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
The Language of New Terrorism: Differences in Psychological Dimensions of Communication in Dabiq and Inspire
2018 Vergani, M., and Bliuc, A-M. Journal
We investigate differences in the psychological aspects underpinning Western mobilisation of two terrorist groups by analysing their English-language propaganda. Based on a computerised analysis of the language used in two English-language online magazines circulated by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Qaeda (i.e., Dabiq and Inspire), we found significant differences in their language—the ISIS’ language being higher in authoritarianism and its level of religiousness. In a follow-up experimental study, we found that being high in religiousness and authoritarianism predicts more positive attitudes towards the language used by ISIS, but not towards the language used by al-Qaeda. The results suggest that ISIS’ propaganda may be more effective in mobilising individuals who are more authoritarian and more focused on religion than that of al-Qaeda. These findings are consistent with the behaviour observed in recent homegrown terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe.
The Language of Radicalization: Female Internet Recruitment to Participation in ISIS Activities
2018 Windsor, L. Journal
Why do young Muslim women radicalize and undertake high-risk political behaviors, and what factors influence their sociopolitical transformation? The process of radicalization happens because of individual, social, and political dynamics, and is facilitated by the availability of computer-mediated communication. Some young Muslim women keep detailed records of their radicalization process via social media, which we use to understand their sociopolitical transformation. By evaluating their language, we can better understand how their personal, social, and political development unfolds. This paper is a case study examining the words of one young Muslim woman, Aqsa Mahmood, who moved from her home in Scotland to join the ISIS fighters in Syria. Her Tumblr blog provides a linguistic, political, and ideological record of the process of her radicalization. We identify linguistic patterns in her blog posts that can help to develop and reveal a typology of the language of female radicalization.
Images of Death and Dying in ISIS Media: A Comparison of English and Arabic Print Publications
2018 Winkler, C., El-Damanhoury, K., Dicker, A., and Lemieux, A.F. Journal
Images of death and dying in the media around the globe have a symbiotic relationship with nation states as they can bolster state control by defining who has the right to take lives in the interests of the community, by identifying enemies of the state, by demonstrating dominance over enemies, and by lending a moral posture to the state’s war efforts. Previously, the growing corpus of research on media’s display of death and about to die images has focused almost exclusively on media outlets that bolster established states on the global stage. By analyzing 1965 death and about to die images displayed in Dabiq, ISIS’s English-language magazine, and al-Naba’, the same group’s Arabic-language newspaper, this study adds an understanding of the messaging strategies deployed by groups striving to challenge, rather than reinforce, existing national boundaries. The findings suggest that while ISIS adopts some standard media practices, it also utilizes unique and audience targeted approaches regarding the frequency of image use, the identify of the corpses, the display of dead bodies, and the presentation of those responsible for the pictured dead bodies in its media campaign.
Violent Extremism and Terrorism Online in 2017: The Year in Review
2018 Conway, M., with Courtney, M. VOX-Pol Publication
The use of the Internet, particularly social media, by violent extremists and terrorists and their supporters received an increasing amount of attention from policymakers, media, Internet companies, and civil society organisations in 2017. In addition to politicians stepping-up their rhetoric regarding the threat posed by consumption of and networking around violent extremist and terrorist online content, prominent and heavily trafficked social media platforms also took a stronger stand on the issue this year, which caused civil liberties organisations considerable disquiet. This report treats developments in the violent extremist and terrorist online scene(s) and responses to them in the 12-month period from 1 December 2016 to 30 November 2017.
GCTF - Zurich-London Recommendations ENG
2018 Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group Report
The Global Counterterrorism Forum published this report to compile a non-exhaustive list of governmental good practices regarding strategic communications and social media aspects in preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism online for GCTF Members – as well as any other interested Government. The good practices expressed in this document were identified in meetings and subsequent discussions with GCTF Members, reflecting their experience in this regard. Moreover, with these recommendations, the GCTF aims to support and complement existing work and initiatives by other international and regional organisations, namely the UN and other relevant stakeholders involved in this context. The good practices are divided into three sections: Section I addresses overarching good practices for preventing and countering violent extremism and terrorism online; Section II addresses good practices for content-based responses; and Section III addresses good practices for communications-based responses.
Music of the Islamic State
2018 Lahoud, N., and Pieslak, J. Journal
Anashid – Islamic a cappella songs – figure prominently in the propagandaconsumption habits of the 17 jihadists who have caused casualties in the United States since 2013.
#TerroristFinancing: An Examination of Terrorism Financing via the Internet
2018 Tierney, M. Journal
This article describes how the internet has come to play a central role in terrorist financing endeavours. Online channels allow terrorist financiers to network with like-minded individuals, in order to increase support, raise funds, and move wealth across the international system. For instance, the Islamic State, Hezbollah, and other groups have become adept at using these channels to finance their activities. Therefore, increased examination is required of the ways in which terrorists use the internet to raise and move funds. This study assesses some of the current trends and risks associated with online terrorist financing. Some policy options are also outlined, in order to reduce the threat of terrorist financing via the internet moving into the future.
Capitalizing on the Koran to Fuel Online Violent Radicalization: A Taxonomy of Koranic References in ISIS’s Dabiq
2018 Frissen, T., Toguslu, E., Van Ostaeyen, P., and d'Haenens, L. Journal
The current study set out to investigate to what extent ISIS is bolstering its jihadist ideology on a ‘cut-and-paste’ or ‘cherry-picked’ version of Islam in their renowned online propaganda magazine Dabiq. The main objective was to examine in a systematic and quantitative way to what extent ISIS utilizes the Koran in an atomistic, truncated and tailored manner to bolster its religious legitimacy. A total of 15 issues of Dabiq and 700 Koranic references were scrutinized. By means of a quantitative analysis we developed an innovative taxonomy of Koranic chapters and verses (i.e. surahs and ayat, respectively) on the basis of their appearance in Dabiq. Our large-scale data analysis provide consistent empirical evidence for severe decontextualization practices of the Koran in three ways: (1) a thin, Medinan-dominated religious layer, (2) ayah mutilation, and (3) clustered versus exclusive mentions. Limitations and implications for future research, policy makers and CVE initiatives are discussed.
The Language of Radicalization: Female Internet Recruitment to Participation in ISIS Activities
2018 Windsor, L. Journal
Why do young Muslim women radicalize and undertake high-risk political behaviors, and what factors influence their sociopolitical transformation? The process of radicalization happens because of individual, social, and political dynamics, and is facilitated by the availability of computer-mediated communication. Some young Muslim women keep detailed records of their radicalization process via social media, which we use to understand their sociopolitical transformation. By evaluating their language, we can better understand how their personal, social, and political development unfolds. This paper is a case study examining the words of one young Muslim woman, Aqsa Mahmood, who moved from her home in Scotland to join the ISIS fighters in Syria. Her Tumblr blog provides a linguistic, political, and ideological record of the process of her radicalization. We identify linguistic patterns in her blog posts that can help to develop and reveal a typology of the language of female radicalization.
Propaganda for Kids: Comparing IS-Produced Propaganda to Depictions of Propaganda in The Hunger Games and Harry Potter Film Series
2018 Elder, K.A. Journal
The Harry Potter and The Hunger Games films are wildly popular with adolescents and adults alike, despite touching on themes that parallel the horrors in our own world’s geopolitical climate. The Islamic State (IS) promotes its own messages of violence, brutality, and even utopia through sophisticated propaganda disseminated via social media. This article discusses the extent to which propaganda depicted in Harry Potter and The Hunger Games approximates—in content and/or medium—that produced by IS in recent years. Propaganda in the Harry Potter films, largely produced in written form, resembles propaganda of the past, whereas propaganda in The Hunger Games makes use of contemporary mediums and techniques that resemble that which originates from IS. It is worthwhile to explore whether fiction provides audiences with a realistic portrayal of propaganda, as it may assist viewers in turning a critical eye toward the themes and technologies that are used in their own world to disseminate propaganda.
Antisemetic content on Twitter
2018 Community Security Trust Report
This report presents an analysis of the
production and propagation of online
antagonistic content related to Jews
posted on Twitter between October 2015
and October 2016 in the UK.
Black-boxing the Black Flag: Anonymous Sharing Platforms and ISIS Content Distribution Tactics
2018 Shehabat, A. and Mitew, T. Journal
The study examines three anonymous sharing portals employed strategically by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) to achieve its political ends. This study argues that anonymous sharing portals such as Sendvid.com, Justpast.it, and Dump.to have been instrumental in allowing individual jihadists to generate content, disseminate propaganda and communicate freely while routing around filtering practiced by popular social media networks.The study draws on Actor Network Theory (ANT) in examining the relationship between ISIS jihadists and the emergence of anonymous sharing portals. The study suggests that, even though used prior to the massive degrading operation across social media, anonymous sharing portals were instrumental in allowing ISIS to maintain its networking structure in the face of coordinated disruption.
Watching ISIS: How Young Adults Engage with Official English-language ISIS Videos
2018 Cottee S., and Cunliffe, J. Journal
Research on jihadist online propaganda (henceforth JOP) tends to focus on the production, content and dissemination of jihadist online messages. Correspondingly, the target of JOP – that is, the audience – has thus far attracted little scholarly attention. This article seeks to redress this neglect by focusing on how audiences respond to jihadist online messaging. It presents the findings of an online pilot survey testing audience responses to clips from English-language ISIS videos. The survey was beset at every stage by ethical, legal and practical restrictions, and we discuss how these compromised our results and what this means for those attempting to do research in this highly sensitive area.
Counter Conversations: A Model for Direct Engagement with Individuals Showing Signs of Radicalisation Online
2018 Davey, J., Birdwell, J., and Skellet, R. Report
This report outlines the results of a programme trialling
a methodology for identifying individuals who are
demonstrating signs of radicalisation on social media,
and engaging these individuals in direct, personalised
and private ‘counter-conversations’ for the purpose of
de-radicalisation from extremist ideology and
disengagement from extremist movements. This is
the first programme globally which has trialled the
delivery of online interventions in a systematised
and scaled fashion.
The Mediums and the Messages: Exploring the Language of Islamic State Media through Sentiment Analysis
2018 Macnair, L. and Frank, R. Article
This study applies the method of sentiment analysis to the online media released by the Islamic State (IS) in order to distinguish the ways in which IS uses language within their media, and potential ways in which this language differs across various online platforms. The data used for this sentiment analysis consist of transcripts of IS-produced videos, the text of IS-produced online periodical magazines, and social media posts from IS-affiliated Twitter accounts. It was found that the language and discourse utilised by IS in their online media is of a predominantly negative nature, with the language of videos containing the highest concentration of negative sentiment. The words and phrases with the most extreme sentiment values are used as a starting point for the identification of specific narratives that exist within online IS media. The dominant narratives discovered with the aid of sentiment analysis were: 1) the demonstrated strength of the IS, 2) the humiliation of IS enemies, 3) continuous victory, and 4) religious righteousness. Beyond the identification of IS narratives, this study serves to further explore the utility of the sentiment analysis method by applying it to mediums and data that it has not traditionally been applied to, specifically, videos and magazines.
Tweet... If You Dare: How Counter-Terrorism Laws Restrict Freedom of Expression in Spain
2018 Amnesty International Report
Social media users, journalists, lawyers
and musicians have been prosecuted
under Article 578 of the Spanish
Criminal Code, which prohibits “glorifying
terrorism” and “humiliating the victims
of terrorism”. Although this provision
was first introduced in 2000, it is only in
recent years, following its amendment
in 2015, that prosecutions and convictions
under Article 578 have sharply risen.
The result is increasing self-censorship
and a broader chilling effect on freedom
of expression in Spain.
Islamic State’s English-language Magazines, 2014-2017: Trends & Implications for CT-CVE Strategic Communications
2018 Ingram, H.J. Article
Islamic State (IS) has used English-language magazines as a crucial component of its propaganda strategy, particularly targeting Muslims living in the West. This paper provides a quick reference guide to IS’s English-language magazines released between June 2014 and September 2017 examining key themes and propaganda strategies deployed across three issues of Islamic State News, four issues of Islamic State Report, fifteen issues of Dabiq and thirteen issues of Rumiyah. It concludes by highlighting four trends and their implications for CT-CVE strategic communications practitioners. First, IS use a mix of rational- and identity-choice appeals to provide its various target audiences with a ‘competitive system of meaning’ which CT-CVE strategic communication efforts must seek to dismantle with careful campaign and message design. Second, over the period of 2014-17 IS appears to have deployed a thematic ‘hedging’ strategy characterised by certain messaging themes being prioritised over others during periods of boom versus bust. By identifying the signatures of IS’s use of propaganda ‘hedging’, CT-CVE practitioners can be better prepared to confront current and future challenges from IS propagandists. Third, IS’s English-language magazines must be understood within the context of trends across its broader propaganda effort. To effectively address this multifaceted threat, CT-CVE practitioners would benefit from applying the KISMI (Keep It Simple Maximise Impact) principle of rolling-out a strategic communications campaign. Finally, the appearance of instructional material in IS propaganda highlights the need for post-incident CT-CVE strategic communication plans to undermine the strategic logic of so-called “inspired” attacks.
Cultivating Trust and Perceptions of Source Credibility in Online Counternarratives Intended to Reduce Support for Terrorism
2018 Braddock, K., and Morrison, J.F. Journal
Terrorism researchers have long sought to identify methods for challenging terrorist ideologies. The construction and dissemination of counternarratives has begun to receive substantial attention as a means of doing so. However, the effectiveness of this approach is contingent on message targets’ trust in the counternarrative's content and source. This article draws from literatures on trust and online source credibility to offer preliminary guidelines for cultivating trust in counternarratives and their sources. By encouraging trust in this manner, practitioners can reduce the likelihood that their counternarratives will be dismissed by their intended audiences—a perpetual challenge to strategic messaging geared towards countering violent extremism.
Encouraging Counter-Speech by Mapping the Contours of Hate Speech on Facebook in India
2018 Mirchandani, M., Goel, O., and Sahai, D. Report
Efforts at Countering Violent Extremism (or CVE in internationally
accepted terminology) online have become an important focus for all social
networks. CVE targets violent, extremist ideologies at their core, tackling
them via alternate narratives that focus on peace-building through
community interaction. It has thus become an invaluable tool to supplement
counterterrorism strategies worldwide.
A Tale Of Two Caliphates: Comparing the Islamic State's Internal and External Messaging Priorities
2018 Mahlouly, D., and Winter, C. VOX-Pol Publication
In recent years, the media department of the self-proclaimed Islamic State has proven itself to be highly adept at strategic communication. While much research has gone into the group’s digital and online capabilities, there remains a significant gap in the knowledge regarding its in-country propaganda operations and objectives. In recognition of this, the following research paper approaches the issue from a different angle, attempting to better understand how and why the group communicates its brand through the lens of two publications – al-Naba’, its Arabic-language newspaper, which appears to be designed primarily for offline dissemination in the caliphate itself, and Rumiyah, its foreign-language electronic magazine, which has only ever appeared online. Using content analysis to identify and compare each publication’s internal (local) and external (global) media priorities over the four-month period between September and December 2016, we develop an empirical evaluation of the group’s recent forays into targeted outreach.