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 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.


Full Listing

“Flexible” capital accumulation in Islamic State social media
2015 Richards, I. Journal
This article explores online social media produced by the neo-jihadist group “Islamic State” (IS) from a political-economic perspective. Using a framework developed by anthropologist David Harvey, it examines how IS social media operates within depoliticised neoliberal environments characterised by “flexible” regimes of capital accumulation. It explicates how IS acquires political-economic capital by evoking “spectacle”, “fashion” and a “commodification of cultural forms”. Drawing from Christian Fuchs’ informational theory, the article also considers the roles of agency and competition in accumulation processes where “knowledge and technology reinforce each other”. By revealing how IS both constitutes and is constituted by its flexible approach to social media, the article seeks to illuminate avenues for better understanding neo-jihadist ideations.
Social media and counterterrorism strategy
2015 Aistrope, T. Journal
With the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the issue of domestic radicalisation has taken on renewed significance for Western democracies. In particular, attention has been drawn to the potency of ISIS engagement on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Several governments have emphasised the importance of online programs aimed at undermining ISIS recruitment, including the use of state-run accounts on a variety of social media platforms to respond directly to ISIS messaging. This article assesses the viability of online counter-radicalisation by examining the effectiveness of similar programs at the US State Department over the last decade. The article argues that governments attempting to counter online radicalisation of their domestic populations must take seriously the significant shortcomings of these State Department programs. The most relevant issue in this regard is the recurring problem of credibility, when the authenticity of government information is undercut by the realities of foreign policy practice, and existing perceptions of hypocrisy and duplicity are reinforced in target audiences.
Going Dark: Terrorism on the Dark Web
2015 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. One can describe the Internet as composed of layers: the “upper” layer, or the Surface Web, can easily be accessed by regular searches. However, “deeper” layers, the content of the Deep Web, have not been indexed by traditional search engines such as Google. Michael K. Bergman who wrote the seminal paper on the Deep Web, compared searching the Internet to dragging a net across the surface of the ocean: a great deal may be caught in the net, but there is a wealth of information that is deeper and therefore missed. In fact, most of the Web's information is buried far down on sites, and standard search engines are unable to access it.
You Too Can Be Awlaki
2011 Brachman, J.M. and Levine, A.N. Article
Cyberculture and the Endurance of White Power Activism
2006 Simi, P. and Futrell, R. Article
Drawing from ethnographic and documentary data, this article examines the character of the social spaces that white power movement (WPM) activists create on the Internet and the linkages to their real world activism. Specifically, we explain how white power activists use cyberspace as a free space to create and sustain movement culture and coordinate collective action. The WPM's cyberpresence intersects with and enhances their real world activities by offering multiple opportunities for access and coordination. Virtual contact with the WPM community offers members social support, companionship, and a sense of belonging to a community of Aryan believers. We argue that real and virtual spaces are not completely separate spheres but rather closely inter-twined. Consequently, virtual spaces provide an opportunity to parallel and extend the type of interaction present in real world free spaces that are so critical to nurturing and sustaining white power movement culture. Cyberspace is being used to connect all sorts of people, yet the character of those connections is unclear. Some observers argue that cyberspace is a new place of assembly where real world social communities can be established, sustained, or renewed as virtual communities. In The Virtual Community (1993), Howard Rheingold argues the Intemet introduced a new form of community that can help bring people together on-line around shared values and interests, and create ties of support that extend their real world collective interaction. Sherry Turkle (1995:267), a pioneer in studies of identity and interaction on the Intemet, claims that the virtual realm offers "a dramatic Please direct correspondence to Pete Simi,. We want to thank editors Dobratz and Waldner and the anonymous JPMS reviewers for their helpful suggestions on earlier drafts of this article.

Spreading the Message Digitally: A Look into Extremist Organizations’ Use of the Internet
2015 Davies, G., Frank,R., Bouchard,M. and Mei, J. Chapter
Why would a terrorist choose to utilize the Internet rather than the usual methods of assassination, hostage taking, and guerrilla warfare? Conway (2006) identified five major reasons why extremist groups used the Internet: virtual community building, information provision, recruitment, financing, and risk mitigation. Terrorist and extremist organizations can use the Internet to increase their visibility and provide information about the group along with its goals without posing an increased risk to the members. It also allows them to easily ask for, and accept, donations through anonymous financial services such as Dark Coins. These benefits allow these groups to promote awareness of their cause, to convey their message to, and perhaps foster sympathy from a much larger pool of potential supporters and converts (Weimann 2010). Finally, the Internet also provides asynchronous services with global access, with the sender and recipient located at any place, at any time, without the need to link up at a specific time (Wagner 2005). In short, unlike the real world, cyberspace is borderless without limitation, and this makes identification, verification, and attribution a challenge.
Online Terrorism and Online Laws
2015 Walkera, C. and Conway, M. Journal
Terrorist and extremist movements have long exploited mass communications technology in pursuit of their political ends. The advent of the internet offers new opportunities. In response, state counter-measures seek to stem the impact of extreme ideologies by a number of tactics. “Positive” measures refer to those online initiatives that seek to make an impact through digital engagement and education and the provision of counter-narratives. “Negative” measures describe those approaches that advocate for, or result in, the deletion or restriction of violent extremist online content and/or the legal sanctioning of its online purveyors or users. More sanctions-based outcomes arise through discretionary state activity such as warnings and counselling of vulnerable individuals, or through disruptive counter-measures such as bans on the giving of lectures or prohibitions on the entry into the country of speakers or the taking down of extremist internet sites. Other measures step over into criminal justice, as when individuals are prosecuted for collecting materials or information (including typically information downloaded from the internet) or for issuing messages which can be construed as direct or indirect incitements to terrorism. This paper will analyse the responses to extremist uses of the internet, with an emphasis upon legal responses – “online laws”.
Parere n. 2014-3 sull’articolo 9 del progetto di legge mirante al rafforzamento delle disposizioni relative alla lotta contro il terrorismo
2014 Consiglio nazionale per il digitale Report
Il Consiglio nazionale per il digitale è stato interpellato riguardo all’articolo 9 del progetto di legge
mirante a rafforzare le disposizioni relative alla lotta contro il terrorismo. Tali disposizioni modificano
l’articolo 6 della Legge del 21 giugno 2004 intesa a promuovere la fiducia nell’economia digitale (LCEN),
prevedendo il blocco da parte dell’autorità amministrativa dei siti responsabili della diffusione di frasi o
immagini che incitano a commettere atti di terrorismo o ne fanno l’apologia. Esse ampliano altresì il
campo degli strumenti di notifica imposti ai provider.
Nell’intento di esprimere un parere il più possibile informato, il Consiglio nazionale per il digitale ha
proceduto ad una quindicina di audizioni che hanno riunito esperti di terrorismo (sociologi, giornalisti,
rappresentanti di associazioni), magistrati e avvocati specializzati nel settore, rappresentanti della
società civile, membri dei servizi di informazione e professionisti dell’ambito digitale (l’elenco completo è
disponibile in allegato).
Avis n°2014-3 sur l’article 9 du Projet de loi Renforçant les Dispositions Relatives à la Lutte Contre le Terrorisme
2014 Conseil national du numérique Report
Le Conseil national du numérique a été saisi le 25 juin 2014 de l’article 9 du projet de loi renforçant les
dispositions relatives à la lutte contre le terrorisme. Ces dispositions modifient l’article 6 de la loi du 21
juin 2004 pour la confiance dans l’économie numérique (LCEN) en prévoyant le blocage administratif des
sites diffusant des propos ou images provoquant à la commission d’actes terroristes ou en faisant
l’apologie. Elles élargissent également le champ des outils de notification imposés aux prestataires
Afin de rendre un avis le plus éclairé possible dans le court délai imparti, le Conseil a procédé à une
quinzaine d’auditions, réunissant des experts du terrorisme (sociologues, journalistes, représentants
d’associations), de magistrats et avocats spécialisés, des représentants de la société civile, des
membres des services de renseignement et des professionnels du numérique (liste complète disponible
en annexe).
Opinion No. 2014-3 on Article 9 of the Bill on Scaling Up Counter-Terrorism Provisions
2014 French Digital Council Report
The French Digital Council has been given a mandate to examine Article 9 of the bill on scaling up
counter-terrorism provisions. These provisions amend Article 6 of the Act of 21 June 2004 on confidence
in the digital economy (LCEN) by providing for the administration to block websites containing speech
and/or images constituting incitement to terrorism or in defence of terrorism. They also extend the scope
of the notification tools that technical service providers are bound to use.
The French Digital Council has held fifteen interviews with terrorism experts (sociologists, journalists and
association representatives), specialised lawyers and judges, civil society representatives, intelligence
agency members and digital professionals (full list available in the appendix) to be able to deliver as fully
informed an opinion as possible.
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.
Daily Press Briefing: Haiti, General Assembly, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Nepal
2015 Dujarric, S. Video
Noon Briefing by Stephanie Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary General
Histories of Hating
2015 Shepherd, T. and Harvey, A. Journal
This roundtable discussion presents a dialogue between digital culture scholars on the seemingly increased presence of hating and hate speech online. Revolving primarily around the recent #GamerGate campaign of intensely misogynistic discourse aimed at women in video games, the discussion suggests that the current moment for hate online needs to be situated historically. From the perspective of intersecting cultural histories of hate speech, discrimination, and networked communication, we interrogate the ontological specificity of online hating before going on to explore potential responses to the harmful consequences of hateful speech. Finally, a research agenda for furthering the historical understandings of
contemporary online hating is suggested in order to address the urgent need for scholarly interventions into the exclusionary cultures of networked media.
The Anti-Terrorist Advertising Campaigns in the Middle East
2013 Al-Rawi, A.K. Journal
The anti-terror public media campaigns started in Iraq around 2004 and was called ‘Terror has no Religion’ in order to combat the threats of sectarianism and Al-Qaeda. After the withdrawal of the US forces from the country in late 2010, the campaign stopped, but a new and similar one emerged that is called ‘Say no to Terror’ whose advertisements mostly targeted the Saudi public. Several Pan-Arab regional channels like Al-Arabiya and Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) were part of airing its advertisements. This study focuses on the ‘Terror has no Religion’ and ‘Say no to Terror’ campaigns by critically examining their websites and videos to understand the nature of messages sent to the public. Further, the study examines the effectiveness of the two campaigns with special emphasis on ‘Say no to Terror’ by analyzing comments posted on YouTube and discussing the counter campaign. Over 350 videos were found containing counter arguments to ‘Say no to Terror’ campaign, and about 60% of YouTube commentators viewed the campaign negatively, expressing suspicion about its real intentions. The paper concludes that the success of such public service advertisements is doubtful due to the format of the message as well as cultural and political reasons that are linked to the region.
Cyber Propaganda- From How to Start a Revolution to How to Beat ISIS
2015 Pomerantsev, P. and Elledge, K. Article
Improved Lexicon-Based Sentiment Analysis for Social Media Analytics
2015 Jurek, A., Mulvenna M.D. and Bi, Y. Journal
Social media channels, such as Facebook or Twitter, allow for people to express their views and opinions about any public topics. Public sentiment related to future events, such as demonstrations or parades, indicate public attitude and therefore may be applied while trying to estimate the level of disruption and disorder during such events. Consequently, sentiment analysis of social media content may be of interest for different organisations, especially in security and law enforcement sectors. This paper presents a new lexicon-based sentiment analysis algorithm that has been designed with the main focus on real time Twitter content analysis. The algorithm consists of two key components, namely sentiment normalisation and evidence-based combination function, which have been used in order to estimate the intensity of the sentiment rather than positive/negative label and to support the mixed sentiment classification process. Finally, we illustrate a case study examining the relation between negative sentiment of twitter posts related to English Defence League and the level of disorder during the organisation’s related events.
Syria's Electronic Armies
2015 Ruhfus, J. Video
Over the last four years as the Syrian uprising has grown into a full-blown civil war, a sinister parallel conflict has been fought out in cyberspace, with combatants wielding bytes and software rather than guns as they have battled for supremacy on Syria's internet frontline.

But the consequences of this secret cyber war have been real and deadly - particularly for opponents of the Assad regime who have been targeted for arrest and torture as a consequence of personal information gleaned from their email traffic.

In some cases even the military plans of crucial rebel offensives had been hacked. But the opposition has been busy too, leaking President Bashar al-Assad's embarrassing personal correspondence and eavesdropping on government troop deployments amid much else.

As a consequence Syria's civil war has become fertile ground for 'hacktivists' from both sides - egged on and in some cases assisted by governments and agencies from outside the region.

In this special investigation for People & Power , Juliana Ruhfus has been finding out why some experts believe Syria's electronic armies have been drawing up the blueprints for all wars of the future, conflicts that transcend traditional physical boundaries but which can be just as significant as those fought with tanks and missiles.
Sectarian Twitter War: Sunni-Shia Conflict and Cooperation in the Digital Age
2015 Siegal, A. Report
Amid mounting death tolls in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, sectarian discourse is
on the rise across the Arab world—particularly in the online sphere, where
extremist voices are amplified and violent imagery and rhetoric spreads rapidly.
Despite this, social media also provides a space for cross-sectarian discourse
and activism. Analysis of over 7 million Arabic tweets from February to August
2015 suggests that violent events and social network structures play key roles
in the transmission of this sectarian and countersectarian rhetoric on Twitter.
Boko Haram and the Discourse of Mimicry: a Critical Discourse Analysis of Media Explanations for Boko Haram’s Improved Video Propaganda Quality
2015 Wyszomierski, L.E. Journal
The Nigeria-based violent non-state actor Boko Haram is increasingly reported on in the news media in relation to the Islamic State, another, more prominent, violent non-state actor. In particular, these comparisons have been drawn within the context of reports on Boko Haram’s recent improvement in video propaganda quality. While the associations with the Islamic State are often warranted, there are broader social consequences when colonial power relations are brought into play. Borrowing an approach from critical discourse analysis, 16 online English-language news articles were read through a postcolonial lens in order to analyse the structural relations of dominance that arise when discussing African non-state actors. The analysis revealed that among the corpus of articles, nine developed a discourse of mimicry, which serves to deny Boko Haram full agency, relegate them to a silenced subaltern status, and ultimately to diminish the sense of threat posed to the dominant geopolitical security paradigm.
Jean-Paul Laborde (CTED) and Humera Khan (Muflehun) on Terrorism Online - Media Stakeout (17 December 2015)
2015 Laborde, J.P. and Khan, H. Video
Informal comments to the media by Mr. Jean-Paul Laborde, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of CounterTerrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and Mrs. Humera Khan, Executive Director of Muflehun, on terrorism online.