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.

Featured

Full Listing

TitleYearAuthorTypeLinks
Tackling Extremism Online
2016 Russell, J. Video
Jonathan Russell, Head of Policy at Quilliam, talks to Sky News #digitalview about how everyone, not just governments, can help challenge extremist propaganda.

#digitalview, Sky News (23/01/16)

Quilliam is the world’s first counter-extremism think tank set up to address the unique challenges of citizenship, identity, and belonging in a globalised world. Quilliam stands for religious freedom, equality, human rights and democracy.
Countering Militant Islamist Radicalisation on the Internet: A User Driven Strategy to Recover the Web
2007 Ryan, J. Book
A strategy to counter violent radicalisation on the Internet must be user driven, empowering Internet users with “cultural intelligence”. Cultural intelligence is essentially shorthand for an understanding of the key pillars of, and vulnerabilities inherent in, militant Islamist rhetoric. What this report calls “Enabling Stakeholders”, such as schools, and religious and community organisations, can disseminate this knowledge, thereby empowering Internet users to choose whether and how to challenge the call to violence.
Modified Frequency-Based Term Weighting Scheme for Accurate Dark Web Content Classification
2014 Sabbah, T. and Selamat, A. Chapter
Security informatics and intelligence computation plays a vital role in detecting and classifying terrorism contents in the web. Accurate web content classification using the computational intelligence and security informatics will increase the opportunities of the early detection of the potential terrorist activities. In this paper, we propose a modified frequency-based term weighting scheme for accurate Dark Web content classification. The proposed term weighting scheme is compared to the common techniques used in text classification such as Term Frequency (TF), Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IFD), and Term Frequency- Relative Frequency (tf.rf), on a dataset selected from Dark Web Portal Forum. The experimental results show that the classification accuracy and other evaluation measures based on the proposed scheme outperforms other term weighting techniques based classification.
The Next Generation of Terror
2009 Sageman, M. Article
The world's most dangerous jihadists no longer answer to al Qaeda. The terrorists we should fear most are self-recruited wannabes who find purpose in terror and comrades on the Web. This new generation is even more frightening and unpredictable than its predecessors, but its evolution just may reveal the key to its demise.
A Semantic Graph-Based Approach for Radicalisation Detection on Social Media
2017 Saif, H., Dickinson, T., Kastler, L., Fernandez, M., and Alani, H. Article
From its start, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) has been successfully exploiting social media networks, most notoriously Twitter, to promote its propaganda and recruit new members, resulting in thousands of social media users adopting a pro-ISIS stance every year. Automatic identification of pro-ISIS users on social media has, thus, become the centre of interest for various governmental and research organisations. In this paper we propose a semantic graph-based approach for radicalisation detection on Twitter. Unlike previous works, which mainly rely on the lexical representation of the content published by Twitter users, our approach extracts and makes use of the underlying semantics of words exhibited by these users to identify their pro/anti-ISIS stances. Our results show that classifiers trained from semantic features outperform those trained from lexical, sentiment, topic and network features by 7.8% on average F1-measure.
On the Role of Semantics for Detecting pro-ISIS Stances on Social Media
2016 Saif, H., Fernandez, M., Rowe, M, and Alani, H. Article
From its start, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) has been successfully exploiting social media networks, most notoriously Twitter, to promote its propaganda and recruit new members, resulting in thousands of social media users adopting pro-ISIS stance every year. Automatic identification of pro-ISIS users on social media has, thus, become the centre of interest for various governmental and research organisations. In this paper we propose a semantic-based approach for radicalisation detection on Twitter. Unlike most previous works, which mainly rely on the lexical and contextual representation of the content published by Twitter users, our approach extracts and makes use of the underlying semantics of words exhibited by these users to identify their pro/anti-ISIS stances. Our results show that classifiers trained from words’ semantics outperform those trained from lexical and network features by 2% on average F1-measure.
The Chosen: An Examination Of Extremist Muslim Narratives, Discourse And Ideologies In Cyberspace
2011 SAIFUDEEN, O.A. PhD Thesis
This thesis examines extremist Muslim narratives, discourse, and ideologies over the internet by using content analysis to thematically delineate and reconstruct them for the purpose of discovering the argumentation mechanisms through which they become persuasive and appealing. The research problem is that dominant theories in social sciences and popular literature create 'taken for granted' inferences that relegate extremist ideologies and narratives to the realm of structural contingencies, psychological pathologies, emotive appeal, manipulated religious ideologies, peculiar and unique rationalities or group dynamics. This thesis hypothesizes instead of the existence of a `logical structure` in extremist Muslim narratives. This logical structure is predicated on rationally persuasive arguments (which employ epistemic and instrumental rationality coupled with inductive/deductive reasoning) that appeal to any rational individual but are ultimately leveraged on for morally wrong end-state choices. Unfortunately much of the counter-narratives today seldom address this logical structure and choose to address the more traditional explanations cited above. Themes and argumentation mechanisms stemming from an examination of extremist Muslim narratives in this study demonstrate the presence and workings of this logical structure.
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.
Assemblages Of Radicalism: The Online Recruitment Practices Of Islamist Terrorists
2014 Salihu, F. PhD Thesis
This dissertation explores the various online radicalization and recruitment practices of groups like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, as well as Salafi Jihadists in general. I will also outline the inadequacies of the federal government's engagement with terrorist / Islamist ideologies and explore the ways in which early 20th century foundational Islamist theorists like Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, and Abul ala Mawdudi have affected contemporary extremist Islamist groups, while exploring this myth of the ideal caliphate which persists in the ideology of contemporary extremist Islamist groups. In a larger sense, I am arguing that exploitation of the internet (particularly social networking platforms) in the radicalization of new communities of followers is much more dangerous than cyberterrorism (as in attacks on cyber networks within the government and the private sector), which is what is most often considered to be the primary threat that terrorists pose with their presence on the internet. Online radicalization should, I argue, be given more consideration when forming public policy because of the immediate danger that it poses, especially given the rise of microterrorism. Similarly, through the case studies that I am examining, I am bringing the humanities into the discussion of extremist (religious) rhetorics, an area of discourse that those scholars have largely ignored.
Anatomy of Online Hate: Developing a Taxonomy and Machine Learning Models for Identifying and Classifying Hate in Online News Media
2018 Salminen, J., Almerekhi, H., Milenković, M., Jung, S.G., An, J., Kwak, H. and Jansen, B.J. Article
Online social media platforms generally attempt to mitigate hateful expressions, as these comments can be detrimental to the health of the community. However, automatically identifying hateful comments can be challenging. We manually label 5,143 hateful expressions posted to YouTube and Facebook videos among a dataset of 137,098 comments from an online news media. We then create a granular taxonomy of different types and targets of online hate and train machine learning models to automatically detect and classify the hateful comments in the full dataset. Our contribution is twofold: 1) creating a granular taxonomy for hateful online comments that includes both types and targets of hateful comments, and 2) experimenting with machine learning, including Logistic Regression, Decision Tree, Random Forest, Adaboost, and Linear SVM, to generate a multiclass, multilabel classification model that automatically detects and categorizes hateful comments in the context of online news media. We find that the best performing model is Linear SVM, with an average F1 score of 0.79 using TF-IDF features. We validate the model by testing its predictive ability, and, relatedly, provide insights on distinct types of hate speech taking place on social media.
Exploring The Capabilities Of Prevent In Addressing Radicalisation In Cyberspace Within Higher Education
2019 Sandford, L. Article
The Counter Terrorism and Security Act (2015) introduced a binding duty on public sector bodies in the United Kingdom (UK), including education, to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. The Prevent duty has become widely controversial in the Higher Education (HE) sector with questions as to whether it contravenes academic freedom and freedom of speech.
This research seeks to identify how Prevent may be applied to cyberspace to reduce risk of students being radicalised online at universities. Through semi-structured interviews (N= 16) with individuals working in Prevent and HE, attention is given to the capability of monitoring and filtering website content, which must be considered by universities as part of Prevent compliance. In addition, non-technical methods of reducing radicalisation in cyberspace are explored. Consideration is given to building students’ resilience to challenging information they see online through developing counter-narrative content for social media platforms. With students developing counter-narrative content themselves, specifically addressing vulnerability drivers to radicalisation, universities can enhance compliance with Prevent and create counter extremist content which can be used in cyberspace both in and outside of HE.
An Italian Twitter Corpus of Hate Speech against Immigrants
2018 Sanguinetti, M., Poletto, F., Bosco, C., Patti, V. and Stranisci, M. Article
The paper describes a recently-created Twitter corpus of about 6,000 tweets, annotated for hate speech against immigrants, and developed to be a reference dataset for an automatic system of hate speech monitoring. The annotation scheme was therefore specifically designed to account for the multiplicity of factors that can contribute to the definition of a hate speech notion, and to offer a broader tagset capable of better representing all those factors, which may increase, or rather mitigate, the impact of the message. This resulted in a scheme that includes, besides hate speech, the following categories: aggressiveness, offensiveness, irony, stereotype, and (on an experimental basis) intensity. The paper hereby presented namely focuses on how this annotation scheme was designed and applied to the corpus. In particular, also comparing the annotation produced by CrowdFlower contributors and by expert annotators, we make some remarks about the value of the novel resource as gold standard, which stems from a preliminary qualitative analysis of the annotated data and on future corpus development.
The Internet and Its Potentials for Networking and Identity Seeking: A Study on ISIS
2017 Sardarnia, K. Journal
With the accelerating process of globalization and the development of its technological dimension, more and more opportunities and channels are available to the terrorist groups in the world to mobilize resources and advocates. “Islamic State of Iraq and Sham” (ISIS), as the most modern terrorist-excommunicative group (Takfiry), has been able to utilize the Internet and social networks highly adeptly. While ignoring the function of long-term structural and essential factors underlying the formation of ISIS, and also combining the networked society theory and triple forms of identities proposed by Manuel Castells with theoretical discussions on identity making, networking, and mobilization of media, the current article seeks to analyze the role of cyberspace and social networks as accelerating and opportunistic agents in mobilizing resources and disseminating ISIS. Using an explanatory analytical research method, the current article mainly intends to find a reply to the question: What has been the role of online social networks in connection with ISIS as an excommunicative and terrorist group? According to the research hypothesis, due to ISIS’s subtle, prevocational-emotional and targeted utilization of online social networks, the networks have played the role of an accelerator and opportunity maker in some areas including network building, guidance of public opinion, identity making, and the promotion of project identity of this terrorist group. The general conclusion obtained from the article is that ISIS, as the most terrifying and the most modern group equipped with cyber media, has been able to attract many forces out of fanatical religious groups, unemployed people, criminals, etc., worldwide. Additionally, with the recruitment of fanatics, ISIS has been able to accomplish identity making and network building. As a result, regional security and even security in Western countries is also highly endangered.
Social Networks as the New Frontier of Terrorism
2017 Scaife, L. Book
Terrorism. Why does this word grab our attention so? Propaganda machines have adopted modern technology as a means to always have their content available. Regardless of the hour or time zone, information is being shared by somebody, somewhere. Social media is a game changer influencing the way in which terror groups are changing their tactics and also how their acts of terror are perceived by the members of the public they intend to influence.

This book explores how social media adoption by terrorists interacts with privacy law, freedom of expression, data protection and surveillance legislation through an exploration of the fascinating primary resources themselves, covering everything from the Snowden Leaks, the rise of ISIS to Charlie Hebdo. The book also covers lesser worn paths such as the travel guide that proudly boasts that you can get Bounty and Twix bars mid-conflict, and the best local hair salons for jihadi brides. These vignettes, amongst the many others explored in this volume bring to life the legal, policy and ethical debates considered in this volume, representing an important part in the development of understanding terrorist narratives on social media, by framing the legislative debate.
Automatic Detection And Forecasting Of Violent Extremist Cyber-Recruitment
2014 Scanlon, J. MA Thesis
The growing use of the Internet as a major means of communication has led to the formation of cyber-communities, which have become increasingly appealing to violent extremists due to the unregulated nature of Internet communication. Online communities enable violent extremists to increase recruitment by allowing them to build personal relationships with a worldwide audience capable of accessing uncensored content. This research presents methods for identifying and forecasting the recruitment activities of violent groups within extremist social media websites. Specifically, these methods employ techniques within supervised learning and natural language processing for automatically: (1) identifying forum posts intended to recruit new violent extremist members, and (2) forecasting recruitment efforts by tracking changes in an online community's discussion over time. We used data from the western jihadist website Ansar AlJihad Network, which was compiled by the University of Arizona's Dark Web Project. Multiple judges manually annotated a sample of these data, marking 192 randomly sampled posts as recruiting (Yes) or non-recruiting (No). We observed significant agreement between the judges' labels; the confidence interval of Cohen's kappa was (0.5,0.9) at p=0.01. We used naive Bayes models, logistic regression, classification trees, boosting, and support vector machines (SVM) to classify the forum posts in a 10-fold cross-validation experimental setup. Evaluation with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves show that our SVM classifier achieves 89% area under the curve (AUC), a significant improvement over the 63% AUC performance achieved by our simplest naive Bayes model (Tukey's test at p=0.05). The forecasting task uses a time series regression analysis to model the daily count of extremist recruitment posts. Evaluation with mean absolute scaled error (MASE) shows that employing latent topics as predictors can reduce forecast error compared to a naive (random-walk) model and the baseline time series model. To our knowledge, these are the first results reported on these tasks, and our analysis indicates that automatic detection and forecasting of online terrorist recruitment are feasible tasks. This research could ultimately help identify the impact of violent organizations, like terrorist groups, within the social network of an online community. There are also a number of important areas of future work including classifying non-English posts and measuring how recruitment posts and current events change membership numbers over time.
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.
Bastard Culture! How User Participation Transforms Cultural Production
2011 Schäfer, M.T. Book
On how participation via Internet and social media transform cultural production
Paris And Nice Terrorist Attacks: Exploring Twitter And Web Archives
2019 Schafer, V., Truc, G. and Badouard, R. Article
The attacks suffered by France in January and November 2015, and then in the course of 2016, especially the Nice attack, provoked intense online activity both during the events and in the months that followed. The digital traces left by this reactivity and reactions to events gave rise, from the very first days and even hours after the attacks, to a ‘real-time’ institutional archiving by the National Library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France) and the National Audio-visual Institute (Institut national de l’audiovisuel). The results amount to millions of archived tweets and URLs. This article seeks to highlight some of the most significant issues raised by these relatively unprecedented corpora, from collection to exploitation, from online stream of data to its mediation and re-composition. Indeed, web archiving practices in times of emergency and crises are significant, almost emblematic, loci to explore the human and technical agencies, and the complex temporalities, of ‘born-digital’ heritage. The cases examined here emphasize the way these ‘emergency collections’ challenge the perimeters and the very nature of web archives as part of our digital and societal heritage, and the guiding visions of its governance and mission. Finally, the present analysis underlines the need for a careful contextualization of the design process – both of original web pages or tweets and of their archived images – and of the tools deployed to collect, retrieve and analyse them.
Jumanji Extremism? How Games and Gamification Could Facilitate Radicalization Processes
2020 Schlegel, L. Article
While the last years have seen increased engagement with gaming in relation to extremist attacks, its potential role in facilitating radicalization has received less attention than other factors. This article makes an exploratory contribution to the theoretical foundations of the study of gaming in radicalization research. It is argued that both top-down and bottom up gamification have already impacted extremist discourse and potentially radicalization processes but that research on gamification in other contexts points to a much wider application of gamification to extremist propaganda distribution tools in the future. The potential influence of video games on radicalization processes exceeds the transfer of the popular argument that exposure to violent media leads to desensitization to the context of radicalization and includes the exploitation of pop culture references, increases in self-efficacy regarding violence, and the direct experience of retropian visions through the content of games.
“Yes, I can”: what is the role of perceived self-efficacy in violent online-radicalisation processes of “homegrown” terrorists?
2019 Schlegel, L. Article
Radicalisation is influenced by a multitude of factors such as situational, social and psychological factors, including social-cognitive processes. This article explores how homegrown extremists are influenced by their perceived agency and how the beliefs of their own abilities to change their situation are directly shaped by the online-propaganda they consume using ISIS propaganda as a case study. The article serves as an exploratory analysis of the potential explanatory qualities of Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy. This preliminary theoretical work explores how online-propaganda seeks to increase perceived personal self-efficacy to inspire action. The findings indicate that an increased focus on agency beliefs may facilitate a more holistic understanding of the psycho-social processes influencing radicalization and factors driving certain individuals to perpetrate violence while others do not. More research needs to be conducted, but this work is a first exploratory step in advancing our understanding of self-efficacy beliefs in the radicalization of homegrown extremists.