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
Online Terrorism and Online Laws
2015 Walkera, C. and Conway, M. Journal
Terrorist and extremist movements have long exploited mass communications technology in pursuit of their political ends. The advent of the internet offers new opportunities. In response, state counter-measures seek to stem the impact of extreme ideologies by a number of tactics. “Positive” measures refer to those online initiatives that seek to make an impact through digital engagement and education and the provision of counter-narratives. “Negative” measures describe those approaches that advocate for, or result in, the deletion or restriction of violent extremist online content and/or the legal sanctioning of its online purveyors or users. More sanctions-based outcomes arise through discretionary state activity such as warnings and counselling of vulnerable individuals, or through disruptive counter-measures such as bans on the giving of lectures or prohibitions on the entry into the country of speakers or the taking down of extremist internet sites. Other measures step over into criminal justice, as when individuals are prosecuted for collecting materials or information (including typically information downloaded from the internet) or for issuing messages which can be construed as direct or indirect incitements to terrorism. This paper will analyse the responses to extremist uses of the internet, with an emphasis upon legal responses – “online laws”.
Countering Violent Extremism via Desecuritisation on Twitter
2017 Warrington, A. Article
The case of a civil society actor on Twitter entering a securitized discourse on terrorism illustrates the transformative theoretical potential that emerges from new forms of communication online. Through a qualitative analysis of tweets from the Average Mohamed profile, the potential to change a negative narrative of violent extremism operating within a securitised discourse of Islamic terrorism, is discussed in an online context. The arguments forming from this analysis offers a new approach to studying online counter narratives by linking a theoretical framework of securitisation and de-securitisation to recent political efforts Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE). Through the inclusion of a civil society Twitter account as an illustrative case, this paper explores how social media can challenge existing assumptions of who can be a de-securitising actor within security theory by blurring the lines between political and societal sectors in a securitised threat from Islamic terrorism. If and how a civil society actor can loosen the dichotomous discursive relationship between Self/Other relations within a contemporary discourse on terrorism becomes relevant for a theoretical discussion by presenting an argument suggesting that online CVE polices are more effective within the sphere of ‘normal’ politics rather than within the realm of securitization. This theoretical perspective offers an analytical framework including a wide range of actors involved in counter narratives policies which is useful for further CVE research.
'Sometimes You Just Have to Try Something': A Critical Analysis of Danish State-Led Initiatives Countering Online Radicalisation
2018 Warrington, A. Article
This research paper argues that Danish online radicalisation policies are driven by logics of urgency (the threat is imminent) within a limited realm of discursive possibilities (the threat is securitised) which blur the lines between state and civil society as well as state and private sector interactions. Potential political implications bring into play questions about the democratic values that are perceived as safeguarded by these policies. The Danish case shows that we (as citizens, policy makers and researchers) must engage in further discussions on dynamics between the current threat perception of online radicalisation and policies addressing such a threat. My argument is constructed from a discourse analysis of official documents as of 2016-2017 on countering and preventing violent extremism and an analysis of the political logics driving a state-level conceptualisation of online radicalisation through interviews with government officials. The two-part analysis is theoretically based on Securitisation from the Copenhagen School in combination with Critical Terrorism Studies to create a critically inspired approach that remains within existing structures of Danish politics. This is done to engage with the current political landscape characterised by a securitisation of specific forms of online content associated with the Islamic State as an Other. Online radicalisation is herein constructed as a multidimensional threat towards a societal Self referring to the physical safety of citizens and a value based ‘way of life’. The decentralised structure of the internet allows communication flows that enable radicalisation to be understood as an inter-sectoral threat where multiple elements of the referent object are threatened simultaneously. This threat perception challenges government officials in developing and implementing policies to address the threat of the Other while safeguarding the democratic values of the Danish Self.
Spiders of the Caliphate: Mapping the Islamic State’s Global Support Network on Facebook
2018 Waters, G. and Postings, R. Report
This report analyzes the strength of the Islamic State’s (IS) network on Facebook using online network measurement tools and uncovers the myriad of ways in which IS operates on Facebook. To do so, we mapped the accounts and connections between 1,000 IS-supporting Facebook profiles with links to 96 countries on every continent except Antarctica using the open-source network analysis and visualization software, Gephi. It should be noted, however, that hundreds of additional pro-IS profiles were excluded from the dataset. This is because while we were able to identify the IS supporting Facebook accounts, there was no information on those users’ locations. Therefore, this data represents only a portion of IS’s support network on the platform. Our analysis of online IS communities globally, regionally, and nationally suggests that IS’s online networks, in particular on Facebook, are growing and can be utilized to plan and direct terror attacks as well as mobilize foreign fighters for multiple areas of insurgency. Secondly, IS’s presence on Facebook is pervasive and professionalized, contrary to the tech company’s rhetoric and efforts to convince the public, policymakers, and corporate advertisers from believing otherwise. Our findings illustrate that IS has developed a structured and deliberate strategy of
using Facebook to radicalize, recruit, support, and terrorize individuals around the world. According to our observations, it appears that IS utilizes a limited number of central players who work to magnify the group’s presence on the platform, and also works to strengthen its networks so that no one individual IS Facebook account (node) serves as an irreplaceable connection (edge) to other pro-IS accounts located elsewhere.
"The Lions Of Tomorrow": A News Value Analysis Of Child Images In Jihadi Magazines
2018 Watkin, A. and Looney, S. Article
This article reports and discusses the results of a study that investigated photographic images of children in five online terrorist magazines to understand the roles of children in these groups. The analysis encompasses issues of Inspire, Dabiq, Jihad Recollections (JR), Azan, and Gaidi Mtanni (GM) from 2009 to 2016. The total number of images was ninety-four. A news value framework was applied that systematically investigated what values the images held that resulted in them being “newsworthy” enough to be published. This article discusses the key findings, which were that Dabiq distinguished different roles for boys and girls, portrayed fierce and prestigious boy child perpetrators, and children flourishing under the caliphate; Inspire and Azan focused on portraying children as victims of Western-backed warfare; GM portrayed children supporting the cause peacefully; and JR contained no re-occurring findings.
Personal Statement from James Watkins to Committee on Homeland Security 8chan Inquiry
2019 Watkins, J. Statement
Chairman Thompson and Members of the Committee: Today, James Watkins appears for a congressional deposition addressing your Committee’s concern over social media companies’ efforts to address online extremist content. We have prepared this statement in an effort to assist the Committee in understanding how careful and responsible a platform 8chan is. While Mr. Watkins is empathetic to the victims of mass shootings in America, 8chan has never tolerated illegal speech and has a consistent track record of working with law enforcement agencies when appropriate. After the current disruption of service, 8chan has taken steps to improve its ability to identify illegal content and to act more quickly in doing so. To these ends, it hopes to be of continued assistance to law enforcement officers in times of need. Mindful of tragedies America has faced, Mr. Watkins also believes in the exceptional promise of the First Amendment. 8chan is the only platform featuring a full commitment to free speech—a one-of-a-kind discussion board where anonymous users shared tactics about French democracy protests, how to circumvent censorship in repressive countries, and the best way to beat a classic video game. In this hodgepodge of chaotic discussion, down-home recipes are traded, sorrows lifted, and a small minority of users post hateful and ignorant items. As Justice Hugo Black once noted, the “First Amendment provides the only kind of security system that can preserve a free government – one that leaves the way wide open for people to favor, discuss, advocate, or incite causes and doctrines however obnoxious and antagonistic such views may be to the rest of us.” It is with this in mind that Mr. Watkins is proud to host the only platform compatible with the First Amendment.
New Zealand Government And Critical Infrastructure Ready Reaction To Cyber Terrorism
2008 Watt, A. C. MA Thesis
The purpose of this research is to obtain input from government agencies, elements of the critical infrastructure and cyber space, to determine what level of knowledge on cyber terrorism exists. Furthermore, are there ready reaction plans in place, and is staff-awareness training conducted on a regular basis? This probably won’t prevent or stop an attack of cyber terrorism, and like any other disaster in the IT world, if contingency planning exists, recovery can be quicker and greater mitigation of costs.

Interview questions were distributed to New Zealand government departments and elements that make up the critical infrastructure, to obtain an insight into the current situation. From this and other comparisons, inferences have been drawn to determine that if some of the groups were targeted would the fact that they could be deficient in knowledge on cyber terrorism, make the effect more intense and longer lasting. It has also provided the state of knowledge, the level of planning and the general readiness that currently exists.

In view of these findings recommendations have been made that will ensure there is consistency across all organisations, both government and nongovernment. All organisations, including the government, are reliant on the critical infrastructure and the internet for both operational and domestic survival. It is therefore pertinent that agencies give some consideration to these findings.
A Content Analysis of Persuasion Techniques Used on White Supremacist Websites
2005 Weatherby, G.A. and Scoggins, B. Journal
The Internet has made it possible for people to access just about any information they could possibly want. Conversely, it has given organizations a vehicle through which they can get their message out to a large audience. Hate groups have found the Internet particularly appealing, because they are able to get their uncensored message out to an unlimited number of people (ADL 2005). This is an issue that is not likely to go away.
Virtual Disputes: The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Debates
2007 Weimann, G. Journal
Terrorists are using the Internet for various purposes. Most of the attempts to monitor and study terrorist presence on the Net focused on the practical and communicative uses of this channel by modern terrorists. Yet, not much attention has been paid to the use of the Net as a medium for terrorist debates and disputes. This descriptive article presents this less noticed facet of terrorism on the Net by providing examples of virtual debates among and within terrorist groups. The analysis of the online controversies, disputes, and debates may say a lot about the mindsets of terrorists, their motivations, their doubts and fears. In many ways, it allows the researcher to open a window to a world about which so little is known. It may also serve counterterrorism: by learning the inner cleavages and debates one can find practical ways to support the voices against terror, to broaden gaps within these dangerous communities, and to channel the discourse to nonviolent forms of action.
Going Dark: Terrorism on the Dark Web
2015 Weimann, G. Journal
The terms Deep Web, Deep Net, Invisible Web, or Dark Web refer to the content on the World Wide Web that is not indexed by standard search engines. One can describe the Internet as composed of layers: the “upper” layer, or the Surface Web, can easily be accessed by regular searches. However, “deeper” layers, the content of the Deep Web, have not been indexed by traditional search engines such as Google. Michael K. Bergman who wrote the seminal paper on the Deep Web, compared searching the Internet to dragging a net across the surface of the ocean: a great deal may be caught in the net, but there is a wealth of information that is deeper and therefore missed. In fact, most of the Web's information is buried far down on sites, and standard search engines are unable to access it.
The Emerging Role of Social Media in the Recruitment of Foreign Fighters
2016 Weimann, G. Chapter
Without recruitment terrorism can not prevail, survive and develop. Recruitment provides the killers, the suicide bombers, the kidnappers, the executioners, the engineers, the soldiers and the armies of future terrorism. The internet has become a useful instrument for modern terrorists’ recruitment and especially of foreign fighters. Online platforms and particularly the new social media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) combine several advantages for the recruiters. The global reach of the Net allows groups to publicise events to more people; and by increasing the possibilities for interactive communication, new opportunities for assisting groups and individuals are offered, along with more chances for contacting them directly. Terrorist recruiters may use interactive online platforms to roam online communities, looking for more ‘promising’ and receptive individuals, using sophisticated profiling procedures. Online recruitment of foreign fighters by terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State (IS) is analysed here as an example of an online multichannel recruitment venue.
Terrorist Migration to the Dark Web
2016 Weimann, G. Journal
The terms Deep Web, Deep Net, Invisible Web, or Dark Web refer to the content on the World Wide Web that is not indexed by standard search engines. The deepest layers of the Deep Web, a segment known as the Dark Web, contain content that has been intentionally concealed including illegal and anti-social information. The conventional Surface Web was discovered to be too risky for anonymity-seeking terrorists: they could be monitored, traced, and found. In contrast, on the Dark Web, decentralized and anonymous networks aid in evading arrest and the closure of these terrorist platforms. This paper reports some of the recent trends in terrorist use of the Dark Web for communication, fundraising, storing information and online material.
Neuer Terrorismus Und Neue Medien
2015 Weimann, G. and Jost, J. Journal
Bereits seit den 1990er Jahren gebrauchen TerroristInnen das Internet für ihre Zwecke, das ihnen ganz neue Möglichkeiten für Propaganda, Rekrutierung, Radikalisierung, Finanzierung und Planung eröffnet hat. Statt auf eigene Webseiten setzen TerroristInnen heute zunehmend und gezielt auf die Neuen Medien. Diese bieten eine hervorragende kostenlose Infrastruktur und erlauben es, ein globales Publikum zu erreichen. Dieser Beitrag beschreibt die terroristische Nutzung der drei größten Social Media-Dienste – Facebook, Twitter und YouTube – und das dahinterstehende Kalkül. Besondere Beachtung finden dabei Inhalte mit Bezug zu Deutschland.
The Virus of Hate: Far-Right Terrorism in Cyberspace
2020 Weimann, G. and Masri, N. Report
Founded in 1996, the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) is one of the leading academic institutes for counter-terrorism in the world, facilitating international cooperation in the global struggle against terrorism. ICT is an independent think tank providing expertise in terrorism, counter-terrorism, homeland security, threat vulnerability and risk assessment, intelligence analysis and national security and defense policy. ICT is a non-profit organization located at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya, Israel which relies exclusively on private donations and revenue from events, projects and program.
Applying the Notion of Noise to Countering Online Terrorism
2008 Weimann, G. and Von Knop, K. Journal
The growing presence of modern terrorism on the Internet is at the nexus of two key trends: the democratization of communications driven by user-generated content on the Internet; and the growing awareness of modern terrorists of the potential of the Internet for their purposes. How best can the terrorists’ use and abuse of the Internet be countered? As this article argues, the answer to violent radicalization on the Internet lies not in censorship of the Internet, but in a more sophisticated and complicated strategy, relying on the theoretical notion of “noise” in communication process theory.

Comparison of Visual Motifs in Jihadi and Cholo Videos on YouTube
2009 Weisburd, A.A. Journal
Homegrown Sunni extremists (jihadis) and Latin American street gang members (cholos) represent potential threats to national security. Both groups are known to inhabit the video- sharing website YouTube. Videos representative of each group were selected at random, and the visual motifs in the videos were categorized. Findings suggest similarities and differences between the two groups that may have significance for how practitioners address each threat, and for determining the likelihood that the two groups may begin to work in concert. The portraits that emerge of jihadis and cholos may assist in developing strategies to counter the violence perpetrated by each.
#jihad: Understanding Social Media as a Weapon
2016 West, L.J. Journal
This article will argue that social media in the hands of terrorist groups constitutes a weapon, and has become increasingly capable of contributing to the facilitation of consequential harm against identified targets. In doing so it will first clarify the communicative nature of terrorist action and provide an overview of the various contributions made by jihadist strategists to the evolution of terrorist practice, and in particular the re-emergence of the practice of individual terrorism. It will then identify the intersection of individual terrorism and social media and the development and deployment of a system of social media jihad. 2 The article will explain the mechanisms by which terrorist groups exploit and deploy social media platforms, and inflict various harms, with a specific focus on individual and small cell terrorism in Western jurisdictions. Finally, a brief case study analysis of Anwar al-Awlaki will demonstrate the gravity with which governments have conceived of this problem, in part by highlighting the substantiveness of their responses.
#jihad: Understanding Social Media as a Weapon
2016 West, L.J. Journal
This article will argue that social media in the hands of terrorist groups constitutes a weapon, and has become increasingly capable of contributing to the facilitation of consequential harm against identified targets. In doing so it will first clarify the communicative nature of terrorist action and provide an overview of the various contributions made by jihadist strategists to the evolution of terrorist practice, and in particular the re-emergence of the practice of individual terrorism. It will then identify the intersection of individual terrorism and social media and the development and deployment of a system of social media jihad. 2 The article will explain the mechanisms by which terrorist groups exploit and deploy social media platforms, and inflict various harms, with a specific focus on individual and small cell terrorism in Western jurisdictions. Finally, a brief case study analysis of Anwar al-Awlaki will demonstrate the gravity with which governments have conceived of this problem, in part by highlighting the substantiveness of their responses.
Image and text relations in ISIS materials and the new relations established through recontextualisation in online media
2018 Wignell, P. ,O’Halloran L, K.,Tan S., Lange, R., Chai, K. Article
This study takes a systemic functional multimodal social semiotic approach to the analysis and discussion of image and text relations in two sets of data. First, patterns of contextualisation of images and text in the online magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah produced by the Islamic extremist organisation which refers to itself as Islamic State (referred to here as ISIS) are examined. The second data set consists of a sample of texts from Western online news and blog sites which include recontextualisations of images found in the first data set. A sample of examples of the use and re-use of images is discussed in order to identify patterns of similarity and difference when images and text are recontextualised. It is argued that the ISIS material tends to foreground the interpersonal metafunction in combination with the textual metafunction (i.e. the stance towards the content and the organisation of the message for this purpose), while the other data set tends to foreground the ideational metafunction (the participants, processes and circumstances of what is being reported). These inferences indicate that further exploration of a larger data set is worth pursuing. Such studies would provide deeper insights helping to distinguish between online material which supports terrorism and that which opposes it, as well as facilitating the further development of multimodal social semiotic approaches to image and text relations.
Under the shade of AK47s: a multimodal approach to violent extremist recruitment strategies for foreign fighters
2017 Wignell, P., Tan, S., and O'Halloran, KL. Article
Two notable features of the current conflict in Syria and Iraq are the number of foreign fighters from western countries fighting for Sunni militant organisations, and the use of the Internet and social media by some extremist groups to disseminate propaganda material. This article explores how the group which refers to itself as Islamic State and an affiliated British group, Rayat al Tawheed, deploy combinations of images and text which serve as bonding icons to rally supporters. The data consists of the English language edition of ISIS’s online magazine Dabiq and online materials produced by Rayat al Tawheed. The results suggest that ISIS and Rayat al Tawheed adopt similar but different iconisation strategies. While ISIS adopts a global strategy to present a unified world view utilising a range of ISIS values in its iconisation, Rayat al Tawheed foregrounds jihad using strategies specifically targeting young, English-speaking men of Islamic/Arab backgrounds.