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
Engaging With Online Extremist Material: Experimental Evidence
2019 Reeve, Z. VOX-Pol Publication
Despite calls from governments to clamp down on violent extremist material in the online sphere, in the name of preventing radicalisation and therefore terrorism research investigating how people engage with extremist material online is surprisingly scarce. The current paper addresses this gap in knowledge with an online experiment. A fictional extremist webpage was designed and (student) participants chose how to engage with it. A mortality salience prime (being primed to think of death) was also included. Mortality salience did not influence engagement with the material but the material itself may have led to disidentification with the ingroup. Whilst interaction with the material was fairly low, those that did engage tended to indicate preference for hierarchy and dominance in society, stronger identification with the ingroup, higher levels of radicalism, and outgroup hostility. More engagement with the online extremist material was also associated with increased likelihood of explicitly supporting the extremist group. These findings show that indoctrination, socialisation, and ideology are not necessarily required for individuals to engage attitudinally or behaviourally with extremist material. This study is not conducted on the dependent variable, therefore shedding light on individuals who do not
engage with extremist material.
Challenging Extremist Views on Social: Media Developing a Counter-Messaging Response
2019 Eerten, J. van and Doosje, B. Book
This book is a timely and significant examination of the role of counter-messaging via social media as a potential means of preventing or countering radicalization to violent extremism. In recent years, extremist groups have developed increasingly sophisticated online communication strategies to spread their propaganda and promote their cause, enabling messages to be spread more rapidly and effectively. Countermessaging has been promoted as one of the most important measures to neutralize online radicalizing influences and is intended to undermine the appeal of messages disseminated by violent extremist groups. While many such initiatives have been launched by Western governments, civil society actors, and private companies, there are many questions regarding their efficacy. Focusing predominantly on efforts countering Salafi-Jihadi extremism, this book examines how feasible it is to prevent or counter radicalization and violent extremism with counter-messaging efforts. It investigates important principles to consider when devising such a program. The authors provide both a comprehensive theoretical overview and a review of the available literature, as well as policy recommendations for governments and the role they can play in counter-narrative efforts. As this is the first book to critically examine the possibilities and pitfalls of using counter-messaging to prevent radicalization or stimulate de-radicalization, it is essential reading for policymakers and professionals dealing with this issue, as well as researchers in the field.
Hate In The Machine - Anti-Black And Anti-Muslim Social Media Posts As Predictors Of Offline Racially And Religiously Aggravated Crime
2019 Williams, M. L., Burnap, P., Javed A., Liu, H. and Ozalp, S. Article
National governments now recognize online hate speech as a pernicious social problem. In the wake of political votes and terror attacks, hate incidents online and offline are known to peak in tandem. This article examines whether an association exists between both forms of hate, independent of ‘trigger’ events. Using Computational Criminology that draws on data science methods, we link police crime, census and Twitter data to establish a temporal and spatial association between online hate speech that targets race and religion, and offline racially and religiously aggravated crimes in London over an eight-month period. The findings renew our understanding of hate crime as a process, rather than as a discrete event, for the digital age
Reconciling Impact And Ethics: An Ethnography of Research in Violent Online Political Extremism
2019 Mahlouly, M. VOX-Pol Publication
Gathering empirical evidence from interviews and focus groups, this study highlights some of the ethical dilemmas faced by the academic community tasked with developing new methodological tools and conceptual frameworks for the study of violent online political extremism. At the same time, it examines how academics position themselves in relation to a broad range of non-academic stakeholders involved in the public debate about where violent extremism, terrorism and the Internet intersect. It argues that these external actors are introducing a multisectoral ‘market’ for research on online violent extremism, which creates both opportunities and limitations for the academic community. Finally, it analyses how academics from across a range of disciplines will be able to secure access to data and competitive research tools, while also engaging in a critical reflection about the
ethical considerations at stake.
Mapping The Jihadist Information Ecosystem
2019 Fisher, A., Prucha, N. and Winterbotham, E. Article
Online disruption efforts generally aim to reduce the availability of jihadist content. Yet, the speed and agility of jihadist movements online – a multiplatform approach which a co-author of this paper has previously described as a ‘swarmcast’ – has allowed groups to evolve in response to disruption efforts and find new ways to distribute content. This paper describes a model of the flow of users between social media platforms and surface web pages to access jihadist content, using data obtained through innovative collection methods. The model provides an approximate picture of the jihadist information ecosystem and how multiple platforms are used to disseminate content.
The Evolution of Online Violent Extremism In Indonesia And The Philippines
2019 Nuraniyah, N. Article
Pro-Daesh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) groups in Indonesia and the Philippines have come to rely on social media for propaganda, fundraising and disseminating instructional material, but in different ways. While Indonesian online extremism has deep roots, with local networks exploiting various online platforms over the past decade, extremist social media in the Philippines only really took off as a consequence of the May 2017 siege in the southern Philippine city of Marawi by pro-Daesh militants. This paper outlines the evolving use of online platforms by pro-Daesh groups in both countries and how this has enabled extremists to develop and strengthen their networks. Social media and encrypted chat apps have shaped the development of extremism in Indonesia and the Philippines in four main areas: branding, recruitment, fundraising, and the increasing role of women. For groups in the Philippines, direct communication with Daesh headquarters via Telegram facilitated their rebranding as the face of Daesh in Southeast Asia, more than just a local insurgency group. In both countries, social media facilitates vertical and horizontal recruitment, but not lone-actor terrorism. Extremist use of the internet for fundraising is still rudimentary –sophisticated financial cybercrime is still virtually non-existent. In all these aspects, women’s roles have become much more visible. For a long time, women had been barred from accessing extremist public spaces, let alone taking an active role as combatants.1 But through social media, women are now able to play more active roles as propagandists, recruiters, financiers, and even suicide bombers. This paper briefly discusses government responses to online extremism, noting that there have been mixed results between Indonesia and the Philippines. Indonesian authorities have undoubtedly been the more successful of the two regimes – both in terms of law enforcement and engagement with the tech sector – but its counter terrorism police now face the problem of how to judiciously use their powers in a democratic manner. The Philippines, meanwhile, is still at the starting line in terms of dealing with online extremism, with the military more accustomed to removing threats than trying to understand them.
Following The Whack-a-Mole Britian First's Visual Strategy From Facebook To Gab
2019 Nouri,L., Lorenzo-Dus, N. and Watkin, A.L. Article
The focus of this paper is on the extremist group Britain First. As such, it does not explore online terrorist activity but rather examines how a group regarded as extremist is subject to online sanctions. The removal of the extremist group Britain First from Facebook in March 2018 successfully disrupted the group’s online activity, leading them to have to start anew on Gab, a different and considerably smaller social media platform. The removal also resulted in the group having to seek new online followers from a much smaller, less diverse recruitment pool. This paper demonstrates the further impact of the group’s platform migration on their online strategy – particularly on their choice of images and the engagement levels generated through them. The paper puts forward a number of key recommendations, most importantly that social-media companies should continue to censor and remove hateful content.
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.
Shedding Light On Terrorist And Extremist Content Removal
2019 Vegt, I.V.D. Gill, P., Macdonald,S. and Kleinberg, B. Article
Social media and tech companies face the challenge of identifying and removing terrorist and extremist content from their platforms. This paper presents the findings of a series of interviews with Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) partner companies and law enforcement Internet Referral Units (IRUs). It offers a unique view on current practices and challenges regarding content removal, focusing particularly on human-based and automated approaches and the integration of the two.
The platform governance triangle: conceptualising the informal regulation of online content
2019 Gorwa, R. Article
From the new Facebook ‘Oversight Body’ for content moderation to the ‘Christchurch Call to eliminate terrorism and violent extremism online,’ a growing number of voluntary and non-binding informal governance initiatives have recently been proposed as attractive ways to rein in Facebook, Google, and other platform companies hosting user-generated content. Drawing on the literature on transnational corporate governance, this article reviews a number of informal arrangements governing online content on platforms in Europe, mapping them onto Abbott and Snidal’s (2009) ‘governance triangle’ model. I discuss three key dynamics shaping the success of informal governance arrangements: actor competencies, ‘legitimation politics,’ and inter-actor relationships of power and coercion.
A Study Of Outlinks Contained In Tweets Monitoring Rumiya
2019 Macdonald, S., Grinnell, D., Kinzel A., and Lorenzo-Dus, A. Article
This paper focuses on the attempts by Daesh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) to use Twitter to disseminate its online magazine, Rumiyah. It examines a data set of 11,520 tweets mentioning Rumiyah that contained an out link, to evaluate the success of Daesh’s attempts to use Twitter as a gateway to issues of its magazine.
The Neurocognitive Process Of Digital Radicalization - A Theoretical Model And Analytical Framework
2019 Howard, T., Poston, B. and Benning, S. D. Article
Recent studies suggest that empathy induced by narrative messages can effectively facilitate persuasion and reduce psychological reactance. Although limited, emerging research on the etiology of radical political behavior has begun to explore the role of narratives in shaping an individual’s beliefs, attitudes, and intentions that culminate in radicalization. The existing studies focus exclusively on the influence of narrative persuasion on an individual, but they overlook the necessity of empathy and that in the absence of empathy, persuasion is not salient. We argue that terrorist organizations are strategic in cultivating empathetic-persuasive messages using audiovisual materials, and disseminating their message within the digital medium. Therefore, in this paper we propose a theoretical model and analytical framework capable of helping us better understand the neurocognitive process of digital radicalization.
Emotional Effects Of Terroristic Communication - Between Professional Propaganda And Media Coverage
2019 Johann, M. and Oswald, M. Article
Like no other terroristic organization, the Islamic State anchors forms of direct communication in its communication strategy. Although classical mass media still serve as multipliers in order to spread fear, modern terrorists increasingly focus on social media to address relevant recipients. Spreading their messages via mass media, terroristic communicators have to accept balancing media coverage: the classical media framing. With forms of direct communication however they are able to set own strategic communicator frames and narratives. The question arises whether these messages have different effects on recipients than corresponding media reports. In this article we analyze the effects of different forms of terroristic communication on the recipients’ emotions using an experimental design. The results indicate that strategic communicator frames are able to reinforce negative emotions. However, it could be observed that the recipients’ political knowledge and thematic interest are able to reduce the terrorists’ main target: fear.

The article was written in German.
Exploring The Capabilities Of Prevent In Addressing Radicalisation In Cyberspace Within Higher Education
2019 Sandford, L. Article
The Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015) introduced a binding duty on public sector bodies in the United Kingdom (UK), including education, to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. The Prevent duty has become widely controversial in the Higher Education (HE) sector with questions as to whether it contravenes academic freedom and freedom of speech.

This research seeks to identify how Prevent may be applied to cyberspace to reduce risk of students being radicalised online at universities. Through semi-structured interviews (N= 16) with individuals working in Prevent and HE, attention is given to the capability of monitoring and filtering website content, which must be considered by universities as part of Prevent compliance. In addition, non-technical methods of reducing radicalisation in cyberspace are explored. Consideration is given to building students’ resilience to challenging information they see online through developing counter-narrative content for social media platforms. With students developing counter-narrative content themselves, specifically addressing vulnerability drivers to radicalisation, universities can enhance compliance with Prevent and create counter extremist content which can be used in cyberspace both in and outside of HE.
Briefing Note ‘El Rubio’ Lives - The Challenge Of Arabic Language Extremist Content On Social Media Platforms’
2019 Ayad, M. Article
This briefing outlines research uncovering thousands of users viewing extremist content in Arabic language across mainstream social platforms including Facebook and YouTube

The findings emerged as world leaders, policymakers, and technology companies gathered in Jordan earlier this month to discuss counter-terrorism and extremism as part of the Aqaba Process and the convening of the Global Internet Forum for Countering Terrorism (GIFCT).

Researchers identified:

• More than 77 pieces of Arabic content promoting influential Islamist extremists from al-Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as well as affiliates for both organizations, and precursors to both groups on both YouTube and Facebook;
• More than 275,000 users have watched the videos on both Facebook and YouTube;
• The research finds evidence of Islamist extremist supporters sharing content between sites, spreading the content further than their primary YouTube Channels and/or Facebook pages and groups. Approximately 138 individual users have shared links from the YouTube to their networks on Facebook.
Regulating Terrorist Content On Social Media - Automation And The Rule Of Law
2019 Macdonald, S., Correia, S. G. and Watkin, A. L. Article
Social-media companies make extensive use of artificial intelligence in their efforts to remove and block terrorist content from their platforms. This paper begins by arguing that, since such efforts amount to an attempt to channel human conduct, they should be regarded as a form of regulation that is subject to rule-of-law principles. The paper then discusses three sets of rule-of-law issues. The first set concerns enforceability. Here, the paper highlights the displacement effects that have resulted from the automated removal and blocking of terrorist content and argues that regard must be had to the whole social-media ecology, as well as to jihadist groups other than the so-called Islamic State and other forms of violent extremism. Since rule by law is only a necessary, and not a sufficient, condition for compliance with rule-of-law values, the paper then goes on to examine two further sets of issues: the clarity with which social-media companies define terrorist content and the adequacy of the processes by which a user may appeal against an account suspension or the blocking or removal of content. The paper concludes by identifying a range of research questions that emerge from the discussion and that together form a promising and timely research agenda to which legal scholarship has much to contribute.
Responding To The Threat Of Cyberterrorism Through Information Assurance
1999 Ogren, J. G. and Langevin, J. R. MA Thesis
The number of people connecting to the Internet is growing at an astounding rate: estimates range from 100% to 400% annually over the next five years. This unprecedented level of interconnectedness has brought with it the specter of a new threat: cyberterrorism. This thesis examines the impact of this threat on the critical infrastructure of the United States specifically focusing on Department of Defense issues and the National Information Infrastructure (NII). A working definition for cyberterrorism is derived, and a description of the Nation's critical infrastructure is provided. A number of possible measures for countering the threat of cyberterrorism are discussed, with particular attention given to the concept of information assurance.

Information assurance demands that trustworthy systems be developed from untrustworthy components within power-generation systems, banking, transportation, emergency services, and telecommunications. The importance of vulnerability testing (or red-teaming) is emphasized as part of the concept of information assurance. To support this, a cyberterrorist 'red team' was formed to participate in the Marine Corps' Urban Warrior Experiment. The objective of t his thesis is to address the impact of these issues from a Systems Management perspective. This includes taking into account the changes that must occur in order to improve the U.S.' ability to detect, protect against, contain, neutralize, mitigate the effects of, and recover from attacks on the Nation's Critical Infrastructure.
Call Of Duty - Jihad – How The Video Game Motif Has Migrated Downstream From Islamic State Propaganda Videos
2019 Dauber, C. E., Robinson, M. D., Baslious, J. J. and Blair, A. G. Article
From a technical standpoint, Islamic State (IS) videos are demonstrably superior to those of other groups. But as time goes by, their aesthetic is migrating downstream as other groups attempt to copy it. Specifically, IS has turned to video games, regularly mimicking and even directly copying the aesthetic and design of First Person Shooter games, most often Call of Duty, in their videos, and other groups have followed suit. This specific aesthetic offers a way to recruit young, technologically savvy, men while sanitizing the violence they were being recruited to participate in. This study offers an instrument for tracking the IS aesthetic as it moves to other groups as well as its evolution over time, and offers a case study of a specific group that has copied the IS aesthetic, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS.)
Understanding The Expression Of Grievances In The Arabic Twitter-sphere Using Machine Learning
2019 Al-Saggaf, Y. and Davies, A. Article
Purpose 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. Design/methodology/approach 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. Practical implications 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. Originality/value 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.
Daesh Propaganda, Before and After its Collapse
2019 Winter, C. Report
This report compares two archives of official Daesh media that were compiled four years apart. It explores the nuances of the group’s worldview and tracks how external and internal situational exigencies impacted them during its formative years as a caliphate. It finds that the organisation’s media infrastructure was about one-tenth as productive in mid-2019 as it was in mid-2015. The data also show that it was spending more time covering the pursuits of its global network in 2019 than in 2015. Finally, the data point towards a substantial thematic rearrangement in the organisation’s overarching propaganda narrative that manifested in it shifting its story away from millenarian utopianism and towards military denialism. In sum, the data indicate that by 2019 Daesh’s propagandists were far less productive and their aggregate product was more international and less focused on civilian issues. This shift points towards a new phase in the group’s political marketing trajectory, one focused more on survival than on expansion.