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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
The Virtual Sanctuary of Al-Qaeda and Terrorism in an Age of Globalisation
|Chapter in Johan Eriksson, Giampiero Giacomello, 'International Relations and Security in the
Digital Age' - The fusion of globalisation and terrorism in the 21 century created a new, adaptable and complex form of ‘networked’ asymmetric adversary. For al-Qaeda and its successor affiliates Internet has become not just a virtual sanctuary, where every dimension of the global jihad is taking place online. In many ways cyberspace has created a virtual university of jihad with advice available anytime to any militant. It was also more than a functional tool to enhance its communication, to promote its ideology, recruit, fundraise and even train. For al-Qaeda and its progeny, cyberspace constitutes a type of central nervous system as it remains critical to its viability in terms of structure and even more as a movement. Some have even argued that al- Qaeda has become the “first guerrilla movement in history to migrate from physical space to cyberspace.”
How Journalists Verify User-Generated Content During Terrorist Crises. Analyzing Twitter Communication During the Brussels Attacks
|2017||Raushfleisch, A., Artho, X., Metag, J., Post, S. and Schafer, M.||Journal|
|Social media, and Twitter in particular, have become important sources for journalists in times of crises. User-generated content (UGC) can provide journalists with on-site information and material they otherwise would not have access to. But how they source and verify UGC has not yet been systematically analyzed. This study analyzes sourcing and verification practices on Twitter during the Brussels attacks in March 2016. Based on quantitative content analysis, we identified (1) the journalists and news organizations sourcing during the attacks, (2) classified different forms of sourcing and verification requests, and (3) analyzed the sourced UGC. Results show that sourcing on Twitter has become a global phenomenon. During the first hours of the attack, journalists rely on UGC. Their sourcing and verification practices vary widely and often lack basic verification procedures, which leads to a discussion about the ethical implications of sourcing practices.|
Detection Of Jihadism In Social Networks Using Big Data
|2019||Rebollo, C. S., Puente, C., Palacios, R., Piriz, C., Fuentes, J. P. and Jarauta, J.||Article|
|Social networks are being used by terrorist organizations to distribute messages with the intention of influencing people and recruiting new members. The research presented in this paper focuses on the analysis of Twitter messages to detect the leaders orchestrating terrorist networks and their followers. A big data architecture is proposed to analyze messages in real time in order to classify users according to diferent parameters like level of activity, the ability to infuence other users, and the contents of their messages. Graphs have been used to analyze how the messages propagate through the network, and this involves a study of the followers based on retweets and general impact on other users. Ten, fuzzy clustering techniques were used to classify users in profiles, with the advantage over other classifcations techniques of providing a probability for each profile instead of a binary categorization. Algorithms were tested using public database from Kaggle and other Twitter extraction techniques. The resulting profiles detected automatically by the system were manually analyzed, and the parameters that describe each profile correspond to the type of information that any expert may expect. Future applications are not limited to detecting terrorist activism. Human resources departments can apply the power of profle identification to automatically classify candidates, security teams can detect undesirable clients in the financial or insurance sectors, and immigration officers can extract additional insights with these
Countering Terrorist Narratives
|2017||Reed, A., Ingram, H.J., and Whittaker, J.||Policy|
|This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for
Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the LIBE Committee,
provides an overview of current approaches to countering terrorist narratives. The
first and second sections outline the different responses developed at the global
and European Union levels. The third section presents an analysis of four different
approaches to responding to terrorist narratives: disruption of propaganda
distribution, redirect method, campaign and message design, and government
communications and synchronisation of message and action. The final section
offers a number of policy recommendations, highlighting five interrelated ‘lines of
effort’ essential to maximising the efficiency and effectiveness of counterterrorism
and countering violent extremism strategic communication.
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.
Understanding Psycho-Sociological Vulnerability of ISIS Patronizers in Twitter
|2017||Reganti, A., Maheshwari, T., Das, A., Chakraborty, T., and Kumaraguru, P.||Article|
|The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a Salafi jihadist militant group that has made extensive use of online social media platforms to promulgate its ideologies and evoke many individuals to support the organization. The psycho- sociological background of an individual plays a crucial role in determining his/her vulnerability of being lured into joining the organisation and indulge in terrorist activities, since his/her behavior largely depends on the society s/he was brought up in. Here, we analyse five sociological aspects – personality, values & ethics, optimism/pessimism, age and gender to understand the psycho-sociological vulnerability of individuals over Twitter. Experimental results suggest that psycho-sociological aspects indeed act as foundation to discover and differentiate between prominent and unobtrusive users in Twitter.|
Cybercrimes against the Electricity Infrastructure - Exploring Hacker and Industry Perceptions
|2012||Rege, A.||PhD Thesis|
|The US electricity infrastructure uses Industrial Control Systems (ICS) to oversee its operations. These systems are connected online for better efficiency, making them susceptible to cyberattacks. Current research has extensively addressed ICS vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Vulnerabilities, however, are only one of the many factors influencing offender decision-making in cyberattacks. Furthermore, numerous conceptions of threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences exist, which further complicate ICS security assessments. This exploratory study therefore has two main goals. First, it seeks to compare industry and hacker perceptions on electricity ICS threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences. Second, it seeks to identify a broader set of factors that influence offender decision-making in ICS cyberattacks.
Routine activity and rational choice theories guided this study. Nine preliminary offender decision-making factors were organized to create the PARE RISKS framework: Prevention Measures; Attacks and Alliances; Result; Ease of Access; Response and Recovery; Interconnectedness and Interdependencies; Security Testing, Assessments, and Audits; Knowledge, Skills, Research and Development; and System Weaknesses. A total of 323 participants from both industry and (ethical) hacking communities completed PARE RISKS surveys, which were analyzed using non-parametric statistical tests and exploratory factor analysis. Seven interviews were conducted and subjected to a thematic analysis to supplement survey findings.
The hypotheses that guided this research were all confirmed. It was found that hackers and industry experts differed in their perceptions of threats, consequences, system vulnerabilities and prevention measures. Hackers were more likely than industry respondents to believe that cybercriminals accessed hacking forums, exploited internet and email access, and exploited poor password practices. Industry respondents were more likely than hackers to believe that the desired outcomes of cyberattacks included information corruption, inaccurate information processing, and denial/disruption of service.
The PARE RISKS framework was also found to be useful in identifying factors in the pre-attack and attack-in-progress environments that influenced offender decision-making. Hackers and industry respondents believed that cybercriminals engaged in extensive research to select targets; used an assortment of techniques; operated in anonymous, compartmentalized groups; required adequate skills, money, and time; and employed cost-benefit analysis and strategic attack plans both before and during attacks.
Framing the Troubles Online: Northern Irish groups and website strategy
|Can the Internet really make a difference for groups who wish to either support or challenge a peace process? This book explores the ways in which civil and uncivil groups in Northern Ireland use the Internet during a period of conflict transformation, with a particular emphasis on their framing of their positions in respect of the acceptability of political violence and their attitudes to the peace process. In this way it represents the first comparative study of how Loyalist and Republican ideologies are projected in the online sphere. The book considers whether there are any qualitative differences between the online framing of terrorist-linked groups and the constitutional parties in the region. These research issues are addressed through the analysis of Loyalist and Republicans websites in 2004 and 2005, a period before the advent of Web 2.0 in which these websites were the only visible presence of these actors in cyberspace. The book concludes by considering the implications of these website strategies for community relations in Northern Ireland today. The websites of rival residents’ groups are examined to determine whether the Internet is a safe environment in which these groups can foster better cross-community relations, and perhaps even bridging social capital, across sectarian interfaces. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of political communication, Northern Ireland, the Internet and civil society.|
Framing Online Communications Of Civil And Uncivil Groups In Post Conflict Northern Ireland
|2007||Reilly, P.||PhD Thesis|
|This thesis explores the ways in which civil and uncivil groups in Northern Ireland use the Internet to generate soft power. This research assesses whether the Internet creates a critical multiplier effect for marginal groups, such as terrorists and interface communities. A coding scheme, adapted from previous studies of political part websites, is used to determine whether these groups have realised the potential of the Internet as a tool for political mobilisation. The dissertation considers whether there are any qualitative differences between the online framing of terrorist-linked parties and the constitutional parties in the region.|
"Linksextremismus im Internet", Extremismus in Deutschland
|2004||Reinhardt, A. and Reinhardt, B.||Report|
|Die Autoren nehmen sich des Problems der Nutzung des Internets durch Linksextremisten an und analysieren die unterschiedlichen "Gesichter“ des linksextremismus im Internet.|
Systematic Analysis in Counterterrorism: Messages on an Islamist Internet- Forum
|2008||Renfer, M.A. and Haas, H.S.||Journal|
|The article describes a systematic approach used by the Swiss Intelligence Service (SAP). The procedure described is illustrated by the authentic case of messages among extremists going on the Website www.islamic-minbar.com, a case that was prosecuted and brought to verdict by the Attorney General of the Swiss Confederation.|
Analysing labels, associations, and sentiments in Twitter on the Abu Sayyaf kidnapping of Viktor Okonek
|2017||Reyes, J.A.L. and Smith, T.||Journal|
|This article investigates Twitter data related to the kidnapping case of two German nationals in the southern region of the Philippines by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). It explores perceptions of the ASG, along with associated organizations and sentiments indicated in the tweets together with statistically significant relationships. Findings revealed that: “Rebel” and “Militant” were the most frequently used labels for the ASG; a majority of the tweets contained sentiments that assess threats such as abduction and kidnapping of hostages; and almost half contained words that indicate negotiation or concession to the demands of the captors. Logistic regression analyses on “Rebel” and “Islamist” revealed positive coefficients for these sentiments used as predictors. This meant that people who assessed threats and expressed sentiments that responders should concede to the captors’ demands were more likely to use the “Rebel” or “Islamist” labels. Rather than the two longstanding dominant narratives of the ASG as terrorists and criminals, the emerging rebel and militant labels suggest a more domestically and politically sensitive Twitter commentary than is represented in the work of the Al-Qaeda-centric paradigm exponents. These findings, along with the complex associated political and policy contexts and implications, are discussed in this article.|
Mainstreamed online extremism demands a radical new response
|Online extremism has changed, and censorship by content removal or account suspension alone cannot counteract it. We need a radical new response, argues Louis Reynolds.|
Digital Citizens: Countering Extremism Online
|2016||Reynolds, L., Scott, R.||Article|
|The last half century has witnessed a burgeoning information revolution that has transformed our societies beyond recognition. The development of sophisticated computing, the technological reorientation of vast segments of the global workforce, the invention of the internet and most recently the proliferation of social media technology has radically changed the ways we work, live, develop and communicate. Political extremism and violent radicalism have not been excluded from this growing trend, with social media being used as a tool for the recruitment and exploitation of young people by extremist groups.
As a result, the development of digital citizenship in our young people, to help them navigate these new online challenges, has become an urgent need. British schools are responsible for identifying and building resilience against radicalisation as part of their duty of care. Many of the skills required to combat the influence of extremism and the ability of terrorist groups to exploit and manipulate young people are already taught in schools, through existing personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education and citizenship efforts, the British values agenda and the work of individual school leaders and teachers. However, there is a dearth of high-quality resources designed to increase the resilience of young people to extremism and radicalisation in a digital context.
This report summarises the results of a pilot project which seeks to address this gap by developing, testing and evaluating new resources to help schools tackle online radicalisation. Based on the analysis of a survey of existing materials and a best practise review, it presents a digital citizenship intervention, developed by Demos and Bold Creative, designed to build this resilience to extremism, and measures its impact through a pilot study delivered in schools. At a time when the growth of social media combined with the influence of extremism makes it more important than ever, this report adds to the public evidence base regarding counter-extremism interventions in a school context, and contributes to the development of effective education for digital citizens.
German Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq
|2016||Reynolds, S.C.||MA Thesis|
|This thesis examines why approximately 700 German foreign fighters traveled to Syria and Iraq between early 2012 and late 2015. It presents the author’s original research on 99 German foreign fighter profiles, examining their preexisting network connections in Germany as well as their biographical availability and integration into German society. The study finds that German foreign fighters are primarily mobilized through traditional social network connections and that the mobilizing network in Germany consists of a nationwide, interconnected, and politically active “Salafist scene.” The project also finds that while Western governments often worry about the looming threat of online radicalization, verifiable examples of purely Internet-based radicalization remain rare.|
Ethical and Legal Issues Surrounding Academic Research into Online Radicalisation: a UK Experience
|There is a growing body of evidence that terrorists/terrorist groups have increased their use of the Internet to include a move into online social network environments in their efforts to radicalise and potentially recruit and mobilise new members. Both the US and UK governments acknowledge that not enough is known about this phenomenon and there is an urgent need for more substantive research in the area of terrorists' use of computer-mediated communication. However, research in this area carries with it some serious ethical and legal concerns that cannot and should not be ignored. UK law makes it difficult for terrorism studies researchers and other academics to conduct this online research without potentially violating the law. With careful consideration of the ethical concerns surrounding the methods of data collection, and knowledge of and adherence to Data Protection laws, along with notification of proposed research to the proper law enforcement office to insure compliance with the UK Terrorism Act, it is however possible to move forward with academic integrity and a reasonable assurance that one will not be charged and prosecuted for violations of the Terrorism Acts.|
Pulling Back The Curtain - An Examination Of The English Defence League And Their Use Of Facebook
|2015||Reynolds, T.||PhD Thesis|
|As social media becomes an integral part of our daily lives, and groups seek to utilize this medium to facilitate activism, understanding the nature of these communications and the impact of the content on the individual user becomes a valid area of interest. When one then considers that extremist and terrorist groups have found social media to be an inexpensive and effective means for communication, radicalization, recruitment and member mobilization, the need for this understanding becomes critical. This research seeks to provide just such an understanding in its examination of Far-Right English Defence League and their use of Facebook during a period of increased activism and online growth. Important elements of this work include an understanding of the legal and ethical issues surrounding the collection of online content, particularly in extremist environments; the role of traditional media in their coverage of the group and whether the comments of the members reflect the group’s mission statement of the characterization of traditional media; the ability to enhance data segregation and analysis through the development and use of specialized software; and most importantly the findings from the data analysis. Contained within these findings is an understanding of the intricacies of online participation in extremist social media. These include insights into overall traffic generation, the use of links within communications and their impact on the member traffic, and how the group narrative put forth by the administrator is reflected in the dialogue of the users. The most important finding was an understanding of individual user participation within the group and how, even with such an inexpensive and pervasive media outlet, activist groups still struggle to overcome the problem of participation. That this knowledge can be applied in a meaningful way in counter extremist and counterterrorism efforts was an interesting and satisfying development.|
Iraqi Insurgents' Use Of Youtube As A Strategic Communication Tool- An Exploratory Content Analysis
|2009||Rheanna, R.||PhD Thesis|
|This dissertation study is a baseline investigation into Iraqi insurgents' use of YouTube as a strategic communication tool. The study utilized a content analysis of videos from October 28, 2008, to December 1, 2008, for the search term 'Iraqi resistance' on YouTube that met stated criteria. Overall framing devices and themes found in the collection of videos were examined. While not a random sample, the collection of videos was selected as a representation of the overall population of Iraqi insurgent videos for the time frame examined. Along with a more open interpretation of frames, the study examined those which may be used to recruit and/or send anti-U.S. sentiment. It builds upon previous research in related areas and applies theory with a focus on Social Identity, Diffusion of Innovation, Cultivation, and Framing in an attempt to explore the phenomenon. The methodological design establishes a baseline for future comparison and study since the topic of Iraqi insurgents' use of YouTube has yet to be examined extensively in the academic arena. Overall, there were 54 videos that met set criteria examined for this study. Of these, most were documentary attacks. While there were 28 Iraqi insurgent groups represented in the videos, only 4 Iraqi insurgent groups were identified in five or more videos. These were Islamic State of Iraq (25.9%, n=14), Iraqi Resistance (24.2%, n=13), Ansar al-Islam (18.5%, n=10), and Jaish al-Mujahideen (13%, n=7). Two of these four groups have a media arm devoted to creating their video content and acting as a media representative to the public and members of the group. There was not a large difference in quality or appeals used between groups with and without a media arm. Analysis of the data suggested Iraqi insurgent groups are using YouTube to recruit and send Anti-U.S. sentiment. There was a presence of several framing devices some of which included religious, nationalistic, anti-U.S., intimidation, and defenses. Overall, videos in the sample had a large presence of violence depicted, especially against U.S. military members.|
'Like Sheep Among Wolves': Characterizing Hateful Users on Twitter
|2018||Ribeiro,M.H., Calais, P.H., Santos, Y.A., Almeida, A.F., and Meira, W. Jr.||Article|
|Hateful speech in Online Social Networks (OSNs) is a key challenge
for companies and governments, as it impacts users and advertisers,
and as several countries have strict legislation against the practice.
This has motivated work on detecting and characterizing the phenomenon
in tweets, social media posts and comments. However,
these approaches face several shortcomings due to the noisiness of
OSN data, the sparsity of the phenomenon, and the subjectivity of
the definition of hate speech. This works presents a user-centric
view of hate speech, paving the way for better detection methods
and understanding. We collect a Twitter dataset of 100, 386 users
along with up to 200 tweets from their timelines with a randomwalk-based
crawler on the retweet graph, and select a subsample
of 4, 972 to be manually annotated as hateful or not through crowdsourcing.
We examine the difference between user activity patterns,
the content disseminated between hateful and normal users, and
network centrality measurements in the sampled graph. Our results
show that hateful users have more recent account creation dates,
and more statuses, and followees per day. Additionally, they favorite
more tweets, tweet in shorter intervals and are more central in the
retweet network, contradicting the “lone wolf” stereotype often associated
with such behavior. Hateful users are more negative, more
profane, and use less words associated with topics such as hate,
terrorism, violence and anger. We also identify similarities between
hateful/normal users and their 1-neighborhood, suggesting strong
A Dialectical Approach To Online Propaganda Australia S United Patriots Front Right Wing Politics And Islamic State
|This article examines how the United Patriots Front (UPF), an Australian far-right organization, has communicated its ideology with reference to right-wing politics in Australia, Western Europe, and the United States, and through allusions to Islamic State. The investigation uses critical discourse and documentary analysis and a framework derived from the theory of Pierre Bourdieu to analyze textual and audiovisual postings on UPF Facebook pages, YouTube channels, and Twitter accounts. Relevant to the discussion are Bourdieu’s interdependent theories on “doxa” as a condition in which socially constructed phenomena appear self-evident, and “habitus” and “field,” which explain how structures and agents, through their reflexive behavior, become dialectically situated.|