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
Facebook jihad: A case study of recruitment discourses and strategies targeting a Western female
2011 Torok, R. Article
Recent years has seen a trend towards the increasing specificity of recruitment targets for global jihad. This paper is a case study of the discourses used to recruit a Western female who originally subscribed to an antigovernment, anti-New World Order ideology. Categorising using grounded theory analysis found that female recruiters tapped into the interest of their target subject and then shifted her towards sympathy and commitment to radical Islam. This was achieved through media saturation of Western aggression against Muslims coupled with an ideology that promotes the need to fight and resist. Subject material to which the recruit was directed was carefully controlled and initially deemphasized the Qur’an in favour of mujahedeen narratives and the teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki. Overall, the research supported a sophisticated narrowcasting strategy that was carefully developed primarily by female recruiters.
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.
The Dynamics of the Creation, Evolution, and Disappearance of Terrorist Internet Forums
2013 Torres-Soriano, M.R. Journal
An examination of the organisational nature of the threat posed by jihadi terrorism, supplying quantitative and qualitative data on the dynamics behind the creation, evolution, and disappearance of the main jihadi Internet forums during the period 2008–2012. An analysis of the origins and functions of the forums, their links with terrorist organizations, their internal structures, and the processes accounting for their stability in cyberspace shows that far from representing a horizontal structure where the main actors are a network of followers, the terrorist presence on the Internet is in fact a hierarchical organization in which intervention by formal terrorist organizations plays a crucial role.
The Hidden Face of Jihadist Internet Forum Management: The Case of Ansar Al Mujahideen
2014 Torres-Soriano, M.R. Article
This article offers a descriptive analysis of the private interactions which took place on the jihadist Internet forum known as Ansar Al Mujahideen between 2008 and 2010. The analysis of the non-visible part of the forum contributes to a more robust underpinning of some current assumptions regarding the jihadist Internet infrastructure and its hierarchical dependence on, and subordination to, formal terrorist organisations and charismatic leaders. In addition, it offers a new perspective on other aspects such as the many conflicts and rivalries between the different forums, the operational constraints caused by the lack of human and material resources, and the considerable vulnerability of the forums to cyber-sabotage and infiltration attempts.
The Caliphate Is Not a Tweet Away: The Social Media Experience of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb
2015 Torres-Soriano, M.R. Journal
This article offers a descriptive analysis of the propaganda activities of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb on Internet social media. It examines the group's propaganda actions from its creation in 1998 until the end of 2015 and argues that the use of social media, Twitter in particular, has failed to offer any real remedy to its mediocre propaganda actions. During the period in which its Twitter profiles were active, the organization continued to manifest the same problems, including a shortage of qualified human resources and poor internal coordination, which had prevented it from engaging in efficient propaganda activity previously. The study of the social media experience of the group offers further evidence of the vulnerabilities of this Maghrebi jihadist organization.
Jihadist Propaganda as a Threat Indicator: The Case of Spain
2017 Torres-Soriano, M.R. Journal
The present article examines the relevance of jihadist propaganda as an indicator of the threat from terrorism. To that end, it uses jihadist propaganda output referring to Spain as a case study. It proposes an instrument of measurement based on content analysis, in which the origin, format, content, and distribution method of the materials are taken as categories. The results offer empirical evidence regarding the seriousness of the terrorist threat against Spain, a country that is particularly exposed due to its historical and geographical singularities and its status as the victim of an attack deemed paradigmatic in the minds of jihadists.
What is BitChute? Characterizing the “Free Speech” Alternative to YouTube
2020 Trujillo, M., Gruppi, M., Buntain, C. and Horne, B.D. Article
In this paper, we characterize the content and discourse on BitChute, a social video-hosting platform. Launched in 2017 as an alternative to YouTube, BitChute joins an ecosystem of alternative, low content moderation platforms, including Gab, Voat, Minds, and 4chan. Uniquely, BitChute is the first of these alternative platforms to focus on video content and is growing in popularity. Our analysis reveals several key characteristics of the platform. We find that only a handful of channels receive any engagement, and almost all of those channels contain conspiracies or hate speech. This high rate of hate speech on the platform as a whole, much of which is anti-Semitic, is particularly concerning. Our results suggest that BitChute has a higher rate of hate speech than Gab but less than 4chan. Lastly, we find that while some BitChute content producers have been banned from other platforms, many maintain profiles on mainstream social media platforms, particularly YouTube. This paper contributes a first look at the content and discourse on BitChute and provides a building block for future research on low content moderation platforms.
The Counter-Narrative Handbook
2016 Tuck, H. and Silverman, T. Report
Given the proliferation of violent extremist content online in recent years, developing effective counter-narratives - messages that offer a positive alternative to extremist propaganda, or deconstruct or delegitimise extremist narratives and challenge extremist ideologies - is an increasingly necessary alternative to online censorship. This Handbook, funded by Public Safety Canada through the Kanishka Project, was created by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) to help anyone looking to proactively respond to extremist propaganda with counter-narrative campaigns, and is intended as a beginner’s guide for those with little or no previous experience of counter-narrative campaigning. It takes readers through the main stages of creating, launching and evaluating an effective c ounter-narrative c ampaign. I t c an a lso b e u sed a longside I SD's freely available online Counter-narrative Toolkit, which can be found at www.counternarratives.org. Our advice is based on ISD’s experiences in creating, running and evaluating in-house campaigns such as Extreme Dialogue, and collaborating with independent content-creators, from civil society and NGO campaigners to young activists, to amplify their counter-narrative messages through training, networking and campaign support. This Handbook therefore focuses on civil-society, youth or NGO-led online counternarrative campaigns.
“Breivik is my Hero”: the Dystopian World of Extreme Right Youth on the Internet
2014 Turner-Graham, E. Journal
The extreme right is currently on the rise throughout Europe, making use of the Continent's economic and social problems to bolster its cause. It is also making increasing use of the Internet to spread its message and build a virtual world that it hopes will one day be reflected in reality. Until now the bulk of research into the extreme right's use of the Internet has focused on the online activities of political parties and organised groups. But the horrific acts of the Norwegian terrorist, counterjihadist and lone wolf Anders Behring Breivik, and his promotion of those acts and the ideology behind them by way of the Internet, has provoked an array of microblogs — that is, cutting-edge web presences made up of provocative short sentences, single images or video links. They idolise Breivik and reveal the potent use the extreme right is making of alternative media. The creators of these pro-Breivik counterjihadist sites are often young people well-versed in the use of the multi-faceted new media and as such they are able to create an appealing vision of their brave new world. They often work independently, producing a virtual worldview from the seclusion and relative anonymity of home computers. They are creating virtual places of congregation, community and validation for vulnerable young people in search of identity, purpose and meaning. In doing so, a new range of radical voices is being cultivated and added to current extreme right discourse. This paper will examine the extreme right's use of the Internet and the specific use made by its pro-Breivik, counterjihadist voices — the new voices of the extreme right.
The Internet in The Paris Riots of 2005
2014 Tønnevold, C. Journal
The riots in the suburbs of Paris (and across the country) in October and November 2005 lasted for about three weeks. The degree of violence and anger of the riots astonished an entire world. While the mainstream media, both in France and internationally, covered these events ‘as usual,’ some became aware that the internet seemed to play a role in the youths’ involvement and engagement in the events. This paper attempts to answer some important questions regarding the role of the internet: Why and how was it important? Did the web-only-publications, such as online news-sites and blogs, have any function for the people participating in the riots, or for those who were trying to put an end to them? What is more generally the potential of the internet, outside of the established media that also operate online, when ‘hot social issues’ catch fire and become explosive happenings.
Nationalism In The Digital Age: Fun As A Metapractice Of Extreme Speech
2019 Udupa, S. Article
Critical assessments of the recent resurgence of right-wing nationalism have rightly highlighted the role of social media in these troubling times, yet they are constrained by an overemphasis on celebrity leaders defined as populists. This article departs from a leader-centric analysis and the liberal frame that still largely informs the assessment of political action, to foreground “fun” as a salient aspect of right-wing mobilization. Building on ethnographic fieldwork among the Hindu nationalists in India, I argue that fun is a meta practice that shapes the interlinked practices of fact-checking, abuse, assembly and aggression among online volunteers for the right-wing movement. Furthermore, fun remains crucial for an experience of absolute autonomy among online users in ideological battles. Providing the daily drip feed for exclusion, fun as a meta practice bears a formal similarity to objectivity in its performative effects of distance and deniability.
Digital Resilience Tactics of Syrian Refugees in the Netherlands: Social Media for Social Support, Health, and Identity
2020 Udwan, G., Leurs, K. and Alencar, A. Article
The process of adjusting to a new country may carry important stressors for refugees. In the light of neoliberal policies, refugees are expected to become resilient in a local arrival infrastructure and perform a specific subjectivity based on gratefulness, adaptability, and digital sensitivity to successfully integrate. Drawing on a qualitative, in-depth case study with Syrians living in the Netherlands, this article explores the impact of the retreat of the welfare state and unfolding digital transitions on resilience tactics of marginalized people like refugees. While recognizing the systemic violence and historic trauma many refugees have experienced, we focus on how refugees are expected to and develop ways to become resilient. Three digital resilience tactics are discussed: digital social support, digital health, and digital identities. Social support was mainly sought from family, friends, organizations, and social media platforms, whereas refugees’ engagement in meaningful digital practices aimed at fostering health promotion and identity management. Our fieldwork resurfaces paradoxes of digital resilience as described by careful emotional digital labor refugees engage in when communicating with families, the role of socio-cultural factors in shaping refugees’ ICT (information and communication technology) adoption and use for health support, and negotiation of different and conflicting identity axes online. Finally, our study provides some insights into the implementation of more effective online and offline practices in the context of social and health support by host countries.
Quarantining Online Hate Speech: Technical and Ethical Perspectives
2020 Ullmann, S. and Tomalin, M. Article
In this paper we explore quarantining as a more ethical method for delimiting the spread of Hate Speech via online social media platforms. Currently, companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google generally respond reactively to such material: offensive messages that have already been posted are reviewed by human moderators if complaints from users are received. The offensive posts are only subsequently removed if the complaints are upheld; therefore, they still cause the recipients psychological harm. In addition, this approach has frequently been criticised for delimiting freedom of expression, since it requires the service providers to elaborate and implement censorship regimes. In the last few years, an emerging generation of automatic Hate Speech detection systems has started to offer new strategies for dealing with this particular kind of offensive online material. Anticipating the future efficacy of such systems, the present article advocates an approach to online Hate Speech detection that is analogous to the quarantining of malicious computer software. If a given post is automatically classified as being harmful in a reliable manner, then it can be temporarily quarantined, and the direct recipients can receive an alert, which protects them from the harmful content in the first instance. The quarantining framework is an example of more ethical online safety technology that can be extended to the handling of Hate Speech. Crucially, it provides flexible options for obtaining a more justifiable balance between freedom of expression and appropriate censorship.
Implementation of Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) by States affected by foreign terrorist fighters
2015 UN Security Council Commitee Report
The present report is the second in a series of reports to be issued pursuant to
Security Council resolution 2178 (2014), which requires the Counter-Terrorism
Committee Executive Directorate to assess Member States’ capacity to stem the flow
of foreign terrorist fighters, identify good practices in that regard and facilitate the
delivery of related technical assistance to States in need. The first report adopted a
thematic approach to the foreign terrorist fighter threat, focusing on the
implementation efforts of 21 Member States. The second report adopts a regional
approach and analyses the efforts of 32 States in Central Asia, the Maghreb, East
Africa/Horn of Africa, Western Europe and Oceania/Americas.
Countering terrorist narratives and preventing the use of the Internet for terrorist purposes - Open meeting of the Counter-Terrorism Committee
2020 UN Web TV: The United Nations Live & On Demand Video
The objective of the proposed open meeting is to assist the Committee to encourage States to better align their efforts in the area of countering terrorist narratives with the Framework and the guidelines contained in Council resolution 2354 (2017). Specifically, participants will be encouraged to:
1. Share information on trends and developments in terrorist narratives and effective measures to counter them, as well as on ways to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of such measures;
2. Discuss the benefits of a whole-of-society approach to countering terrorist narratives that involves a broad range of actors, including Governments, as well as youth; families; women; religious, cultural, and educational leaders; and other concerned civil society actors;
3. Share information on the benefits of countering terrorist narratives by amplifying positive and credible alternatives for audiences vulnerable to terrorist narratives;
4. Identify and analyse key aspects of the exploitation of information and communications technologies (ICT), including the Internet and social media, to disseminate terrorist narratives
5. Discuss ways to strengthen public-private sector engagement in countering terrorist narratives, both online and offline, including with respect to the TaT initiative and the work of the GIFCT
6. Share good practices in, and knowledge of, Member States’ compliance with the relevant international legal standards, including international human rights law, in this context, with respect in particular to the rights to freedom of expression and privacy
7. Encourage continued research into the drivers of terrorism and violent extremism in order to develop more focused counter-narrative programmes.
Concept Note ICT Special Meeting 2015
2015 United Nations Report
Terrorist groups have proved in recent years that they are particularly adept at
utilizing the Internet and social media to facilitate their activities, including incitement
to commit a terrorist act, radicalization to violence, recruitment, training, planning,
collection of information, communication, preparation, financing and execution of
attacks. In addition to Al-Qaida, one terrorist entity that has benefited significantly from
ICT is the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Daesh. ISIL and its
supporters exploit the Internet as a means to broadcast its ideology and has made effective
use of the vast reach and rapidly evolving communications environment provided by
social media applications, which also serve as a highly effective tool for ISIL recruiters,
who have succeeded in attracting a global pool of around 25,000 foreign fighters from
over 100 States.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the freedom of opinion and expression
2019 United Nations Report
The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the General Assembly the report prepared by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 34/18. In this report, the Special Rapporteur evaluates the human rights law that applies to the regulation of online ‘hate speech’.
Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
2014 United Nations Human Rights Council Report
The unprecedented, rapid development of new communication and information technologies, such as the Internet and social media, has enabled wider dissemination of racist and xenophobic content that incites racial hatred and violence. In response, States, international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector have undertaken a variety of legal and policy initiatives. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur examines the context, key trends and the manifestations of racism on the Internet and social media, and provides an overview of the legal and policy frameworks and the measures taken at international, regional and national levels, as well as some of the regulatory norms adopted by Internet and social network providers. He presents examples of measures taken to respond to the use of the Internet and social media to propagate racism, hatred, xenophobia and related intolerance, while highlighting the overall positive contribution of the Internet and social media as an effective tool for combating racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
Enhancing the Understanding of the Foreign Terrorist Fighters Phenomenon in Syria
2017 United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism Report
During the fourth biennial review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy held in September 2014, Member States expressed concern at the growing phenomenon of Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) in Syria. As a result, the Secretary-General announced that the United Nations Centre for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT) would, in cooperation with those Member States that wished to participate, gather information on the motivation of FTFs through direct interviews of returnees. By analysis of the results, the Secretary-General aimed to provide Member States with a stronger knowledge base from which to understand the phenomenon of FTFs, assess the risks they posed, and develop effective responses.

Accordingly, in November 2014, the Executive Chairman of UNCCT and Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs invited all Member States to facilitate United Nations access to FTFs within their jurisdictions. Despite limited cooperation,1 UNCCT interviewed 43 individuals between August 2015 and November 2016, representing 12 nationalities. Thirty three (77 per cent) of the interviewees reached Syria but subsequently decided to leave, while the remaining ten (23 per cent) began the journey but were stopped en route, either on their own or in a transit country. Two interviewees are of Syrian origin, though they were not living in Syria when they were interviewed, while the rest fulfil the definition of foreign terrorist fighters included in Security Council resolution 2178 (2014).

The responses of the interviewees provide important insights into the motivations of individuals to leave their countries of residence or nationality to join armed groups in Syria. It is important to note that more often than not, individuals do not necessarily select the group they finally join. Rather, once they reach Syrian territory, some seem to join the group that operates closest to their point of arrival. Fighters also seem to be switching groups. The aim of this report is to expand understanding of the FTF phenomenon in Syria by examining why the interviewees chose to act in the way they did. The report records the reasons individual FTFs have given to explain their decision to leave their countries of residence or nationality to join armed groups. It also records their reasons for leaving these groups and returning to their countries of residence or nationality before achieving the goals and objectives they had set themselves. Finally, the report seeks to draw conclusions as to the threat that returning FTFs may pose in the future.
UNODC Digest Of Terrorist Cases
2010 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Policy
The judicial cases featured in this Digest cover relevant aspects of the international legal regime against terrorism. It provides a comparative analysis of national statutory frame- works for terrorism prosecutions, and it identifies legal issues and pitfalls encountered in investigating and adjudicating relevant offences. In addition, it identifies practices related to specialized investigative and prosecutorial techniques. It also addresses the links between terrorism and other forms of crime (like organized crime, the trafficking of drugs, people and arms), as well as how to disrupt terrorist financing.