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
ISIS and the Institution of Online Terrorist Recruitment
2015 Torok, R. Article
The rise of ISIS and associated jihadi violence taking place in Syria and Iraq has reverberated widely. The effects can be felt not just in the horrific attacks that took place in Paris in January 2015, but across the Asia-Pacific region as well, including Australia. Public officials and analysts are struggling to understand and devise countermeasures to the recruitment mechanisms employed by ISIS and other violent extremist groups. This essay explores the role that social media has played in ISIS’s efforts to attract adherents.
Echo Chambers and Online Radicalism: Assessing the Internet's Complicity in Violent Extremism
2015 O'Hara, K. and Stevens, D. Journal
This article considers claims made by various authors that the use of filtering and recommendation technology on the Internet can deprive certain communities of feedback, and instead amplify groups' viewpoints, leading to polarization of opinion across communities, and increases in extremism. The ‘echo chamber’ arguments of Cass Sunstein are taken as representative of this point of view, and examined in detail in the context of a range of research, theoretical and empirical, quantitative and qualitative, in political science and the sociology of religion, from the last quarter century. The conclusion is that the case has not been made either (a) that echo chambers are necessarily harmful, or (b) that the Internet is complicit in their formation.
The Original Web of Hate - Revolution Muslim and American Homegrown Extremists
2015 Levin, B. Journal
Before the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) leveraged the Internet into a truly modern quasi-state propaganda machine through horrendous online videos, travel handbooks, and sophisticated Twitter messengering, more humble yet highly effective precursors targeted youthful Western Muslims for radicalism, during a time when home grown plots peaked. These brash new entrants into the crowded freewheeling world of extremist cyber-haters joined racists, religious extremists of other faiths, Islamophobes, single issue proponents, as well as anti-government rhetoriticians and conspiracists. The danger from these evolving new provocateurs, then and now, is not that they represent a viewpoint that is widely shared by American Muslims. However, the earlier successful forays by extremist Salafists, firmly established the Internet as a tool to rapidly radicalize, train and connect a growing, but small number of disenfranchised or unstable young people to violence. The protections that the First Amendment provide to expression in the United States, contempt for Western policies and culture, contorted fundamentalism, and the initial successes of these early extremist Internet adopters, outlined here, paved the way for the ubiquitous and sophisticated online radicalization efforts we see today.
Cyber Hate Speech on Twitter: An Application of Machine Classification and Statistical Modeling for Policy and Decision Making
2015 Burnap, P. and Williams, M.L. Journal
The use of “Big Data” in policy and decision making is a current topic of debate. The 2013 murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London, UK led to an extensive public reaction on social media, providing the opportunity to study the spread of online hate speech (cyber hate) on Twitter. Human annotated Twitter data was collected in the immediate aftermath of Rigby's murder to train and test a supervised machine learning text classifier that distinguishes between hateful and/or antagonistic responses with a focus on race, ethnicity, or religion; and more general responses. Classification features were derived from the content of each tweet, including grammatical dependencies between words to recognize “othering” phrases, incitement to respond with antagonistic action, and claims of well-founded or justified discrimination against social groups. The results of the classifier were optimal using a combination of probabilistic, rule-based, and spatial-based classifiers with a voted ensemble meta-classifier. We demonstrate how the results of the classifier can be robustly utilized in a statistical model used to forecast the likely spread of cyber hate in a sample of Twitter data. The applications to policy and decision making are discussed.
Filtering, Blocking and Take-Down of Illegal Content on the Internet
2015 Swiss Institute of Comparative Law Report
The Council of Europe commissioned to the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law a comparative study in respect of filtering, blocking and take-down of illegal content on the Internet in the 47 member States of the Organisation. This study describes and assesses the legal framework but also the relevant case-law and practice in the field. It is divided in two main parts: country reports and comparative considerations.
Overview of Daesh’s Online Recruitment Propaganda Magazine, Dabiq
2015 The Carter Center Report
The successful recruitment strategies of the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Daesh) has become a serious challenge for the international community. Daesh employs a multifaceted online media strategy to recruit targeted demographics. The Carter Center (TCC) is working to counter Daesh’s recruitment propaganda efforts by undertaking in-depth analysis of this group’s print and social media publications. This will be followed by a series of workshops in partnership with religious and local community leaders. TCC has developed a detailed coding methodology allowing for structured study of each individual issue of Daesh s online magazine, Dabiq. Currently, Issues 1 – 12 have been examined, categorizing 31 separate variables broken down by text, context, imagery, and magazine evolution. This qualitative and quantitative methodological analysis enables the study of shifting themes, trends, and recruitment strategies. This report will discuss the significance of Dabiq as a compliment to Daesh’s social media campaign, Daesh’s re-appropriation of international media, and its repurposing of this material to enhance its own recruitment strategies.
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.
Extremism on the Internet; The Fight Against Online Radicalisation Starts Offline
2015 Gemmerli Article
Counter-narratives are often claimed to be the ingenuous solution for the prevention of extremism and radicalisation. They are intended to dismantle extremism’s propaganda or create positive alternatives to its communities. But the effect is dubious and may, at worst, lead to the opposite result. Therefore, education and critical thinking are the best form of prevention.
This is Not Your Mother’s Terrorism: Social Media, Online Radicalization and the Practice of Political Jamming
2015 Heuy, L. Article
It is commonly recognized that social media presents vast new opportunities for terrorist groups seeking to radicalize audiences. However, few scholars have studied the actual mechanisms by which radicalizing messages are delivered to those audiences. Within this paper, the author explores one key aspect of the phenomenon of ‘jihadi cool’ – that is, the rendering of pro-Islamic terrorism into something hip and trendy among online audiences. Discussed is the use of political jamming: a subversive, satirical activity that draws on humor to reinforce ideological messages. The opportunity for countering these messages through the same technique is also considered.
RiskTrack: A New Approach for Risk Assessment of Radicalisation Based on Social Media Data
2015 Camacho et al. Article
The RiskTrack project aims to help in the prevention of terrorism through the identification of online radicalisation. In line with the European Union priorities in this matter, this project has been designed to identify and tackle the indicators that raise a red flag about which individuals or communities are being radicalised and recruited to commit violent acts of terrorism. Therefore, the main goals of this project will be twofold: On the one hand, it is needed to identify the main features and characteristics that can be used to evaluate a risk situation, to do that a risk assessment methodology studying how to detect signs of radicalisation (e.g., use of language, behavioural patterns in social networks...) will be designed. On the other hand, these features will be tested and analysed using advanced data mining methods, knowledge representation (semantic and ontology engineering) and multilingual technologies. The innovative aspect of this project is to not offer just a methodology on risk assessment, but also a tool that is build based on this methodology, so that the prosecutors, judges, law enforcement and other actors can obtain a short term tangible results.
The Islamic State’s Use of Online Social Media
2015 Blaker, L. Journal
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has made great use of the Internet and online social media sites to spread its message and encourage others, particularly young people, to support the organization, to travel to the Middle East to engage in combat—fighting side-by-side with other jihadists, or to join the group by playing a supporting role—which is often the role carved out for young women who are persuaded to join ISIS. The terrorist group has even directed sympathizers to commit acts of violence wherever they are when traveling to the Middle East isn’t possible. ISIS propaganda is now more frequently aimed at Westerners and more specifically aimed at the “Millennial generation.”

Clearly, social media has proven to be an extremely valuable tool for the terrorist organization and is perfectly suited for the very audience it’s intending to target. According to Pew Research Center’s Social Networking Fact Sheet, 89% of adults aged 18 - 29 use social media” 1 Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and even YouTube, allow ISIS propaganda to reach across the globe in real time. Increasingly, ISIS’ posts to Internet sites include sophisticated, production-quality video and images that incorporate visual effects. What messages from jihadists induce young Westerners to become involved with the terrorist group? What convinces young people from Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States—many who are technically runaways, still in their teens—to leave their homelands to join ISIS on the battlefield? What risks does a home country face when its nationals communicate and establish relationships with members of ISIS? Can the jihadist social network propaganda machine be shut down, and weighing all factors, is stopping ISIS rhetoric on the Internet the best course of action? This paper explores these and other questions related to terrorist groups’ utilization of social media.
#FailedRevolutions: Using Twitter to Study the Antecedents of ISIS Support
2015 Magdy, W., Darwish, K., and Weber, I. Article
Within a fairly short amount of time, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has managed to put large swaths of land in Syria and Iraq under their control. To many observers, the sheer speed at which this "state" was established was dumbfounding. To better understand the roots of this organization and its supporters we present a study using data from Twitter. We start by collecting large amounts of Arabic tweets referring to ISIS and classify them into pro-ISIS and anti-ISIS. This classification turns out to be easily done simply using the name variants used to refer to the organization: the full name and the description as "state" is associated with support, whereas abbreviations usually indicate opposition. We then "go back in time" by analyzing the historic timelines of both users supporting and opposing and look at their pre-ISIS period to gain insights into the antecedents of support. To achieve this, we build a classifier using pre-ISIS data to "predict", in retrospect, who will support or oppose the group. The key story that emerges is one of frustration with failed Arab Spring revolutions. ISIS supporters largely differ from ISIS opposition in that they refer a lot more to Arab Spring uprisings that failed. We also find temporal patterns in the support and opposition which seems to be linked to major news, such as reported territorial gains, reports on gruesome acts of violence, and reports on airstrikes and foreign intervention.
Starting Points For Combating Hate Speech Online
2015 Titley, G., Keen, E., and Földi, L. Report
Young People Combating Hate Speech Online is a project of the Council of Europe’s youth sector running between 2012 and 2015. The project aims to combat racism and discrimination in their online expression of hate speech by equipping young people and youth organisations with the competences necessary to recognize and act against such human rights violations. Central to the project is a European youth media campaign which will be designed and  implemented with the agency of young people and youth organisations. As a preparation for the project, the Council of Europe’s Youth Department commissioned three “mapping” studies about the realities of hate speech and young people and projects and campaigns about it. These studies are published here as a resource for the activists, youth leaders, researchers, partners and decision makers associated to the project and the online campaign. They are truly a starting points: more research is needed, both on the legal and policy implications of hate speech online as on its impact and relation with young people.
One to One Online Interventions: A Pilot CVE Methodology
2015 Frenett, R. and Dow, M. Report
The internet permeates all aspects of modern life and violent extremism is no exception. Although the level of importance is sometimes disputed, few would deny the role that online communication has in driving people towards violent extremist groups. While there are various perspectives on the exact nature of this process, it is increasingly agreed upon that it is rare for individuals to radicalise entirely in absence of any outside communication. Radicalisation remains a social phenomenon and the fact that some of these social interactions have migrated online does not change this. Extremists do not simply produce and disseminate propaganda and then move straight to offline recruitment, they utilise peer to peer messaging applications contained within social media platforms to engage in direct personal contact with potential recruits to their cause. Sometimes these online conversations completely displace offline recruitment.

Extremist propaganda is often removed and there are examples of nascent efforts to counter this throught the creation of counter-narrative campaigns. Counter-narratives, and offline counter-recruitment programmes such as EXIT and Channel, counter efforts of extremists to promote propaganda online and recruit in the offline world. This highlights the fact that there is a crucial piece missing in our efforts to counter recruitment to extremist groups; the proactive utilisation of peer to peer messaging systems online to engage with those expressing extremist sympathies.

Over the course of ISD’s management of the AVE network we encountered a number of isolated attempts to engage directly with extremists online, from former extremists infiltrating extremist forums to Twitter conversations between activists and extremist sympathisers. However none of these efforts had been attempted at scale none had had testing and success
metrics built in from the start. As such, any evidence gained as to their effectiveness was anecdotal at best.
Extracting Social Structure from DarkWeb Forums
2015 Phillips, E., Nurse, J.R.C., Goldsmith, M. and Creese, S. Article
This paper explores various Social Network Analysis (SNA) techniques in order to identify a range of potentially ‘important’ members of Islamic Networks within Dark Web Forums. For this experiment, we conducted our investigation on five forums collected in previous work as part of the DarkWeb Forum portal and built upon the tool support created in our previous research in order to visualise and analyse the network. Whilst existing work attempts to identify these structures through state-of-the-art Computational Linguistic techniques, our work relies on the communication metadata alone. Our analysis involved first calculating a range of SNA metrics to better understand the group members, and then apply unsupervised learning in order to create clusters that would help classify the Dark Web Forums users into hierarchical clusters. In order to create our social networks, we investigated the effect of repeated author resolution and various weighting schemes on the ranking of forum members by creating four social networks per forum and evaluating the correlation of the top n users (for n = 10; 20; 30; 40; 50 and 100). Our results identified that varying the weighting schemes created more consistent ranking schemes than varying the repeated author resolution.
Violence and Political Myth: Radicalizing Believers in the Pages of Inspire Magazine
2015 Kirke, X. Journal
Violent Jihadist movements have increasingly produced online English language magazines in order to encourage young Muslims into terrorism. This article argues that sociological approaches to the study of these magazines should engage with theories of political myth, understood as the collective “work” on dramatic and figurative narratives which provide significance to the political conditions of social groups. The utility of this approach is demonstrated through an analysis of al-Qaeda's online magazine, Inspire. Targeted toward an alienated young Western Muslim readership, Inspire stylistically mimics Western magazines by using satirical representations of politicians and making references to popular culture. The authors seek to convince their readership that they are part of a violent conflict with Western “crusaders” and treacherous false Muslims. Through a rhetorical strategy of “legitimization via proximization,” perceived injustices committed by the purported enemies of Islam throughout the world are seen as direct attacks on the reader and all Muslims. The reader must sacrifice his/her livelihood in order to become a “hero” and defend the Umma against its enemies. The article concludes that the mobilizing potential of the work on myth in these magazines necessitates further research.
Empirical Assessment of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Taliban Propaganda
2015 Skillicorn, D.B. Article
The jihadist groups AQAP, ISIS, and the Taliban have all produced glossy English magazines designed to influence Western sympathizers. We examine these magazines empirically with respect to models of the intensity of informative, imaginative, deceptive, jihadist, and gamification language. This allows their success to be estimated and their similarities and differences to be exposed. We also develop and validate an empirical model of propaganda; according to this model Dabiq, ISIS's magazine ranks highest of the three.
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.
Managing ‘Threats’: Uses of Social Media for Policing Domestic Extremism and Disorder in the UK
2015 Dencik, L., Hintz, A., Carey, Z. and Pandya, H. Report
This project examines the uses of social media for policing domestic extremism and
disorder in the UK. The collection and analysis of social media data for the purposes
of policing forms part of a broader shift from ‘reactive’ to ‘proactive’ forms of
governance in which state bodies engage in big data analysis to predict, preempt and
respond in real time to a range of social problems. However, there is a lack of
research that accounts for the ways in which different state bodies are making use of
big data, and how big data is changing the way states research, prioritize and act in
relation to social and political issues.
Online Territories of Terror – How Jihadist Movements Project Influence on the Internet and Why it Matters Offline
2015 Prucha, N. PhD Thesis
This doctoral thesis takes the reader into elements of the strategy of using modern
communication as well the advocated monopoly of truth by jihadist groups world
wide.