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
Analyzing predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors of militancy through declassified interrogation summaries: A case study
2020 Aggarwal, N.K. Article
Researchers and policymakers have supported a public health approach to countering violent extremism throughout the War on Terror. However, barriers to obtaining primary data include concerns from minority groups about stigmatization, the ethics of harming research subjects by exposing them to violent content, and restrictions on researchers from institutions and governments. Textual analyses of declassified documents from government agencies may overcome these barriers. This article contributes a method for analyzing the predisposing, precipitating, and perpetuating factors of terrorism through open source texts. This method is applied to FBI interrogation summaries of Al Qaeda terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted an attack aboard an airplane in 2009. This analysis shows that consuming militant content online led him to narrow his social relationships offline to extremists and foster identifications with subjugated Muslims around the world. After deciding to wage militancy, loyalty to Al Qaeda members, swearing allegiance to and obeying group leaders, and interpreting religious texts militantly perpetuated violent activities. Such work can advance empirical work on militant behavior to develop interventions.
Detection And Classification Of Social Media Based Extremist Affiliations Using Sentiment Analysis Techniques
2019 Ahmad, S., Asghar, M. Z., Alotaibi, F. M. and Awan, I. Article
Identification and classification of extremist-related tweets is a hot issue. Extremist gangs have been involved in using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter for propagating their ideology and recruitment of individuals. This work aims at proposing a terrorism-related content analysis framework with the focus on classifying tweets into extremist and non-extremist classes. Based on user-generated social media posts on Twitter, we develop a tweet classifcation system using deep learning-based sentiment analysis techniques to classify the tweets as extremist or non-extremist. The experimental results are encouraging and provide a gateway for future researchers.
A War of Keywords: How Extremists are Exploiting the Internet and What to do About It
2016 Ahmed, M. and George, FL. Report
This research centred on three layers of analysis: Firstly, understanding
the keywords, or search terms, people use to
find information on Google; secondly, looking at the data
demonstrating links going into a selection of known extremist
websites in order to understand their relationships
with other websites;
and thirdly, analysing the content of
Google search results pages to understand the placement of extremist and counter-narrative content within search results for relevant keywords. The areas of analysis represent
important aspects related to the broader internet and,
when combined, gave the opportunity to get a snapshot of
extremist content beyond the realm of social media.

The results produced by this multi-faceted approach provide
an overview of extremist content online and shed
much-needed light on the impact and effectiveness of online
counter-narrative efforts.
Wie Extrem ist die Rechte in Europa? Untersuchung von Überschneidungen in der deutschen Rechtsaußenszene auf Twitter
2020 Ahmed, R. and Pisoiu, D. VOX-Pol Publication
Ziel dieser Arbeit ist es, die Überschneidungen in der Rechtsaußenszene auf Twitter zu ermitteln und insbesondere festzustellen, inwieweit verschiedene Gruppen in der Szene tatsächlich auf die gleiche Weise über dieselben Themen sprechen, trotz offensichtlicher Unterschiede im Tonfall und den zugrunde liegenden Ideologien. Wir verwenden einen Mischmethodenansatz: Zunächst wollen wir einen oberflächlichen Einblick in die extrem rechte Szene auf Twitter in ganz Europa gewinnen, und dann führen wir bei drei ausgewählten Gruppen in Deutschland eine detaillierte Frame-Analyse aus, um die impliziten und expliziten Überschneidungen zwischen ihnen zu bestimmen und so die quantitativen Angaben zu ergänzen, damit die Bedeutung detailliert analysiert werden kann.
How Extreme Is The European Far Right? Investigating Overlaps in the German Far-Right Scene on Twitter
2019 Ahmed, R. and Pisoiu, D. VOX-Pol Publication
The aim of the report is to determine the overlaps apparent in the far-right scene on Twitter, and specifically, to ascertain the extent to which different groups on the scene are indeed talking about the same issues in the same way, in spite of apparent differences in tone and underlying ideologies. The authors utilise a mixed-methods approach: first, gaining a cursory insight into the extreme right-wing scene on Twitter across Europe; and then applying a detailed frame analysis to three selected groups in Germany to determine the implicit and explicit overlaps between them, thus complementing the quantitative findings to offer an in-depth analysis of meaning.
Uniting the far right: how the far-right extremist, New Right, and populist frames overlap on Twitter – a German case study
2020 Ahmed, R. and Pisoiu, D. VOX-Pol Publication
Recent elections in Europe have demonstrated a steady rise in the success of right-wing populist parties. While advancing an anti-immigration agenda, these parties have been adamant to distance themselves from ‘right-wing extremism’. This article analyses a sample of tweets collected from the Twitter accounts of the German AfD, Identitarian Movement and the Autonomous Nationalists by employing frame analysis. We conclude that the frames of far-right actors classified as extremist, New Right, and populist in fact converge and we discuss our findings in the context of related case studies in other European countries.
Social media and counterterrorism strategy
2015 Aistrope, T. Journal
With the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the issue of domestic radicalisation has taken on renewed significance for Western democracies. In particular, attention has been drawn to the potency of ISIS engagement on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Several governments have emphasised the importance of online programs aimed at undermining ISIS recruitment, including the use of state-run accounts on a variety of social media platforms to respond directly to ISIS messaging. This article assesses the viability of online counter-radicalisation by examining the effectiveness of similar programs at the US State Department over the last decade. The article argues that governments attempting to counter online radicalisation of their domestic populations must take seriously the significant shortcomings of these State Department programs. The most relevant issue in this regard is the recurring problem of credibility, when the authenticity of government information is undercut by the realities of foreign policy practice, and existing perceptions of hypocrisy and duplicity are reinforced in target audiences.
The Stream: Are the Roots of Radicalisation Online?
2014 Al Jazeera Video
Now on Twitter, Facebook: Jihadi Media Foundation Fursan Al-Balagh
2013 Al-Hadj, M. Report
Media foundations connected to jihadi groups and jihad-supporting organizations, which once released their productions – videos, statements, and more – over jihadi forums, have turned to social media websites, mainly Facebook and Twitter, because of these forums' inability to provide reliable means for communication, interaction, and publication due to constant and often lengthy disruption of their online presence. This report discusses official and unofficial jihadi media foundations' presence on Facebook and Twitter, and identifies the foundations' accounts and provide background information regarding their affiliation and activities.
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.
Turning Away From the Truth: Critique Of Hamami
2013 Al-Muhajir, A.H. Lecture
Demystifying the Abu Mansur Saga
Video Games, Terrorism, and ISIS’s Jihad 3.0
2016 Al-Raqi, A. Journal
This study discusses different media strategies followed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In particular, the study attempts to understand the way ISIS’s video game that is called “Salil al-Sawarem” (The Clanging of the Swords) has been received by the online Arab public. The article argues that the goal behind making and releasing the video game was to gain publicity and attract attention to the group, and the general target was young people. The main technique used by ISIS is what I call “troll, flame, and engage.” The results indicate that the majority of comments are against ISIS and its game, though most of the top ten videos are favorable towards the group. The sectarian dimension between Sunnis and Shiites is highly emphasized in the online exchanges, and YouTube remains an active social networking site that is used by ISIS followers and sympathizers to promote the group and recruit others.
Islam on Youtube: Online Debates, Protests, and Extremism
2017 Al-Rawi, A. Book
This book offers empirical insight into the way Muslims reacted online towards various controversial issues related to Islam. The book examines four cases studies: The Muhammed’s cartoons, the burning of the Quran controversies, Fitna and the Innocence of Muslims’ films. The issues of online religion, social movements and extremism are discussed, as many of the cases in question created both uproar and unity among many YouTubers. These case studies – in some instances – led to the expression of extremist views by some users, and the volume argues that they helped contribute to the growth of extremism due to the utilization of these events by some terrorist groups in order to recruit new members. In the concluding chapter, social network and sentiment analyses are presented in order to investigate all the collected comments and videos, while a critical discussion of freedom of expression and hate speech is offered, with special regards to the growing online influence of far right groups and their role in on-going YouTube debates.
The Anti-Terrorist Advertising Campaigns in the Middle East
2013 Al-Rawi, A.K. Journal
The anti-terror public media campaigns started in Iraq around 2004 and was called ‘Terror has no Religion’ in order to combat the threats of sectarianism and Al-Qaeda. After the withdrawal of the US forces from the country in late 2010, the campaign stopped, but a new and similar one emerged that is called ‘Say no to Terror’ whose advertisements mostly targeted the Saudi public. Several Pan-Arab regional channels like Al-Arabiya and Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) were part of airing its advertisements. This study focuses on the ‘Terror has no Religion’ and ‘Say no to Terror’ campaigns by critically examining their websites and videos to understand the nature of messages sent to the public. Further, the study examines the effectiveness of the two campaigns with special emphasis on ‘Say no to Terror’ by analyzing comments posted on YouTube and discussing the counter campaign. Over 350 videos were found containing counter arguments to ‘Say no to Terror’ campaign, and about 60% of YouTube commentators viewed the campaign negatively, expressing suspicion about its real intentions. The paper concludes that the success of such public service advertisements is doubtful due to the format of the message as well as cultural and political reasons that are linked to the region.
Understanding Online Radicalisation Using Data Science
2016 Al-Saggaf, Y. Journal
What characterises social media radicals? And why some people become attracted to radicalisation? To explore answers to these questions, a number of tweets posted by a group of suspected radicals tweeting in Arabic were analysed using social network analysis and machine learning. The study revealed that these suspected radicals' networks showed significant interaction with others; but this interactivity is only significant quantitatively as the interaction is not reciprocated. With regards to why these suspected radicals became attracted to radicalisation, Topic Modelling revealed these suspected radicals' tweets underpinned a perceived injustice that they believed the Secret Police and the Government inflicted upon them. Overall, the study has shown that data science tools have the potential to inform our understanding of online radicalisation. It is hoped this exploratory study will be the basis for a future study in which the research questions will be answered using a larger sample.
Understanding The Expression Of Grievances In The Arabic Twitter-sphere Using Machine Learning
2019 Al-Saggaf, Y. and Davies, A. Article
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the design, application and findings of a case study in which the application of a machine learning algorithm is utilised to identify the grievances in Twitter in an Arabian context. To understand the characteristics of the Twitter users who expressed the identified grievances, data mining techniques and social network analysis were utilised. The study extracted a total of 23,363 tweets and these were stored as a data set. The machine learning algorithm applied to this data set was followed by utilising a data mining process to explore the characteristics of the Twitter feed users. The network of the users was mapped and the individual level of interactivity and network density were calculated. Findings The machine learning algorithm revealed 12 themes all of which were underpinned by the coalition of Arab countries blockade of Qatar. The data mining analysis revealed that the tweets could be clustered in three clusters, the main cluster included users with a large number of followers and friends but who did not mention other users in their tweets. The social network analysis revealed that whilst a large proportion of users engaged in direct messages with others, the network ties between them were not registered as strong. Borum (2011) notes that invoking grievances is the first step in the radicalisation process. It is hoped that by understanding these grievances, the study will shed light on what radical groups could invoke to win the sympathy of aggrieved people. In combination, the machine learning algorithm offered insights into the grievances expressed within the tweets in an Arabian context. The data mining and the social network analyses revealed the characteristics of the Twitter users highlighting identifying and managing early intervention of radicalisation.
Youth and Violent Extremism on Social Media: Mapping the Research
2017 Alava, S., Frau-Meigs, D., and Hassan, G. Report
Does social media lead vulnerable individuals to resort to violence? Many people believe it
does. And they respond with online censorship, surveillance and counter-speech. But what
do we really know about the Internet as a cause, and what do we know about the impact
of these reactions? All over the world, governments and Internet companies are making
decisions on the basis of assumptions about the causes and remedies to violent attacks. The
challenge is to have analysis and responses firmly grounded. The need is for a policy that is
constructed on the basis of facts and evidence, and not founded on hunches – or driven by
panic and fearmongering.
It is in this context that UNESCO has commissioned the study titled Youth and Violent
Extremism on Social Media – Mapping the Research. This work provides a global mapping
of research (mainly during 2012-16) about the assumed roles played by social media in
violent radicalization processes, especially when they affect youth and women. The research
responds to the belief that the Internet at large is an active vector for violent radicalization
that facilitates the proliferation of violent extremist ideologies. Indeed, much research
shows that protagonists are indeed heavily spread throughout the Internet. There is a
growing body of knowledge about how terrorists use cyberspace. Less clear, however, is
the impact of this use, and even more opaque is the extent to which counter measures are
helping to promote peaceful alternatives. While Internet may play a facilitating role, it is not
established that there is a causative link between it and radicalization towards extremism,
violent radicalization, or the commission of actual acts of extremist violence.
The Deceit of internet hate speech: A Study of the narrative and visual methods used by hate groups on the Internet
2004 Albano, G.M. MA Thesis
Intentional misinformation is a problem that has been documented in a variety of shapes and forms for thousands of years and continues to plague the American landscape. The advent and increasing usage of the Internet have created an additional venue through which intentional misinformation is disseminated, and many groups are taking full advantage of this new communication medium. Because the Internet allows anyone with web publishing skills to disseminate misinformation, it is often difficult for users to judge the credibility of the information. Hate groups understand this phenomenon and are taking full advantage of the Internet by publishing hate sites that promote their extremist ideologies by using language and symbolism that makes the true message difficult to decipher. This study will investigate the methods employed by hate groups to disseminate misinformation to the public.
Rechtsterrorismus im digitalen Zeitalter
2020 Albrecht, S. and Fielitz, M. Report
Der Rechtsterrorismus ist im digitalen Zeitalter angekommen. Von Christchurch bis El Paso haben sich neue Ausdrucksformen rechter Gewalt etabliert, deren Täter mehr in digitalen Subkulturen als in rechtsextremen Organisationen zu verorten sind. Die radikalisierenden Tendenzen obskurer Online-Communitys geraten somit stärker in den Fokus der Forschung und fordern das Verständnis von rechtem Terror heraus. Wie verändert sich der Rechtsterrorismus also im digitalen Zeitalter? Mit diesem Beitrag möchten wir diese Frage mit dem Verweis auf die Beziehung von digitalen Hasskulturen und rechtsterroristischer Gewalt beleuchten. Wir argumentieren, dass die Analyse der Gewalttaten nicht ohne das Verständnis digitaler Hasskulturen auskommt, die Menschenfeindlichkeit über ironische Kommunikationsformate normalisiert. Aus ihnen heraus bildet sich eine rechtsterroristische Subkultur, die die ambivalenten Erzeugnisse digitaler Kulturen aufgreift und mit gewaltverherrlichenden Inhalten des Neonazismus verbindet, um eines zu erreichen: Menschen zur Gewalt anzuspornen.
Cruel Intentions: Female Jihadists in America
2016 Alexander, A. Report
The notion of women in terrorism pushed its way to the forefront of the American mindset on December 2, 2015, when Tashfeen Malik and her husband, Syed Farook, opened fire at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California. After the couple killed 14 and injured 22, the growing threat posed by female jihadists in America became immediately apparent to policymakers, law enforcement officials, and the public. Some reports, citing law enforcement officials, claim that Malik pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook the day of the attack.2 IS later praised the couple’s actions in Dabiq, its official English-language magazine, affiliating themselves with the duo.3 Despite these assertions, the FBI’s most recent report has not yet determined a direct link to IS.4 Details about the couple’s path to violence remain buried in an ongoing investigation that may take years to reach the public. In spite of this obstacle, Malik’s case offers exceptional insight into the complex, morphing ventures of jihadist women in America. It is difficult to discern the exact rate at which women participate in jihadist movements in the United States, but the surge in relevant legal cases suggests this figure is on the rise. In the decade following 9/11, only a handful of prominent cases, like that of Aafia Siddiqui5 and Colleen LaRose,6 have shown the threat female jihadists could pose to national security. In recent years, instances of terrorism-related activity perpetrated by women have increased in number. Since 2011, at least 25 known cases of jihadi women with connections to the U.S. have emerged, shedding light on the myriad roles adopted by female jihadists. While few follow in Tashfeen Malik’s footsteps and pursue violent plots, many disseminate propaganda or donate resources to show their support. In some instances, women travel abroad to make direct contributions to a particular group. This report uses a wealth of primary and secondary data to examine the efforts of 25 American jihadi women since 2011.7 The cases offer a tremendous diversity of demographic data, suggesting that an overarching profile of the female jihadist is indiscernible. Moreover, within the dataset, women align themselves with a range of organizations including, but not limited to, IS, al-Shabaab, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda.