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
Documenting Acts of Cruelty
2012 Ball, M. Journal
The substantive focus of this article is a small collection of image-based case studies of significant criminal acts of interpersonal cruelty that are now in the public domain. In all instances those engaged in criminal acts of violence record and document aspects of their own behavior. The case studies range from military personnel and terrorists to examples from popular culture. Self-created images have the potential to serve as evidence of criminal behavior. For the viewing public recorded images are attributed with a “commonsense” evidential documentary potential. The article looks at the documentary method and the rationale behind recorded images serving evidential purposes.
The Original Web of Hate Revolution Muslim and American Homegrown Extremists
2015 Levin, B. Journal
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.
Countering Online Hate Speech
2015 Gagliardone, I., Gal, D., Alves, T. and Martinez, G. Report
The opportunities afforded by the Internet greatly overshadow the challenges. While not forgetting this, we can nevertheless still address some of the problems that arise. Hate speech online is one such problem. But what exactly is hate speech online, and how can we deal with it effectively? As with freedom of expression, on- or offline, UNESCO defends the position that the free flow of information should always be the norm. Counter-speech is generally preferable to suppression of speech. And any response that limits speech needs to be very carefully weighed to ensure that this remains wholly exceptional, and that legitimate robust debate is not curtailed. A typology of responses is elaborated in this study.
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.
This is Not Your Mother’s Terrorism: Social Media, Online Radicalization and the Practice of Political Jamming
2015 Huey, L. Journal
It is commonly recognized that social media presents vast new opportunities for terrorist groups seeking to radicalize audiences. However, few scholars have studied the actual mechanisms by which radicalizing messages are delivered to those audiences. Within this paper, the author explores one key aspect of the phenomenon of ‘jihadi cool’ – that is, the rendering of pro-Islamic terrorism into something hip and trendy among online audiences. Discussed is the use of political jamming: a subversive, satirical activity that draws on humor to reinforce ideological messages. The opportunity for countering these messages through the same technique is also considered.
The Discourse Of Cyberterrorism - Exceptional Measures Call For The Framing Of Exceptional Times
2015 Auwema, N. M. MA Thesis
The configuration of the discourse of cyberterrorism in the Netherlands is a mix of public and private actors that have diverging views about whether cyberterrorism is a genuine security threat. How and why have several of these actors argued that it is a genuine security threat? What was their interest in doing so? Has cyberterrorism possibly been framed or hyped as a genuine security threat? This thesis examines the discourse of cyberterrorism in the Netherlands by examining the field, the position on cyberterrorism of the actors within this field, and finally, their levels of technological capital, legitimacy and authority. Considering the differences in these levels, this thesis contends that public and private actors have different interests in arguing that cyberterrorism is a threat. While public actors are concerned with the protection of Dutch cyberspace and the Dutch society, private actors, with the exception of Fox-IT, have multiple interests. This has led these private actors to frame or hype cyberterrorism as a genuine security threat, without the necessary background to base their statement on. Exceptional measures have led to the framing of exceptional times.
Radicals Online: The Hungarian Street Protests of 2006 and the Internet
The University of Chicago Press Mátay, M. and Kaposi, I. Chapter
Chapter in book, 'Finding the Right Place on the Map', Jakubowicz & Miklos Sükösd (eds.). The chapter looks at the role of the Internet in the street protests in Hungary in 2006 and examines how the protests played out online. Content analysis of extreme right-wing online media (major websites, news portals, mailing lists, discussion forums and online media in the period between 17 September and 4 November 2006)
Radicalisation and the Role of the Internet
2011 Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) Report
A summary of the current understanding of the role of the Internet in relation to extremist and terrorist networks. The paper was prepared by the ISD and the Policy Planners’ Network on Countering Radicalisation and Polarisation (PPN) - Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Communicating war in Mali, 2012: On-offline networked political agency in times of conflict
2015 de Bruijn, M., Pelckmans, L. and Sangare, B. Journal
The Arab Spring raised high expectations for political freedom, especially for situations in which the rapid development of ICT intersects with political oppression and rebellion, as was the case in Mali, West Africa. In 2012 the country’s northern part fell into the hands of ‘rebels’ and jihadists were on the rise. This article tries to understand the development of political agency in relation to the unprecedented access to new ICT of the Fulani nomads and urbanites in the Mopti region (Hayre), who engage increasingly with new actors and networks present in the war zone: ‘rebels’ and jihadists; the diaspora from that region; and the journalistic and academic communities who visit the region. We argue that political agency is emerging in the relation between (newly appearing) information networks in both the on- and off-line worlds. These networked societies are embedded in cultural and social historical specificities of the Sudan-Sahel zone in conflict.
Fatal Attraction: Western Muslims and ISIS
2015 Perešin, A. Journal
More than 550 Muslim women from Western countries have joined ISIS and moved to its proclaimed ‘Caliphate’ in Syria and Iraq. No extremist group has been able to attract so many female Western recruits so far, and their number continues to grow. This article is intended to explain the reasons behind such unprecedented success, the motivation of Western Muslims to join ISIS and their roles in the ‘Islamic State’. It also compares living conditions under ISIS’ rule with the expectation induced by ISIS’ recruiters in women from the West who had shown an interest to make hijra and join ISIS. Understanding these factors is vital to figure out how to stop this trend and to assess the security threat posed to the West by possible female returnees, or radicalised sympathizers who are unable to leave their countries of residence.
The Foreign Fighter Problem – Analyzing The Impact Of Social Media And The Internet
2015 Scaperotto, A. MA Thesis
The current foreign fighter problem has received significant global media attention. Why and how do individuals from relatively affluent Western countries travel to poor and war torn countries to fight in a foreign war? How do social media and the internet impact the process? Ultimately, fighting in a foreign war requires the will and ability to participate, which in turn requires that an individual overcome significant psychological and physical barriers. The process of overcoming these participation barriers and thus the process of becoming a foreign fighter, hinges on four key factors: transnational ideology, close-knit social groups, and transnational resource networks, and a foreign sponsor facilitates the process by integrating the other three factors. Prior to social media and the internet, this process worked through local networks with face-to-face interaction. With the spread of social media and the internet, these networks and interactions have become increasingly global and virtual, increasing audience numbers but also increasing state ability to intervene. Analyzing globalization’s impact, including what has changed and what has stayed the same, is important to understanding the foreign fighter phenomenon both now and in the future.
J M Berger on the Role of Communications Technology in Mediating Apocalyptic Communities
2015 Berger, J.M. Lecture
"Social Apocalypse: The role of communications technology in mediating apocalyptic communities", originally published by Brookings Institution on 28 May 2015
Understanding ISIS Myth and Realities
2015 Abrahms, M. Video
Published on May 29, 2015
This video was streamed live by DMAPLab MIGS on 26 May 2015.

The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has become a household name because it films its atrocities and posts them online thanks to social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube.

Western countries and Arab states appear to be united and see the group as a threat to international peace and security. But what do we really know about ISIS? What should the international community do to cripple ISIS' on the battlefield?

Max Abrahms, professor of political science at Northeastern University and member at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers a unique perception of the relationship between the Islamic State’s propaganda and its success as an organisation.
Letter dated 13 May 2015 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism addressed to the President of the Security Council
2015 Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism Report
The present report is the first in a series focusing on the capacity of Member States to respond to the challenges posed by the foreign terrorist fighter threat. Foreign terrorist fighters pose an acute and growing threat. They increase the intensity, duration and intractability of conflicts and may pose a serious threat to their States of origin, the States they transit and the States to which they travel, as well as States neighbouring zones of armed conflict in which foreign terrorist fighters are active, such as Jordan, that as a result are affected by serious security burdens and often need to commit massive resources to combat the impact, and which are, therefore, themselves victims of terrorism. The threat of foreign terrorist fighters may affect all regions and Member States, even those far from conflict zones. International networks have been established by terrorists and terrorist entities among States through which foreign terrorist fighters and the resources to support them have been channelled back and forth. In exploring the major risks posed by the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon, the report assumes that the threat of terrorist acts resulting from a range of terrorist organizations, including, but not confined to, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Al-Nusrah Front, is rapidly changing and will not be fully geographically contained; that there appears to be virtually no short-term possibility of ending certain threats; and that a significant longer-term risk will derive from “alumni” foreign terrorist fighters upon their return to their own countries or upon their arrival in third countries. The report identifies an urgent need to establish effective flows of information at the national and international levels in the implementation of Security Council resolution 2178 (2014), as noted in Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001) and 2178 (2014), and suggests ways in which that can be done. It draws attention to the significant risks faced by small States due to the possible consequences of returning foreign terrorist fighters, and discusses the human rights implications of possible responses. Future reports will discuss ways to address recruitment, the challenges posed by Internet and communications technologies, exit and entry screening, returning foreign terrorist fighters and other issues. The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate has identified an initial 67 Member States most affected by the acute and growing threat posed by
foreign terrorist fighters, who are defined in Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) as individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflict. In reviewing the implementation of resolution 2178 (2014) by the first group of 21 States, the Executive Directorate has identified the following priority measures to be taken by States to prevent the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.
Neuer Terrorismus Und Neue Medien
2015 Weimann, G. and Jost, J. Journal
Bereits seit den 1990er Jahren gebrauchen TerroristInnen das Internet für ihre Zwecke, das ihnen ganz neue Möglichkeiten für Propaganda, Rekrutierung, Radikalisierung, Finanzierung und Planung eröffnet hat. Statt auf eigene Webseiten setzen TerroristInnen heute zunehmend und gezielt auf die Neuen Medien. Diese bieten eine hervorragende kostenlose Infrastruktur und erlauben es, ein globales Publikum zu erreichen. Dieser Beitrag beschreibt die terroristische Nutzung der drei größten Social Media-Dienste – Facebook, Twitter und YouTube – und das dahinterstehende Kalkül. Besondere Beachtung finden dabei Inhalte mit Bezug zu Deutschland.
Twitter and Jihad: the Communication Strategy of ISIS
2015 Maggioni, M. and Magri, P. Report
The capture of Mosul in the summer of 2014 by the self-styled ‘Islamic State’ appears today much more than a significant military event in the complex scenario of the Middle-East and in the tangled situation of Iraq and Syria. Close observers were not surprised. The establishment of the ‘Islamic State’ has characterized most of the recent history of this part of the world and has shown the ability to benefit from the inability to provide a clear answer to all the deep political and social unrest in this region. The symbol of this constant evolution and transformation is found in the various names that have been adopted over the years, from al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI); Islamic State in Iraq (ISI); Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS); to the current Islamic State (IS). This aspect should not be overlooked.
Benjamin Ducol Le « jihad 2 0 » Discours, Mythes et Réalités
2015 Ducol, B. Lecture
Titre complet : Le « jihad 2.0 » ? : Discours, mythes et réalité(s) autour du rôle des espaces numériques dans les trajectoires jihadistes contemporaines.
The Islamic State's Ideology & Propaganda
2015 Brookings Institution Video
On March 11, the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World convened a panel to launch two new Brookings papers that break down the ideology and social media methods of the Islamic State to trace how the group rose in influence to become a global jihadi movement.
Using KNN and SVM Based One-Class Classifier for Detecting Online Radicalization on Twitter
2015 Agarwal, S. and Sureka, A. Chapter
Twitter is the largest and most popular micro-blogging website on Internet. Due to low publication barrier, anonymity and wide penetration, Twitter has become an easy target or platform for extremists to disseminate their ideologies and opinions by posting hate and extremism promoting tweets. Millions of tweets are posted on Twitter everyday and it is practically impossible for Twitter moderators or an intelligence and security analyst to manually identify such tweets, users and communities. However, automatic classification of tweets into pre-defined categories is a non-trivial problem problem due to short text of the tweet (the maximum length of a tweet can be 140 characters) and noisy content (incorrect grammar, spelling mistakes, presence of standard and non-standard abbreviations and slang). We frame the problem of hate and extremism promoting tweet detection as a one-class or unary-class categorization problem by learning a statistical model from a training set containing only the objects of one class . We propose several linguistic features such as presence of war, religious, negative emotions and offensive terms to discriminate hate and extremism promoting tweets from other tweets. We employ a single-class SVM and KNN algorithm for one-class classification task. We conduct a case-study on Jihad, perform a characterization study of the tweets and measure the precision and recall of the machine-learning based classifier. Experimental results on large and real-world dataset demonstrate that the proposed approach is effective with F-score of 0.60 and 0.83 for the KNN and SVM classifier respectively.
VOX-Pol Discusses Media Strategies of Violent Radical Groups Online
2015 Conway, M. and Brown, I. Video
At the end of January, VOX-Pol's Dr Maura Conway (DCU) and Professor Ian Brown (OII) spoke to Belgian public service broadcaster VRT News on the subject of media strategies used by radical groups online. This a video of the news segment.