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
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.
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.
Cyber jihadists and Their Web
2015 Berton, B. and Pawlak, P. Policy
Policy advice for EU member states on how to tackle jihadist online recruitment techniques.
Panel on Monitoring the Net for Violent Extremist Material, organised by VOX-Pol at CPDP2015
2015 Panel on Monitoring the Net for Violent Extremist Material at CPDP2015 Video
Panel on Monitoring the Net for Violent Extremist Material, organised by VOX-Pol at CPDP2015
VOX-Pol: An Introduction
2015 VOX-Pol Video
VOX-Pol: An Introduction
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.
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.
Cyber-security In The European Region - Anticipatory Governance And Practices
2015 Munk, T. H. PhD Thesis
This thesis explores the nature of cyber security at the beginning of the 21st century. In the current security paradigm, security strategies based on anticipatory governance have become essential in the management of the constantly changing cyber security environment. Thus, this thesis aims to understand security strategies and governance introduced in the European region. The increased dependency on cyber space is visible in all public private sectors and governmental operations, as well as communications between groups and individuals. As a result, cyber attacks on public and private entities are increasing. This requires a security framework that is flexible and establishes different types of security cooperation to manage the widespread cyber risks. This is essential to the development of security strategies, governance forms, practices, and guidelines for enhancing resilience and preparedness towards cyber risks. Therefore, I am examining cyber security through the lenses of nodal governance and governmentality, which enables me to understand European cyber security strategies and governance forms developed by the Council of Europe, the European Union, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. To analyse existing strategies and governance forms, I have used two critical security schools, the Copenhagen School and the Paris School, which cover different aspects of the security agenda. The thesis develops a substantive analytical framework through two case studies, namely cyber security and cyber terrorism. The findings in this thesis identifies problem areas, such as the complexity of the nodal system, the legislative lacuna, reliance on different governance forms, transparency and accountability, and types of anticipatory governance and regulatory practices.