range of new security threats that can have devastating impacts on societies.

This chapter aims to examine security risks posed by or against the IoT ecosystem from a counterterrorism perspective. To this end, the chapter will briefly examine the potential implications of the IoT phenomenon this for terrorism and hence counterterrorism.
The Impact of the Internet and Social Media Platforms on Radicalisation to Terrorism and Violent Extremism
2022 Gunton, K. Chapter
This chapter critically discusses the evidence suggesting that the Internet and SMPs affect radicalisation to violent extremism. The chapter specifically focuses on arguments surrounding echo chambers, opportunities for women to remain anonymous and the role of identity construction for the youth. The study also critically discusses the evidence negating the notion that the Internet and SMPs can affect radicalisation to terrorism and violent extremism. The discussion focuses primarily on offline persuasion and a ‘false dichotomy’. Based on this critical analysis, the chapter argues that the Internet and SMPs play an important role in the radicalisation of youth and women based on the increased opportunities that might not otherwise be provided in the offline world despite the methodological issues around the evidence. Furthermore, it is argued that evidence does not successfully demonstrate that echo chambers on the Internet affect radicalisation to violent extremism. Whilst acknowledging that offline persuasion also plays a significant role and the evidence suggesting a ‘false dichotomy’, the chapter also argues that it would not be effective to research online and offline radicalisation as an integrated model. This is due to the fact that there still exists a lack of understanding and empirical research around online radicalisation as well as radicalisation in general.
Digital Caliphate: Islamic State, Modernity and Technology
2021 Gajić, A. and Despotović, L. Article
This paper observes some of the most distinguished characteristics of the Islamic State related to the use of modern technology and tries to drawn some important conclusions between the terrorist’s quasi state, modernity and technology. After the examination of the functioning of IS at the peak of its powers between 2014 and 2017, the analysis turns to terrorists’ various online activities. All of them are showing the Islamic State’s reliance on modern technology, especially IT, as one of the most important aspects of its terrorist activities that greatly contributed not only to the effectiveness, but to the essential definition of first modern terrorist quasi-state. The second part of the paper deals with the Islamic State`s fully reliance on technology in its own legitimization (both among Islamist rivals and “infidels”). The celebration and the fascination with modern technology as main IS characteristics make it different from other Islamist terrorist groups, and trying to establish relations between modernity and terrorism based on religious fundamentalism. The paper also tries to find answers to the question whether IS’s ultra-modern techno approach is responsible for its transformation from a classical fundamentalist terrorist group into some kind of modern political ideology and a social movement with totalitarian and murderous characteristics.
Violent Extremism and Terrorism Online in 2021: The Year in Review
2022 Conway, M., Watkin, A.L., and Looney, S. VOX-Pol Publication
This report treats developments in the violent extremist and terrorist online scene(s) in the 12-month period from 1 December 2020 to 30 November 2021. It accomplishes this by surveying, describing, and integrating the findings of relevant articles and reports produced by academics, thinktanks, civil society, and governmental organisations; high quality media coverage; and the first hand experience and primary research of the authors.
This report treats developments in the violent extremist and terrorist online scene(s) in the 12-month period from 1 December 2020 to 30 November 2021. It accomplishes this by surveying, describing, and integrating the findings of relevant articles and reports produced by academics, thinktanks, civil society, and governmental organisations; high quality media coverage; and the firsthand experience and primary research of the authors.
A Context Aware Embedding for the Detection of Hate Speech in Social Media Networks
2021 Kavatagi, S. and Rachh, R. Article
Proliferation of social media platforms in recent past has resulted into upsurge in the number of users. Advent of these sites have paved way for the users to easily express share and communicate. In such a scenario, it is imperative to analyze the content and identify nasty content so as to avoid unpleasant situations. Machine learning techniques are extensively used for this purpose. In this paper, we propose a language model for the identification of hate speech in twitter data. Distil-BERT, a context aware embedding model along with Support Vector Machine (SVM) for the classification of hate speech has been used. SVM with a 10-fold cross validation and linear kernel has been found to provide better accuracy as compared to existing models. Results show that accuracy is improved with the use of context aware embedding model.
The Online Extremist Ecosystem: Its Evolution and a Framework for Separating Extreme from Mainstream
2021 Williams, H.J., Evans, A.T., Mueller, E.E., Downing, B. and Ryan, J. Book
In this Perspective, the authors introduce a framework for internet users to categorize the virtual platforms they use and to understand the likelihood that they may encounter extreme content online. The authors first provide a landscape of the online extremist "ecosystem," describing how the proliferation of messaging forums, social media networks, and other virtual community platforms has coincided with an increase in extremist online activity. Next, they present a framework to describe and categorize the platforms that host varying amounts of extreme content as mainstream, fringe, or niche. Mainstream platforms are those for which only a small portion of the content would be considered inappropriate or extreme speech. Fringe platforms are those that host a mix of mainstream and extreme content—and where a user might readily come across extreme content that is coded or obscured to disguise its violent or racist underpinning. Niche platforms are those that openly and purposefully cater to an extreme audience.
Who Should Regulate Extremist Content Online?
2021 Reed, A. and Henschke, A. Chapter
As liberal democracies grapple with the evolution of online political extremism, in addition to governments, social media and internet infrastructure companies have found themselves making more and more decisions about who gets to use their platforms, and what people say online. This raises the question that this paper explores, who should regulate extremist content online? In doing so the first part of the paper examines the evolution of the increasing role that social media and internet infrastructure companies have come to play in the regulating extremist content online, and the ethical challenges this presents. The second part of the paper explores three ethical challenges: i) the moral legitimacy of private actors, ii) the concentration of power in the hands of a few actors and iii) the lack of separation of powers in the content regulation process by private actors.
“We are Generation Terror!”: Youth‑on‑youth Radicalisation in Extreme‑right Youth Groups
2021 Rose, H. and A.C. Report
Young people – politicised, active and highly connected – are no longer just passive consumers of online terrorist content by adult groomers but are themselves propaganda creators, group organisers, peer recruiters, extremist financers and terrorist convicts. This process, called “youth‑on‑youth radicalisation”, emphasises the agency that young people have in a digital era in which the information hierarchy is increasingly flattened. Noting the formation of several new young extreme‑right groups and a series of terrorist convictions across Western Europe, this paper takes first steps to investigate the specific nature of this emerging threat.
Preventing Violent Extremism Through Media and Communications
2021 Freear, M. and Glazzard, A. Report
This Whitehall Report compares two P/CVE programmes in Kenya and Lebanon that independently came to the same conclusion: to counter the multiplicity of factors drawing young people into violent extremism, communications and media tools should be recast to serve the needs of young people, rather than treat them as an audience.
Can the Right Meme? (And How?): A Comparative Analysis of Three Online Reactionary Meme Subcultures
2021 Stall, H., Prasad, H. and Foran, D. Report
This report analyses memes propagated among three online socio‐political groups drawn from sample datasets pulled from social media sites often used by adherents of each group. These groups include those connected to the India‐based Hindutva, US‐based neo‐Nazis and those engaging in pro‐Rittenhouse communications in late 2020. The authors chose the groups based on similarities in their ideological goals, race‐based nationalism and their close association with political violence in their respective countries.
Propaganda and Radicalization: The Case of Daesh in Iran
2021 Kadivar, J. Article
The process of becoming radicalized and joining extremist groups like Daesh, in countries with a Shi’a majority, such as Iran, is a controversial topic that has not received sufficient attention in the literature. This study examines Daesh’s media content in Farsi and seeks to provide an analysis of Daesh’s main messages, which have the primary objective of profoundly impacting their target audiences in Iran. This study collected data from 16 Iranian members of Daesh to discover how they were radicalized and why they decided to join Daesh. This study seeks to understand whether the media and Daesh’s propaganda are indeed the key reasons behind the radicalization of Daesh’s Iranian members and the creation of others’ perception of their mindsets against Iran and its Shi’a population, and to discover other possible factors that play a role in the radicalization process. While Daesh media and messages hold salience in relation to the Daeshization of some, studying such complex socio-political issues is rooted in an amalgamation of different personal, social, political, economic, and cultural push and pull factors. Such phenomena cannot, therefore, be reduced to only one of the mentioned elements.
Fascist cross-pollination of Australian conspiracist Telegram channels
2021 Gill, G. Article
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about trauma and uncertainty for vast swathes of the world population, including in Australia. One effect of this has been the growth of COVID-19 conspiracy theories, and general conspiracism. This article explores efforts by fascists and neo-Nazis to exploit the rise in conspiratorial thinking for recruitment and dissemination of their ideas. Five Australian conspiracist Telegram channels are studied for signs of fascist cross-pollination, and it is found that users with fascist sympathies attempt to influence the channels’ discourse through appeals to purported ideological and situational commonalities.