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
Association between volume and momentum of online searches and real-world collective unrest
2016 Qi, H., Manrique, P., Johnson, D., Restrepo, E. and Johnson, N. Article
A fundamental idea from physics is that macroscopic transitions can occur as a result of an escalation in the correlated activity of a many-body system’s constituent particles. Here we apply this idea in an interdisciplinary setting, whereby the particles are individuals, their correlated activity involves online search activity surrounding the topics of social unrest, and the macroscopic phenomenon being measured are real-world protests. Our empirical study covers countries in Latin America during 2011–2014 using datasets assembled from multiple sources by subject matter experts. We find specifically that the volume and momentum of searches on Google Trends surrounding mass protest language, can detect – and may even pre-empt – the macroscopic on-street activity. Not only can this simple open-source solution prove an invaluable aid for monitoring civil order, our study serves to strengthen the increasing literature in the physics community aimed at understanding the collective dynamics of interacting populations of living objects across the life sciences.
Jihadi Video and Auto-Radicalisation: Evidence From an Exploratory YouTube Study
2008 Conway, M. and McInerney, L. Article
Large amounts of jihadi video content on YouTube along with the vast array of relational data that can be gathered opens up innovative avenues for exploration of the support base for political violence. This exploratory study analyses the online supporters of jihad-promoting video content on YouTube, focusing on those posting and commenting upon martyr-promoting material from Iraq. Findings suggest that a majority are under 35 years of age and resident outside the region of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with the largest percentage of supporters located in the United States. Evidence to support the potential for online radicalisation is presented. Findings relating to newly formed virtual relationships involving a YouTube user with no apparent prior links to jihadists are discussed.
Terrorism & Internet Governance: Core Issues
2007 Conway, M. Article
Both global governance and the sub-set of issues that may be termed 'internet governance' are vast and complex issue areas. The difficulties of trying to 'legislate' at the global level – efforts that must encompass the economic, cultural, developmental, legal, and political concerns of diverse states and other stakeholders – are further complicated by the technological conundrums encountered in cyberspace. The unleashing of the so-called ‘Global War on Terrorism’ (GWOT) complicates things yet further. Today, both sub-state and non-state actors are said to be harnessing – or preparing to harness – the power of the internet to harass and attack their foes. Clearly, international terrorism had already been a significant security issue prior to 11 September 2001 (hereafter '9/11') and the emergence of the internet in the decade before. Together, however, the events of 9/11 and advancements in ICTs have added new dimensions to the problem. In newspapers and magazines, in film and on television, and in research and analysis, 'cyber-terrorism' has become a buzzword. Since the events of 9/11, the question on everybody's lips appears to be 'is cyber-terrorism next?' It is generally agreed that the potential for a 'digital 9/11' in the near future is not great. This does not mean that IR scholars may continue to ignore the transformative powers of the internet.
Terrorism and (Mass) Communication: From Nitro to the Net
2004 Conway, M. Article
In their seminal contribution to the study of terrorism and the media, Violence as Communication (1982), Alex Schmid and Jenny De Graaf point out that before technology made possible the amplification and multiplication of speech, the maximum number of people that could be reached simultaneously was determined by the range of the human voice and was around 20,000 people. In the nineteenth century, the size of an audience was expanded twenty-five to fifty times. In 1839 the New York Sun published a record 39,000 copies; in 1896, on the occasion of President McKinley’s election, two US papers, belonging to Pulitzer and Hearst, for the first time printed a million copies. William McKinley paid a high price for this publicity. In 1901 he was killed by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, who explained his deed with the words: ‘For a man should not claim so much attention, while others receive none.’ Historically, access to the communication structure was intimately related to power. With the growth of the press, and later television, a situation arose that gave unequal chances of expression to different people. This connection between power and free expression was summed-up by A.J. Liebling who observed that ‘Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.
Hackers as Terrorists? Why it Doesn't Compute
2003 Conway, M. Article
The bulk of this article is concerned with showing why computer hackers and terrorists are unlikely to form an unholy alliance to engage in so-called
cyberterrorism. The remainder of the paper examines why neither hacktivists nor crackers fall easily into the cyberterrorist category either.
Code wars: Steganography, Signals Intelligence, and Terrorism
2003 Conway, M. Article
This paper describes and discusses the process of secret communication known as steganography. The argument advanced here is that terrorists are unlikely to be employing digital steganography to facilitate secret intra-group communication as has been claimed. This is because terrorist use of digital steganography is both technically and operationally implausible. The position adopted in this paper is that terrorists are likely to employ low-tech steganography such as semagrams and null ciphers instead.
Media, Fear and the Hyperreal: the Construction of Cyberterrorism as the Ultimate Threat to Critical Infrastructures
2008 Conway, M. Article
Analysis of the construction of the cyberterrorist threat, with the core argument that US media outlets have been significant contributors not just to the dissemination, but to the actual discursive construction of the contemporary cyberterrorist threat and, further, that it is their emphasis on the (imagined) fatal connectivity between virtual networks and physical infrastructures that makes the concept of cyberterror so powerful.
From ‘Martyrdom’ Videos to Jihadi Journalism in Somalia
2010 Anzalone, C. Article
An analysis of Harakat al-Shabab’s multimedia releases and the rapid evolution in their production quality and design over a period of two to three years. Sound quality, animation, syncing sound with visuals, and narrative structures have all improved from the group’s multimedia releases from 2007 and 2008 when its videos were relatively simple, often just individuals sitting in front of a video camera, possibly just a camcorder, and grainy battle footage depicting fierce firefights between Harakat al-Shabab and the interim Somali government and its chief military backers, the African Union expeditionary force stationed inside the country.
The Original Web of Hate Revolution Muslim and American Homegrown Extremists
2015 Levin, B. Article
Before the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leveraged the Internet into a truly modern quasi-state propaganda machine through horrendous online videos, travel handbooks, and sophisticated Twitter messengering, more humble yet highly effective precursors targeted youthful Western Muslims for radicalism, during a time when home grown plots peaked. These brash new entrants into the crowded freewheeling world of extremist cyber-haters joined racists, religious extremists of other faiths, Islamophobes, single issue proponents, as well as anti-government rhetoriticians and conspiracists. The danger from these evolving new provocateurs, then and now, is not that they represent a viewpoint that is widely shared by American Muslims. However, the earlier successful forays by extremist Salafists, firmly established the Internet as a tool to rapidly radicalize, train and connect a growing, but small number of disenfranchised or unstable young people to violence. The protections that the First Amendment provide to expression in the United States, contempt for Western policies and culture, contorted fundamentalism, and the initial successes of these early extremist Internet adopters, outlined here, paved the way for the ubiquitous and sophisticated online radicalization efforts we see today.
Analysis of PKK/KONGRA-GEL Websites to Identify Points of Vulnerability
2008 Çelebim, E. Article
The PKK/KONGRA-GEL terrorist group makes extensive use of the internet, notably for propaganda. The prominent PKK websites are listed in a dataset which shows the way these sites relate to each other with links. An overview of their content is given, then various software and analysis tools, notably Unicet, are used to reveal different aspects of this network of Websites; Centrality Analyses to show prominence and hierarchical structure, Density and Geodesic Distances Analyses, and Connectivity Analyses.
Linksextreme Medien
2014 van Hüllen, R. Article
Linksextreme Medien wollen nicht möglichst objektiv über allgemeine Belange berichten. Sie sind auch keine Wirtschaftsunternehmen, die kundenorientiert Leistungen verkaufen wollen. Sie verfolgen politische Ziele - und bekämpfen die politischen Gegner.
Differential Online Exposure to Extremist Content and Political Violence: Testing the Relative Strength of Social Learning and Competing Perspectives
2014 Pauwels, L. and Schils, N. Article
The present study applies Social Learning (Differential Association) Theory to the explanation of political violence, focusing on exposure to extremist content through new social media (NSM) and controlling for key variables derived from rival theories. Data are gathered using (a) a paper-and-pencil study among high school students, and (b) a web survey targeting youths between 16 and 24 years old. A total of 6020 respondents form the dataset. Binary logistic regression is used to analyze the data. Results show that even when controlling for background variables, strain variables, personality characteristics, moral values, and peer influences, the statistical association between measures of extremism through NSM (ENSM) and self-reported political violence remains significant and fairly constant. The most persistent effects are found for those measures where individuals actively seek out extremist content on the Internet, as opposed to passive and accidental encounters using NSM. Furthermore, offline differential associations with racist and delinquent peers are also strongly and directly related to self-reported political violence, as are some mechanisms from rival perspectives. This indicates that political violence can only partially be explained by social learning and suggests that the impact of ENSM is mediated by real-world associations and that the offline world has to be taken into account.
The Dark Side of the Web: Italian Right-Wing Extremist Groups and the Internet
2009 Caiani, M. and Parenti, L. Article
Focusing on extreme-right organisations in Italy, this article addresses the specific use of the Internet by extremist groups and its potential role for the formation of collective identity, organisational contacts and mobilisation. The analysis includes both political parties and non-party organisations, even violent groups. Through the combination of Social Network Analysis (SNA) of web linkages amongst approximately 100 organisations, with a formalised content analysis of those websites, we argue that various forms of usage of the Internet by right-wing organisations are indeed on the rise,
with an increase not only in the number of extremist websites but also in the exploitation of the Internet for diffusing propaganda, promoting ‘virtual communities’ of debate, fundraising, and organising and mobilising political campaigns. The various specificities of the usage of the Internet by extreme right organisations are demonstrated and linked to offline reality.
The Hidden Face of Jihadist Internet Forum Management: The Case of Ansar Al Mujahideen
2014 Torres-Soriano, M.R. Article
This article offers a descriptive analysis of the private interactions which took place on the jihadist Internet forum known as Ansar Al Mujahideen between 2008 and 2010. The analysis of the non-visible part of the forum contributes to a more robust underpinning of some current assumptions regarding the jihadist Internet infrastructure and its hierarchical dependence on, and subordination to, formal terrorist organisations and charismatic leaders. In addition, it offers a new perspective on other aspects such as the many conflicts and rivalries between the different forums, the operational constraints caused by the lack of human and material resources, and the considerable vulnerability of the forums to cyber-sabotage and infiltration attempts.
‘Don’t Talk to Me’: Effects of Ideologically Homogeneous Online Groups and Politically Dissimilar Offline Ties on Extremism
2010 Wojcieszak, M. Article
This study analyzes cross-sectional data obtained from respondents in neo-Nazi online discussion forums and textual data from postings to these forums. It assesses the impact of participation in radical and homogeneous online groups on opinion extremism and probes whether this impact depends on political dissimilarity of strong and weak offline ties. Specifically, does dissimilarity attenuate (as deliberative theorists hope) or rather exacerbate (as research on biased processing predicts) extreme opinions? As expected, extremism increases with increased online participation, likely due to the informational and normative influences operating within online groups. Supporting the deliberative and biased processing models, both like-minded and dissimilar social ties offline exacerbate extremism. Consistent with the biased processing model, dissimilar offline ties exacerbate the effects of online groups. The theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Mobilisation and Violence in the New Media Ecology: the Dua Khalil Aswad and Camilia Shehata Cases
2012 Al-Lamia, M., Hoskins, A. and O'Loughlin, B. Article
This article examines two cases in which political groups sought to harness the new media ecology to mobilise and justify acts of violence to public audiences and to supporters. In each case, a woman's suffering is presented and instrumentalised. However, the new media ecology offers an increasingly irregular economy of media modulation: digital footage may emerge today, in a year or never, and it may emerge anywhere to anyone. The cases analysed here allow for reflection on the tension between contingency and intentionality as that irregular economy brings uncertainty for the political actors involved. Dua Khalil Aswad, an Iraqi teenager of the Yazidi faith, was stoned to death by a Yazidi mob consisting of tens of men, mostly her relatives. One Yazidi uploaded a film of the killing. This led to violent reprisals against the Yazidis. Camilia Shehata is a young Coptic Egyptian who, after allegedly converting to Islam, was returned to her church with the help of Egyptian security forces and kept in hiding despite public protests. Extremists in Iraq and Egypt seized on the Shehata case to justify violence against Christians. In both instances, the irregular emergence of digital content and its remediation through these media ecologies enabled distributed agency in ways that empowered and confounded states, terrorists and citizens.
Is the Internet an Incubator for Radicalisation
2015 McGinn, I. and Joinson, A. Article
This blog post explores the reasons why some online ideological groups take action while others do not and focuses on to what extent the online communications of ideological groups contribute to direct collective action.

In order to address this question, we examined a number of online groups using a variety of criteria, including the way they express their group identity online, the narratives they use to imbue their ideologies with legitimacy, and the goals or actions they advocate. We compared these criteria to the actions that the groups have taken, and goals they accomplished.

Our research also explores communication processes and the use of persuasive narratives in an online setting through a number of case studies. These observations provide insight into the decision-making of groups in an online setting and the ways that narrative and discourse are used to justify taking certain actions.

We discuss here findings from two of these case studies, on the American Resistance Movement (ARM), an online community related to the American Patriot movement and the online hacktivist group Anonymous.

We will set out how the concepts of ideology and identity impact on each case, how these relate to the types of actions advocated and taken, and, briefly, the differing effect of anonymity.
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.
The Next Generation of Terror
2009 Sageman, M. Article
The world's most dangerous jihadists no longer answer to al Qaeda. The terrorists we should fear most are self-recruited wannabes who find purpose in terror and comrades on the Web. This new generation is even more frightening and unpredictable than its predecessors, but its evolution just may reveal the key to its demise.
Tweeting to Win: Al-Shabaab’s Strategic Use of Microblogging
2012 Perlman, L. Article
Today, we live in a world of networked global communities, drawn together by the recent technological boom. This unprecedented degree of interconnectivity has affected every size and kind of social organization, from the American government to a camera-armed protester on the streets. Technology has particularly changed the fabric of the Islamic world, a community torn between rejecting innovation and embracing modernity. The mass social movements that rocked the Middle East during the Arab Spring only highlight how important connective devices have become for the strategic calculi of Islamic social movements. Islamic groups now use Internet platforms like Facebook and YouTube to reach a greater audience, challenge opponents, and spread their ideologies.