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
Terrorism and the Making of the ‘New Middle East’: New Media Strategies of Hizbollah and al Qaeda
2007 Conway, M. Chapter
Chapter, "Terrorism and the making of the 'New Middle East'", in book: Seib, Philip, (ed.) New media and the new Middle East
Terrorism and the Mass Media after Al Qaeda: A Change of Course?
2008 Torres Soriano, M.R. Journal
This article analyzes the possible relationship between terrorist groups and the media. As an example, a case study on the Al Qaeda organization will be used. Our methodology will involve analyzing the content of its public statements and examining the developments that have taken place during its history as an organization. Both perspectives suggest that terrorism’s view of the media, far from being composed of rigorous ideological or political principles, is shaped by their calculations of
estimated opportunities. Its perception of the mass media, has depended on its perception of estimated media impact. This has determined three stages during its history: 1) Hostility toward media that it has held responsible for hiding or distorting its message; 2) Adaptation to a new environment where there are networks
that are willing to interpret reality from a perspective similar to the jihadist point of view 3) Exploitation of the Internet as an indirect means of obtaining the mass media’s attention.
Terrorism and the Proportionality of Internet Surveillance
2009 Brown, I., Douwe, K. Journal
As the Internet has become a mainstream communications mechanism, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have developed new surveillance capabilities and been given new legal powers to monitor its users. These capabilities have been particularly targeted toward terrorism suspects and organizations that have been observed using the Internet for communication, propaganda, research, planning, publicity, fundraising and creating a distributed sense of community. Policing has become increasingly pre-emptive, with a range of activities criminalized as `supporting' or `apologizing for' terrorism. The privacy and non-discrimination rights that are core to the European legal framework are being challenged by the increased surveillance and profiling of terrorism suspects. We argue that their disproportionate nature is problematic for democracy and the rule of law, and will lead to practical difficulties for cross-border cooperation between law enforcement agencies.
Terrorism and the Proportionality of Internet Surveillance
2009 Brown, I., Douwe, K. Journal
As the Internet has become a mainstream communications mechanism, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have developed new surveillance capabilities and been given new legal powers to monitor its users. These capabilities have been particularly targeted toward terrorism suspects and organizations that have been observed using the Internet for communication, propaganda, research, planning, publicity, fundraising and creating a distributed sense of community. Policing has become increasingly pre-emptive, with a range of activities criminalized as `supporting' or `apologizing for' terrorism. The privacy and non-discrimination rights that are core to the European legal framework are being challenged by the increased surveillance and profiling of terrorism suspects. We argue that their disproportionate nature is problematic for democracy and the rule of law, and will lead to practical difficulties for cross-border cooperation between law enforcement agencies.
Terrorism as Process Narratives: A Study of Pre-Arrest Media Usage and the Emergence of Pathways to Engagement
2017 Holbrooke, D., and Taylor, M. Journal
Terrorism is a highly irregular form of crime where multiple factors combine to create circumstances that are unique to each case of involvement, or attempted involvement, in terrorist violence. Yet, there are commonalities in the way in which efforts to become involved unfold as processes, reflected as sequential developments where different forces combine to create conditions where individuals seek to plan acts of violence. The best way to frame this involvement is through analytical approaches that highlight these procedural dimensions but are equally sensitive to the nuances of each case. Analysing pre-arrest media usage of convicted terrorists, this paper focuses on the ways in which belief pathways and operational pathways interact in five distinct cases of terrorist involvement in the UK in what are termed ‘process narratives’.
Terrorism Counterterrorism And The Internet
2015 Mueller, M. and Stewart, M.G. Journal
This article assesses the cases that have come to light since 9/11 of Islamist extremist terrorism, whether based in the United States or abroad, in which the United States itself has been, or apparently has been, targeted. Information from them is used to evaluate how the Internet (including various forms of electronic communication) has affected several aspects of the terrorism enterprise in the United States: radicalization, communication, organization, and the gathering of information. In general, it is found that the Internet has not been particularly important. Although it has been facilitating in some respects, it has scarcely ever been necessary. In some respects, the Internet more fully aids efforts to police terrorism – although this is mainly due to the incompetence and amateurishness of would-be terrorists. In other respects, however, the Internet, and the big data compilations it makes possible, greatly increase the costs and complications of the counterterrorism quest.
Terrorism Financing with Virtual Currencies – Can Regulatory Technology Solutions Combat this?
2017 Salami, I. Journal
This article considers the terrorism financing risk associated with the growth of Financial Technology (FinTech) innovations and in particular, focuses on virtual currency (VC) products and services. The ease with which cross-border payments by virtual currencies are facilitated, the anonymity surrounding their usage and their potential to be converted into the fiat financial system, make them ideal for terrorism financing and therefore calls for a coordinated global regulatory response. This article considers the extent of the risk of terrorism financing through virtual currencies in ‘high risk’ States by focusing on countries that have been recently associated with terrorism activities. It assesses the robustness of their financial regulatory and law enforcement regimes in combating terrorism financing and considers the extent to which Regulatory Technology (RegTech) and its global standardisation, can mitigate this risk.
Terrorism, Communication and New Media: Explaining Radicalization in the Digital Age
2015 Archetti, C. Journal
This article aims to demonstrate that a greater understanding of communication in the 21st century is essential to more effective counterterrorism. In fact, while “strategic communication” and “narratives” are advocated by many analysts as essential weapons in countering extremism, few seem to truly understand the reality of the digital-age information environment where such tools need to be deployed. To contribute to bridging this gap, the article outlines some problematic misunderstandings of the contemporary information environment, provides an alternative communication-based framework to explain radicalization, and draws some counterintuitive lessons for tackling terrorism.
Terrorism, Islamophobia, And Radicalization
2017 Tamar, M. PhD Thesis
Why do ordinary people become supportive of violent, extremist ideologies? Over the past several years, tens of thousands of individuals across the world have become attracted to propaganda disseminated by the Islamic State (ISIS), and many have left their home countries to join the organization. This dissertation closely examines possible explanations for pro-ISIS radicalization in Europe and the United States. I argue that anti-Muslim hostility is an important driver of pro-ISIS radicalization, leading individuals who feel isolated to become attracted to the organization's propaganda. I also contend that groups like ISIS are aware of this pattern, and thus seek to purposefully provoke hostility against potential supporters by carrying out terrorist attacks. I maintain that efforts to stop radicalization should focus on ways to reduce hostility and increase the inclusion of minorities in the West. The various dissertation papers empirically examine different aspects of these arguments. In the first paper, I examine whether anti-Muslim hostility might be driving pro-ISIS radicalization in Europe, by analyzing the online activity of thousands of ISIS sympathizers in France, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. Matching online radicalization indicators with offline data on vote share for far-right, anti-Muslim parties, I show that the intensity of anti-Muslim hostility at the local (neighborhood/municipality) level strongly correlates with support for ISIS on Twitter. In addition, I show that events that stir anti-Muslim sentiments, such as terrorist attacks and anti-Muslim protests, lead ISIS sympathizers to significantly increase pro-ISIS rhetoric, especially in areas with high far-right support. In the second paper, I argue that armed groups strategically use terrorism to manipulate levels of anti-Muslim hostility in Western countries. I test whether terrorism leads to greater expressions of anti-Muslim hostility using data on thirty-six terrorist attacks perpetrated by radical jihadists in the West from 2010 to 2016, examining how they shaped anti-Muslim attitudes among individuals in targeted countries. I find that individuals systematically and significantly increase the posting of anti-Muslim content on social media after exposure to terrorism. The effect spikes immediately after attacks, decays over time, but remains significantly higher than pre-attack levels up to a month after the events. The results also reveal that the impact of terrorist attacks on anti-Muslim rhetoric is similar for individuals who already expressed hostility to Muslims before the attacks and those who did not. Finally, I observe that the impact of terrorist attacks on anti-Muslim hostility increases with attacks resulting in greater numbers of casualties.  In the third paper, I examine what might be done to stop online radicalization and support for ISIS in the West. I collected data on community engagement events performed in the United States by the Obama Administration, which aimed to increase trust and relationships between the Muslim population and the American government, and combined them with high-frequency, geo-located panel data on tens of thousands of individuals in America who follow Islamic State accounts on Twitter. By analyzing over 100 community engagement events in a Difference-in-Differences design, I find that community engagement activities are systematically and significantly associated with a reduction in pro-ISIS rhetoric on Twitter among individuals located in event areas. In addition, the observed negative relationship between community engagement activities and pro-ISIS rhetoric is stronger in areas that held a large number of these events.
Terrorism, the Internet and the Social Media Advantage: Exploring How Terrorist Organizations Exploit Aspects of the Internet, Social Media and how these Same Platforms could be used to Counter-Violent Extremism
2016 Bertram, L. Journal
The deeply engrained nature of social media in modern life have provided ease of access to information and speed of use within almost every aspect of a person’s life. These same benefit are also available to terrorists and their organizations. The same technology that allows for a globalized world to interact without regard for distance or physical location is also utilized, exploited and adapted to by terrorist organizations to conduct operations, reach candidates and ensure organizational longevity.



This article takes the position of observer of these advancements with the end goal of informing counter-violent extremism strategists of the advances that terrorist groups have already made in digital technology; and where the priority of intervention strategies should be aimed. Further, this is intended to guide policy makers to embrace and utilize digital technologies as a mechanism to carry counter-radicalization and counter-violent extremism interventions through the same digital potential and reach the same audiences as terrorist organizations. What appears strongly apparent is that social media will not abate from its intrinsic position graphed into daily life. This means that counter-terrorism, counter-radicalization and counter-violent extremism strategies must take up the same technology in order to effectively discredit and nullify extremist groups – a digital problem needs a digital solution.

Terrorisme i Cyberspace: Udfordringer ved Organisering og Udførelse af Politisk Vold Online
2015 Teglskov Jacobsen, J. Article
Internettet præsenteres ofte som et farligt redskab i hænderne på terrorister. Det er dog ikke nødvendigvis sandheden. Artiklen trækker på indsigter fra studier af sunniekstremistiske grupper, Anders B. Breivik og Anonymous og diskuterer terroristers anvendelse af internettet i organiseringen og udførelsen af terrorisme. Jeg vil argumentere for, at det anarkiske og anonyme internet fører mistillid og fragmentering med sig, hvilket gør det sværere for grupper at opretholde en fælles strategi og det fælles fjendebillede. Artiklen styrker derfor fortællingen om, at det hovedsageligt er ekskluderede og socialt marginaliserede enspændere, der ender med at planlægge voldshandlinger i isolation bag computerskærmen. I forlængelse heraf vil jeg pege på, at hovedparten af potentielle terrorister drages af fysisk interaktion,
våben og eksplosioner – og ikke udviklingen af komplekse cybervåben.
Terrorist Financing and the Internet
2010 Jacobson, M. Journal
While al Qaeda has used the Internet primarily to spread its propaganda and to rally new recruits, the terrorist group has also relied on the Internet for financing-related purposes. Other Islamist terrorist groups, including Hamas, Lashkar e-Taiba, and Hizballah have also made extensive use of the Internet to raise and transfer needed funds to support their activities. The Internet's appeal in this regard for terrorist groups is readily apparent–offering a broad reach, timely efficiency, as well as a certain degree of anonymity and security for both donors and recipients. Unfortunately, while many governments now recognize that the Internet is an increasingly valuable tool for terrorist organizations, the response to this point has been inconsistent. For the U.S. and its allies to effectively counter this dangerous trend, they will have to prioritize their efforts in this area in the years to come.
Terrorist Migration to the Dark Web
2016 Weimann, G. Journal
The terms Deep Web, Deep Net, Invisible Web, or Dark Web refer to the content on the World Wide Web that is not indexed by standard search engines. The deepest layers of the Deep Web, a segment known as the Dark Web, contain content that has been intentionally concealed including illegal and anti-social information. The conventional Surface Web was discovered to be too risky for anonymity-seeking terrorists: they could be monitored, traced, and found. In contrast, on the Dark Web, decentralized and anonymous networks aid in evading arrest and the closure of these terrorist platforms. This paper reports some of the recent trends in terrorist use of the Dark Web for communication, fundraising, storing information and online material.
Terrorist Use of Internet: Possible Suggestions to Prevent the Usage for Terrorist Purposes
2012 Nesip Ogun, M. Journal
As new developments occur everyday in technology, terrorists are easily adjusting themselves to this change. In this new age of terrorism, terrorism is transnational, institutionalized, technologically advanced, and global. In this respect, today's terrorist organizations are using the Internet for different purposes. The Internet has become the new and main source of communication in terms of disseminating propaganda for terrorist activities. Almost all terrorist organizations are exploiting the Internet for their terrorist purposes and broadcasting propaganda through their Web sites. This study is focused on the exploitation of Internet by terrorist organizations for their activities and as a case study interviews were conducted to find out the solutions to overcome terrorist networks in terms of terrorist use of Internet. Terrorism in general, Internet, and propaganda terms were studied and some solutions were proposed in terms of Internet usage of terrorist organizations.
Terrorist Use of the Internet and the Challenges of Governing Cyberspace
2007 Conway, M. Chapter
Chapter: "Terrorism, the Internet, and international relations: the governance conundrum", in: Dunn Cavelty, Myriam and Mauer, Victor and Krishna-Hensel, Sai Felicia, (eds.) Power and Security in the Information Age: Investigating the Role of the State in Cyberspace.
Terrorist Use of the Internet by the Numbers
2017 Gill et. al Journal
Public interest and policy debates surrounding the role of the Internet in terrorist activities is increasing. Criminology has said very little on the matter. By using a unique data set of 223 convicted United Kingdom–based terrorists, this article focuses on how they used the Internet in the commission of their crimes. As most samples of terrorist offenders vary in terms of capabilities (lone-actor vs. group offenders) and criminal sophistication (improvised explosive devices vs. stabbings), we tested whether the affordances they sought from the Internet significantly differed. The results suggest that extreme-right-wing individuals, those who planned an attack (as opposed to merely providing material support), conducted a lethal attack, committed an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, committed an armed assault, acted within a cell, attempted to recruit others, and engaged in nonvirtual network activities and nonvirtual place interactions were significantly more likely to learn online compared with those who did not engage in these behaviors. Those undertaking unarmed assaults were significantly less likely to display online learning. The results also suggested that extreme-right-wing individuals who perpetrated an IED attack, associated with a wider network, attempted to recruit others, and engaged in nonvirtual network activities and nonvirtual place interactions were significantly more likely to communicate online with co-ideologues.
Terrorist Use of the Internet by the Numbers: Quantifying Behaviors, Patterns, and Processes
2017 Gill, P., Corner, E., Conway, M., Thornton, A., Bloom, M. and Horgan, J. VOX-Pol Publication
Public interest and policy debates surrounding the role of the Internet in terrorist activities is increasing. Criminology has said very little on the matter. By using a unique data set of 223 convicted United Kingdom–based terrorists, this article focuses on how they used the Internet in the commission of their crimes. As most samples of terrorist offenders vary in terms of capabilities (lone-actor vs. group offenders) and criminal sophistication (improvised explosive devices vs. stabbings), we tested whether the affordances they sought from the Internet significantly differed. The results suggest that extreme-right-wing individuals, those who planned an attack (as opposed to merely providing material support), conducted a lethal attack, committed an improvised explosive device (IED) attack, committed an armed assault, acted within a cell, attempted to recruit others, and engaged in non-virtual network activities and non-virtual place interactions were significantly more likely to learn online compared with those who did not engage in these behaviours. Those undertaking unarmed assaults were significantly less likely to display online learning. The results also suggested that extreme-right-wing individuals who perpetrated an IED attack, associated with a wider network, attempted to recruit others, and engaged in non-virtual network activities and non-virtual place interactions were significantly more likely to communicate online with co-ideologues.

This article is a revised and updated version of the 2015 VOX-Pol report 'What are the Roles of the Internet In Terrorism? Measuring Online Behaviors of Convicted UK Terrorists.'
Terrorist Use of Virtual Currencies
2017 Goldman, Z., Maruyama, E., Rosenberg, E., Saravalle, E. and Solomon-Strauss, J. Report
This paper explores the risk that virtual currencies (VCs) may become involved in the financing of terrorism at a significant scale. VCs and asso-
ciated technologies hold great promise for low cost, high speed, verified transactions that can unite coun- terparties around the world. For this reason they could appear appealing to terrorist groups (as they are at present to cybercriminals). Currently, however, there is no more than anecdotal evidence that terrorist groups have used virtual currencies to support themselves. Terrorists in the Gaza Strip have used virtual currencies to fund operations, and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) members and supporters have been particularly receptive to the new technology, with recorded uses in Indonesia and the United States.

Most terrorist funding now occurs through traditional methods such as the hawala system, an often informal and cash-based money transfer mechanism, and estab- lished financial channels.1 If VCs become sufficiently liquid and easily convertible, however, and if terrorist groups in places such as sub-Saharan Africa, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa obtain the kinds of technical infra- structure needed to support VC activity, then the threat may become more significant. The task of the law enforcement, intelligence, regu- latory, and financial services communities, therefore, must be to prevent terrorist groups from using VCs at scale. The use of VCs by “lone wolf ” terrorists—a much bigger potential threat because of the small scales of funding needed to execute an attack—represents the kind of problem in intelligence and digital forensics that law enforcement agencies are well equipped to handle, even if they tax existing resources.

Attacking terrorists’ use of virtual currency at scale is a challenging task for many stakeholders. New finan- cial technology firms often lack the resources to comply effectively with oversight obligations, while regulators have tended to devote few resources to non-bank institu- tions. At the same time, different countries have adopted varying approaches to the regulation of virtual curren- cies, posing an enforcement challenge in a globalized field that requires a unified response. Finally, the privi- leging of prevention over management of illicit finance risk in the compliance world has created an incentive structure for banks that does not, ironically, push them toward innovative approaches to countering terrorist financing, including via virtual currencies.

The counterterrorist financing community should adopt three guiding principles that will provide the foundation for policies aimed at countering both the new virtual currency threat and the broader illicit finance danger. First, policy leaders should prioritize the coun- tering of terrorist financing over other kinds of financial crime. Second, the policy and regulatory posture should be oriented toward rewarding and incentivizing innova- tion. Third, policymakers should emphasize and create a practical basis for strengthening coordination between the public and private sectors on terrorist financing. These approaches form the foundation of an effective response to existing and emerging terrorist financing threats and will balance the burden of regulatory com- pliance with the policy need to support innovative new virtual currency technologies.
Terrorist Web Sites: Their Contents, Functioning, and Effectiveness
2005 Conway, M. Chapter
This extract is taken from the author's original manuscript and has not been edited. The definitive version of this piece may be found in New Media and the New Middle East by Philip Seib which can be purchased from www.palgrave.com
Terrorist ‘Radicalising Networks’: A Qualitative Case Study on Radical Right Lone-Wolf Terrorism
2017 Feldman, M. Book
The threat posed by terrorism today is changing rapidly—as have methods of study of this phenomenon, including analysis of radicalisation and the ‘terrorist cycle’. This chapter takes a qualitative approach to one aspect of contemporary terrorism, self-directed (‘lone wolf’) terrorism by right-wing extremists. Predominately plaguing the USA at first, solo actor terrorism by fascist extremists crossed the Atlantic in 1999 with David Copeland’s attacks in London, and most horrifically with Anders Behring Breivik’s murder of 77 people in Oslo and Utøya in 2011. Like these two terrorist murderers, the two case studies discussed here, Neil Lewington and Ian Davison, were also radicalised online through ‘passive’ and ‘active’ networks of support. Although interdicted before committing acts of terrorism, the different pathways of online radicalisation by Lexington and Davison are the central subject here.