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
Thornton Statement Nottingham University Terrorism Arrests
2008 Thornton, R. Letter
Comments made by Dr Rod Thornton, Lecturer, School of Politics and International Relations, University of Nottingham on the events surrounding, and the repercussions of , the terrorism arrests at Nottingham University in May 2008
Three Constitutional Thickets: Why Regulating Online Violent Extremism is Hard
2019 Keller, D. Report
In this paper, I review U.S. constitutional considerations for lawmakers seeking to balance terrorist threats against free expression online. The point is not to advocate for any particular rule. In particular, I do not seek to answer moral or norms-based questions about what content Internet platforms should take down. I do, however, note the serious tensions between calls for platforms to remove horrific but First Amendment-protected extremist content – a category that probably includes the Christchurch shooter’s video – and calls for them to function as “public squares” by leaving up any speech the First Amendment permits. To lay out the issue, I draw on analysis developed at greater length in previous publications. This analysis concerns large user-facing platforms like Facebook and Google, and the word “platform” as used here refers to those large companies, not their smaller counterparts.
Three Essays on International Cyber Threats: Target Nation Characteristics, International Rivalry, and Asymmetric Information Exchange
2014 Mauslein, J. A. PhD Thesis
As the Internet is progressively integrated into industrial and defense-related networks around the globe, it is becoming increasing important to understand how state and sub-state groups can use Internet vulnerabilities as a conduit of attack. The current social science literature on cyber threats is largely dominated by descriptive, U.S.-centric research. While this scholarship is important, the findings are not generalizable and fail to address the global aspects of network vulnerabilities. As a result, this dissertation employs a unique dataset of cyber threats from around the world, spanning from 1990 to 2011. This dataset allows for three diverse empirical studies to be conducted. The first study investigates the political, social, and economic characteristics that increase the likelihood of a state being targeted for cyber threats. The results show that different state characteristics are likely to influence the forms of digital attack targeting. For example, states that experience increases in GDP per capita and military size are more likely to be targeted for cyber attacks. Inversely, states that experience increases in GDP per capita and those that are more democratic are less likely to be targeted for cyber terrorism. The second study investigates the role that international rivalries play in cyber threat targeting. The results suggest that states in rivalries may have more reason to strengthen their digital security, and rival actors may be cautious about employing serious, threatening forms of cyber activity against foes because of concerns about escalation. The final study, based upon the crisis bargaining theory, seeks to determine if cyber threat targeting decreases private information asymmetry and therefore decreases conflict participation. Empirical results show that the loss of digital information via cyber means may thus illicit a low intensity threat or militarized action by a target state, but it also simultaneously increases the likelihood that a bargain may be researched, preventing full scale war by reducing the amount of private information held between parties.
To Train Terrorists Onsite or Motivate via the Internet…That is the Question
2020 Siqueira, K. and Arce, D. Article
This paper investigates an agency model of a terrorist organization in which the training and motivation of recruits can occur onsite, in physical training camps, or at arm's length through the Internet. In so doing, we develop measures of the effectiveness and efficacy of these recruit training methods. A dividing line for choosing between the two is characterized in terms of the degree to which onsite training augments an operative's probability of mission success. In comparing our results to data on terror-tactic lethality, one implication is that terrorist organizations are likely to consider Internet training as sufficient for any tactic that is less complex and less lethal than vehicular assaults, and will require onsite motivation and training for more complex missions such as multiple-operative mass shootings and suicide bombings.
Toepassing Social Media Data-Analytics voor het Ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie
2015 Bakker, J., Tops, H., Nonahal, D. and Willemsen, F. Report
In opdracht van het Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek- en Documentatiecentrum (WODC) van het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie (VenJ) heeft Coosto een verkennende studie uitgevoerd naar mogelijke nieuwe social media toepassingen voor VenJ. Deze studie beoogt primair nieuwe toepassingen in kaart te brengen of bestaande toepassingen te herformuleren zodat ze bruikbaar zijn voor VenJ. Het daadwerkelijk ontwikkelen / bouwen van nieuwe toepassingen behoort niet tot deze opdracht.
Togetherness after terror: The more or less digital commemorative public atmospheres of the Manchester Arena bombing’s first anniversary
2020 Merrill, S., Sumartojo, S., Closs Stephens, A. and Coward, M. Article
This article examines the forms and feelings of togetherness evident in both Manchester city centre and on social media during the first anniversary of the 22 May 2017 Manchester Arena bombing. To do this, we introduce a conceptual framework that conceives commemorative public atmospheres as composed of a combination of ‘more or less digital’ elements. We also present a methodological approach that combines the computational collection and analysis of Twitter content with short-term team autoethnography. First, the article addresses the concept of public atmospheres before introducing the case study and outlining our methodology. We then analyse the shifting moods of togetherness created by the official programme of commemorative events known as Manchester Together and their digital mediatisation through Twitter. We then explore a grassroots initiative, #LoveMCRBees, and how it relied on the materialisation of social media logics to connect people. Overall, we demonstrate how public atmospheres, as constituted in more and less digital ways, provide a framework for conceptualising commemorative events, and how togetherness is reworked by social media, especially in the context of responses to terrorism.
Tom Kean Discusses Online Radicalization
2013 Kean, T. Video
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings Bipartisan Policy Center Homeland Security Project co-chair and former Governor Tom Kean, a 9/11 Commission co-chair, talks to BBC World News about the dangers of online radicalisation. Originally published by the BBC on 26 April 2013
Too Dark To See Explaining Adolescents Contact With Online Extremism And Their Ability To Recognize It
2019 Nienierza, A., Reinemann, C., Fawzi, N., Riesmeyer, C. and Neumann, K. Article
Adolescents are considered especially vulnerable to extremists’ online activities because they are ‘always online’ and because they are still in the process of identity formation. However, so far, we know little about (a) how often adolescents encounter extremist content in different online media and (b) how well they are able to recognize extremist messages. In addition, we do not know (c) how individual-level factors derived from radicalization research and (d) media and civic literacy affect extremist encounters and recognition abilities. We address these questions based on a representative face-to-face survey among German adolescents (n = 1,061) and qualitative interviews using a think-aloud method (n = 68). Results show that a large proportion of adolescents encounter extremist messages frequently, but that many others have trouble even identifying extremist content. In addition, factors known from radicalization research (e.g., deprivation, discrimination, specific attitudes) as well as extremism-related media and civic literacy influence the frequency of extremist encounters and recognition abilities.
Topic-Specific YouTube Crawling to Detect Online Radicalization
2015 Agarwal, S. and Sureka, A. Article
Online video sharing platforms such as YouTube contains several videos and users promoting hate and extremism. Due to low barrier to publication and anonymity, YouTube is misused as a platform by some users and communities to post negative videos disseminating hatred against a particular religion, country or person. We formulate the problem of identification of such malicious videos as a search problem and present a focused-crawler based approach consisting of various components performing several tasks: search strategy or algorithm, node similarity computation metric, learning from exemplary profiles serving as training data, stopping criterion, node classifier and queue manager. We implement two versions of the focused crawler: best-first search and shark search. We conduct a series of experiments by varying the seed, number of n-grams in the language model based comparer, similarity threshold for the classifier and present the results of the experiments using standard Information Retrieval metrics such as precision, recall and F-measure. The accuracy of the proposed solution on the sample dataset is 69% and 74% for the best-first and shark search respectively. We perform characterization study (by manual and visual inspection) of the anti-India hate and extremism promoting videos retrieved by the focused crawler based on terms present in the title of the videos, YouTube category, average length of videos, content focus and target audience. We present the result of applying Social Network Analysis based measures to extract communities and identify core and influential users.
Toward a Framework Understanding of Online Programs for Countering Violent Extremism
2016 Davies et al. Article
There is an emerging consensus that ideologically-based narratives play a central role in encouraging and sustaining radicalization to violence, and that preventing, arresting, or reversing radicalization requires some means by which to address the effects of these narratives. Countering violent extremism (CVE) is a broad umbrella phrase that covers a wide array of approaches that have been advanced to reduce the radicalizing effects of extremist narratives. There is considerably less agreement, however, regarding the most appropriate means by which the mitigation of extremist narratives might best be accomplished. An important emerging area of interest is the role of the Internet, both as a forum through which narratives are transmitted and as an avenue for delivering CVE programs. At present, very little is known about which principles and practices should inform online CVE initiatives. This study attempts to establish a foundation and framework for these programs: first, by identifying the concepts and constructs which may be most relevant to countering violent extremism online, and second, by examining the available material from six online CVE programs in relation to these concepts. This examination suggests that these programs are lacking strong theoretical foundations and do not address important elements of radicalization, such as contextual factors or identity issues. It is important that future iterations of CVE programs consider not just the specific content of the narratives, but also take into account why these narratives have resonance for particular individuals
Towards a Framework Understanding of Online Programs for Countering Violent Extremism
2016 Davies, G. and Newdecker, C. Journal
There is an emerging consensus that ideologically-based narratives play a central role in encouraging and sustaining radicalization to violence, and that preventing, arresting, or reversing radicalization requires some means by which to address the effects of these narratives. Countering violent extremism (CVE) is a broad umbrella phrase that covers a wide array of approaches that have been advanced to reduce the radicalizing effects of extremist narratives. There is considerably less agreement, however, regarding the most appropriate means by which the mitigation of extremist narratives might best be accomplished. An important emerging area of interest is the role of the Internet, both as a forum through which narratives are transmitted and as an avenue for delivering CVE programs. At present, very little is known about which principles and practices should inform online CVE initiatives. This study attempts to establish a foundation and framework for these programs: first, by identifying the concepts and constructs which may be most relevant to countering violent extremism online, and second, by examining the available material from six online CVE programs in relation to these concepts. This examination suggests that these programs are lacking strong theoretical foundations and do not address important elements of radicalization, such as contextual factors or identity issues. It is important that future iterations of CVE programs consider not just the specific content of the narratives, but also take into account why these narratives have resonance for particular individuals.
Towards the “olive trees of Rome”: exploitation of propaganda devices in the Islamic State’s flagship magazine “Rumiyah”
2020 Lakomy, M. Article
This paper aims to contribute to understanding how the last flagship magazine of the Islamic State - “Rumiyah” - attempted to influence and manipulate Internet users. Its primary objective is to analyze the propaganda methods exploited in all thirteen issues of this magazine. In order to do so this paper utilises content analysis to investigate “propaganda devices”, a concept developed by the American Institute for Propaganda Analysis. It argues that there were four predominant groups of propaganda devices exploited in this magazine. Two of them, i.e. name-calling and glittering generalities, were utilized to create and promote an artificial, black-and-white vision of the world, composed of the “camp of kufr” (camp of disbelief) and the “camp of iman” (camp of faith), embodied by the Islamic State. The third leading propaganda method, transfer, attempted to legitimize the actions and agenda of the “Caliphate” by using the authority of not only Allah, but also the Prophet Muhammad, his companions (Sahabah), as well as selectively chosen Islamic scholars. Finally, the bandwagon served as a means of creating a sense of community between the editors and readers. Other propaganda devices, such as testimonial or plain folks, played strictly secondary roles in the narration of the magazine.
Toxic Narratives: Monitoring Alternative-right Actors
2017 Baldauf, J., Dittrich, M., Hermann, M., Kollberg, B., Lüdecke, R. and Rathje, J. Report
Why do we use the term “toxic narrative”? The concept of “toxic communication” has been established in the English-speaking world since the 1960s. The term has also been borrowed in Germany to refer to linguistic behavior that has a negative influence on its environment. When we speak of toxic narratives, we are referring to accounts of the world that supply the pertinent “events” and interpretations for such communication.

It is necessary to process such narratives – decoding them, examining their core content and classifying them – in order to respond to them cogently and successfully. The present report is intended to make a contribution to this effort.
Tracking Online Hate Speech and Identifying Online ‘Raids’ in the UK
2017 Online Civil Courage Initiative Report
The Online Civil Courage Initiative’s core partner, ISD, has been tracking both positive and negative
responses to terror attacks in the UK this year, to understand how to improve counterspeech in the
UK. This report contains advice for NGOs working towards challenging hate speech and extremism
online with recommendations/suggestions for how they can respond speedily and effectively in the
aftermath of an attack, and improve understanding on the coordinated efforts (online raids) that are
designed to undermine positive speech.
Trans-mediatized terrorism: The Sydney Lindt Café siege
2018 Ali, S., Khattab, U. Article
This article presents an empirical analysis of the Australian media representation of terrorism using the 2014 Sydney Lindt Café siege as a case in point to engage with the notion of moral panic. Deploying critical discourse analysis and case study as mixed methods, insights into trans-media narratives and aftermath of the terrifying siege are presented. While news media appeared to collaborate with the Australian right-wing government in the reporting of terrorism, social media posed challenges and raised security concerns for the state. Social media heightened the drama as sites were variously deployed by the perpetrator, activists and concerned members of the public. The amplified trans-media association of Muslims with terrorism in Australia and its national and global impact, in terms of the political exclusion of Muslims, are best described in this article in the form of an Islamophobic Moral Panic Model, invented for a rethink of the various stages of its occurrence, intensification and institutionalization.
Trends of Anashid Usage in Da‘esh Video Messaging and Implications for Identifying Terrorist Audio and Video
2019 Pieslak, J., Pieslak, B. and Lemieux, A. F. Article
This article examines how Da‘esh utilizes anashid (“Islamic songs” or “recitation”) as soundtrack elements within its video messaging, focusing primarily on a sample set of 755 videos released in 2015. The authors also present the development of an automatic content recognition (ACR) tool that enabled them to engage this large data set. The article then explores the possibilities of ACR for the identification of terrorist audio and video, utilizing the conclusions drawn from the trends of audio usage in Da‘esh video messaging to support the validity and promise of such an approach.

Trolling Media: Violent Extremist Groups Recruiting Through Socal Media
2015 Chang, M.D. MA Thesis
With the advent and subsequent growth of several new media technologies, violent extremist groups have incorporated social media into recruiting strategies. How are violent extremist groups using social media for recruiting? This thesis explores several new media technologies—websites, blogs, social media, mobile phones, and online gaming—to determine if violent extremist groups rely on social media for recruiting. By comparing the communication of al Qaeda and ISIS, this thesis concludes that violent extremist groups rely on social media, and they employ a wide range of new media technologies to attract and recruit new members. In some instances, virtual interaction still requires face-to-face communication to adequately recruit someone into a violent extremist group.
Turning Away From the Truth: Critique Of Hamami
2013 Al-Muhajir, A.H. Lecture
Demystifying the Abu Mansur Saga
Tweet... If You Dare: How Counter-Terrorism Laws Restrict Freedom of Expression in Spain
2018 Amnesty International Report
Social media users, journalists, lawyers
and musicians have been prosecuted
under Article 578 of the Spanish
Criminal Code, which prohibits “glorifying
terrorism” and “humiliating the victims
of terrorism”. Although this provision
was first introduced in 2000, it is only in
recent years, following its amendment
in 2015, that prosecutions and convictions
under Article 578 have sharply risen.
The result is increasing self-censorship
and a broader chilling effect on freedom
of expression in Spain.
Tweeting for the Caliphate: Twitter as the New Frontier for Jihadist Propaganda
2013 Prucha, N. and Fisher, A. Journal
This article discusses the emergence of jihadist social media strategies, explains how the Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) has used Twitter to disseminate content, and analyzes content shared by JN. Using an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of jihadist propaganda, this article demonstrates how jihadist groups are using Twitter to disseminate links to video content shot on the battlefield in Syria and posted for mass consumption on YouTube.