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
'Beyond Anything We Have Ever Seen': Beheading Videos and the Visibility of Violence in the War against ISIS.
2015 Friis, S.M. Journal
This article examines the role of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's (ISIS's) beheading videos in the United Kingdom and the United States. These videos are highly illustrative demonstrations of the importance of visual imagery and visual media in contemporary warfare. By functioning as evidence in a political discourse constituting ISIS as an imminent, exceptional threat to the West, the videos have played an important role in the re-framing of the conflict in Iraq and Syria from a humanitarian crisis requiring a humanitarian response to a national security issue requiring a military response and intensified counterterrorism efforts. However, this article seeks to problematize the role and status of ISIS's beheadings in American and British security discourses by highlighting the depoliticizing aspects of reducing a complicated conflict to a fragmented visual icon. The article concludes by emphasizing the need for further attention to how the visibility of war, and the constitution of boundaries between which acts of violence are rendered visible and which are not, shape the political terrain in which decisions about war and peace are produced and legitimized.
Jihad Cool/Jihad Chic: The Roles of the Internet and Imagined Relations in the Self-Radicalization of Colleen LaRose
2015 Picart, C.J.S. Article
The internet provides the means through which a “self-activating terrorist” may first self-radicalize through some imaginary or sympathetic connection with an organized terrorist network. Additionally, the internet allows such a self-activating terrorist to move into the stage of radical violent action. The internet serves both functions by providing the lone wolf with not only a rhetorical medium for self-justification and communication through the use of “monster talk” and its converse, the rhetoric about the “good citizen,” but it is also a source for relatively inexpensive and more unpredictable technologies of mass destruction. Crucial to this analysis is the distinction between radicalization of thought and radicalization of action, as a theoretical rhetoric of radicalization does not automatically convert into a rhetoric of radical action unless there are catalysts at work. The internet, as well as imagined relations cemented by the rhetorics of “jihadi cool” or “jihadi chic,” function as these crucial catalysts, galvanizing monster talk into monstrous action. The article focuses specifically on the case of self-activating terrorist Colleen LaRose to analyze how different factors—mental, psychological, social, and economic—interact with imaginative elements, such as surrogate father-mentor-lover relations for LaRose, and contribute to the formation of a self-activating terrorist, and what ultimately motivates and galvanizes her to move from a rhetoric of radical talk to a rhetoric of radical action, using Silber and Bhatt’s model of radicalization as an initial heuristic. In the case of Colleen LaRose, the romance of “jihadi chic” or “jihadi cool” (the converse of the rhetoric of the monstrous “infidel” or “lone wolf terrorist”) was an essential factor to her self-radicalization. It is this imagined status of “jihadi chic” or “jihadi cool” (that nevertheless must somehow have a look of “reality” or “authenticity” and command a response from its audience) that continues to be a crucial component of the success of recruitment strategies of radical jihadi groups, such as ISIS.
Backgrounds, Experiences and Responses to Online Hate Speech: A Comparative Cross-Country Analysis
2015 Jubany, O. and Roiha, M. Report
International- and EU-institutions are paying increasing attention to the phenomenon of online hate speech and acknowledge this as a growing problem across and beyond Europe. In this regard, the 2015 ECRI report highlights online hate speech as one of the main trends of the previous year, emphasising that “hate speech through social media is rapidly increasing and has the potential to reach a much larger audience than extremist print media were able to reach previously”. Also, UNESCO has recently focused on this growing issue, mapping and analysing the existing initiatives to combat online hate speech in their comprehensive 2015 report “Countering online hate speech".
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.
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.
Just A Click Away: Radicalization In The Net Generation
2015 Frank, B. MA Thesis
The use of the Internet as a vehicle of socialization has exploded in the 21st century and while this presents exciting possibilities, it also comes with troubling ones. Among those who have embraced this new medium are extremist groups, who use the Web as a space in which to communicate, exchange ideas, network and reach new followers. In regards to this last point, it provides them near unlimited opportunities to gain access to potential recruits and converts, raising interesting questions in terms of the dynamics of the radicalization process and how it manifests itself within the confines of this new arena. Through an analysis of postings made to the discussion board of Stormfront.org, this research paper examines whether or not the radicalization process follows the same transformative pattern in the virtual world as has been described in some of the leading academic theories that address this phenomenon in the physical one.
Pulling Back The Curtain: An Examination Of The English Defence League And Their Use Of Facebook
2015 Reynolds, T. PhD Thesis
As social media becomes an integral part of our daily lives, and groups seek to utilize this medium to facilitate activism, understanding the nature of these communications and the impact of the content on the individual user becomes a valid area of interest. When one then considers that extremist and terrorist groups have found social media to be an inexpensive and effective means for communication, radicalization, recruitment and member mobilization, the need for this understanding becomes critical. This research seeks to provide just such an understanding in its examination of Far-Right English Defence League and their use of Facebook during a period of increased activism and online growth. Important elements of this work include an understanding of the legal and ethical issues surrounding the collection of online content, particularly in extremist environments; the role of traditional media in their coverage of the group and whether the comments of the members reflect the group’s mission statement of the characterization of traditional media; the ability to enhance data segregation and analysis through the development and use of specialized software; and most importantly the findings from the data analysis. Contained within these findings is an understanding of the intricacies of online participation in extremist social media. These include insights into overall traffic generation, the use of links within communications and their impact on the member traffic, and how the group narrative put forth by the administrator is reflected in the dialogue of the users. The most important finding was an understanding of individual user participation within the group and how, even with such an inexpensive and pervasive media outlet, activist groups still struggle to overcome the problem of participation. That this knowledge can be applied in a meaningful way in counter extremist and counterterrorism efforts was an interesting and satisfying development.
The Discourse Of Cyberterrorism: Exceptional Measures Call For The Framing Of Exceptional Times
2015 Auwema, N. M. MA Thesis
The configuration of the discourse of cyberterrorism in the Netherlands is a mix of public and private actors that have diverging views about whether cyberterrorism is a genuine security threat. How and why have several of these actors argued that it is a genuine security threat? What was their interest in doing so? Has cyberterrorism possibly been framed or hyped as a genuine security threat? This thesis examines the discourse of cyberterrorism in the Netherlands by examining the field, the position on cyberterrorism of the actors within this field, and finally, their levels of technological capital, legitimacy and authority. Considering the differences in these levels, this thesis contends that public and private actors have different interests in arguing that cyberterrorism is a threat. While public actors are concerned with the protection of Dutch cyberspace and the Dutch society, private actors, with the exception of Fox-IT, have multiple interests. This has led these private actors to frame or hype cyberterrorism as a genuine security threat, without the necessary background to base their statement on. Exceptional measures have led to the framing of exceptional times.
Cyber-security In The European Region: Anticipatory Governance And Practices
2015 Munk, T. H. PhD Thesis
This thesis explores the nature of cyber security at the beginning of the 21st century. In the current security paradigm, security strategies based on anticipatory governance have become essential in the management of the constantly changing cyber security environment. Thus, this thesis aims to understand security strategies and governance introduced in the European region. The increased dependency on cyber space is visible in all public private sectors and governmental operations, as well as communications between groups and individuals. As a result, cyber attacks on public and private entities are increasing. This requires a security framework that is flexible and establishes different types of security cooperation to manage the widespread cyber risks. This is essential to the development of security strategies, governance forms, practices, and guidelines for enhancing resilience and preparedness towards cyber risks. Therefore, I am examining cyber security through the lenses of nodal governance and governmentality, which enables me to understand European cyber security strategies and governance forms developed by the Council of Europe, the European Union, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. To analyse existing strategies and governance forms, I have used two critical security schools, the Copenhagen School and the Paris School, which cover different aspects of the security agenda. The thesis develops a substantive analytical framework through two case studies, namely cyber security and cyber terrorism. The findings in this thesis identifies problem areas, such as the complexity of the nodal system, the legislative lacuna, reliance on different governance forms, transparency and accountability, and types of anticipatory governance and regulatory practices.
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.
Ethical Dilemmas in Qualitative Research with Youth On/Offline
2014 Livingstone, S and Locatelli, E. Article
Research on the digital and online environment poses several ethical questions that are new or, at least, newly pressing, especially in relation to youth. Established ethical practices require that research have integrity, quality, transparency, and impartiality. They also stipulate that risks to the researcher, institution, data, and participants should be anticipated and addressed. But difficulties arise when applying these to an environment in which the online and offline intersect in shifting ways. This paper discusses some real-life “digital dilemmas” to identify the emerging consensus among researchers. We note the 2012 guidelines by the Association of Internet Researchers, which advocates for ethical pluralism, for minimizing harm, and for the responsibility of the researcher where codes are insufficient.
As a point of contrast, we evaluate Markham’s (2012) radical argument for data fabrication
as and ethical practice. In reflecting on how researchers of the digital media practices of youth resolve their dilemmas in practice, we take up Markham’s challenge of identifying evolving practice, including researchers’ workarounds, but we eschew her solution of fabrication. Instead, we support the emerging consensus that while rich data are increasingly available for collection, they should not always be fully used or even retained in order to protect human subjects in a digital world in which future possible uses of data exceed the control of the researcher who collected them.
Big Data Ethics
2014 Richards, N.M. and King, J.H. Journal
We are on the cusp of a “Big Data” Revolution, in which increasingly large datasets are mined for important predictions and often surprising insights. The predictions and decisions this revolution will enable will transform our society in ways comparable to the Industrial Revolution. We are now at a critical moment; big data uses today will be sticky and will settle both default norms and public notions of what is “no big deal” regarding big data predictions for years to come.
This paper argues that big data, broadly defined, is producing increased powers of institutional awareness and power that require the development of a Big Data Ethics. We are building a new digital society, and the values we build or fail to build into our new digital structures will define us. Critically, if we fail to balance the human values that we care about, like privacy, confidentiality, transparency, identity and free choice with the compelling uses of big data, our Big Data Society risks abandoning these values for the sake of innovation and expediency.
The Devil's Long Tail: Religious and Other Radicals in the Internet Marketplace
2014 Stevens, D. and O’Hara, K. Book
This book is concerned with the links or relationships between religious radicalism, violent extremism and the Internet.
Home-Grown Jihadism in Italy: Birth, Development and Radicalization Dynamics
2014 Vidino, L. Book
This study aims only at analysing the dynamics of jihadist radicalisation in Italy. It is not meant to be a study of Islam or of the Italian Muslim community. Rather, it describes a phenomenon that, in Italy as in any other Western country, affects a statistically insignificant percentage of the Muslim population. Throughout Europe, jihadism is a fringe phenomenon, much debated but affecting only a few isolated individuals within largely peaceful Muslim communities.
The Radical Online: Individual Radicalization Processes and the Role of the Internet
2014 Koehler, D. Journal
This paper examines in detail the role of the Internet in individual radicalization processes of eight German former right-wing extremists. Applying Grounded Theory methodology the qualitative interviews were analyzed in several coding and re-coding phases. The findings are integrated into the existing literature afterwards. Besides well known factors, such as more effective communication, anonymity and better networking opportunities, this study found evidence that the Internet is a major driving factor to establish and foster the development of radical contrast societies (cf. Koehler, 2015) transmitting radical and violent ideologies and translating them into political activism. As a venue for information exchange, ideological development and training, the individual radicalization process was characteristically shaped or even made possible through the Internet. This paper also shows the high value of qualitative research regarding the topic in contrast to usually employed quantitative analysis of webpage content.
Radicalisation In The Digital Era: The Use of the Internet in 15 Cases of Terrorism and Extremism
2014 von Behr, I., Reding, A., Edwards, C. and Gribbon, L. Report
This study explores how the internet is used by individuals in the process of their radicalisation. It is based on primary data drawn from a variety of sources: evidence presented at trial, computer registries of convicted terrorists, interviews with convicted terrorists and extremists, as well as police senior investigative officers responsible for terrorist investigations.
De leefwereld en denkbeelden van Nederlandse en Belgische Syriëgangers: een analyse van elf Facebook-accounts
2014 Grol, P., Weggemans, D. and Bakker, E. Article
Content analysis of the posts from eleven Facebook accounts of known Dutch and Belgian foreign fighters (in Dutch). English summary is available here: http://leidensafetyandsecurityblog.nl/articles/foreign-fighters-on-social-media-an-analysis-of-11-facebook-accounts
The Dark Side of Online Activism: Swedish Right-Wing Extremist Video Activism on YouTube
2014 Ekman, M. Journal
In recent years, an emerging body of work, centred on specific communicative forms used in facilitating collective and connective action, have contributed to greater understanding of how digital communication relates to social mobilisation. Plenty of these studies highlight the progressive potentiality of digital communication. However, undemocratic actors also utilise the rapid advancement in digital technology. This article explores the online video activism of extreme right-wing groups in Sweden. It analyses more than 200 clips on YouTube, produced by five right-wing extremist organisations. The study shows that the extreme right deploy video activism as a strategy of visibility to mobilise and strengthen activists. Moreover, the groups attempt to alter the perception of (historically-rooted) socio-political identi- ties of the extreme right. Furthermore, YouTube becomes a political arena in which action repertoires and street politics are adapted to the specific characteristics of online video activism. Finally, video activism could be understood as an aestheticisation of politics.
Detecting Linguistic Markers for Radical Violence in Social Media
2014 Cohen, K., Johansson, F., Kaati, L. and Clausen Mork, J. Journal
Lone-wolf terrorism is a threat to the security of modern society, as was tragically shown in Norway on July 22, 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik carried out two terrorist attacks that resulted in a total of 77 deaths. Since lone wolves are acting on their own, information about them cannot be collected using traditional police methods such as infiltration or wiretapping. One way to attempt to discover them before it is too late is to search for various ‘‘weak signals’’ on the Internet, such as digital traces left in extremist web forums. With the right tools and techniques, such traces can be collected and analyzed. In this work, we focus on tools and techniques that can be used to detect weak signals in the form of linguistic markers for potential lone wolf terrorism.
Countering the Appeal of Extremism Online
2014 Briggs, R. and Feve, S. Policy
This Policy Briefing was commissioned by the Danish government and addresses various methods for tackling online extremism. It draws on discussions which took place at a Policy Planners Network (PPN) meeting held with a range of relevant stakeholders that took place in Copenhagen in June 2013.