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
Searching for Signs of Extremism on the Web: An Introduction to Sentiment-Based Identification of Radical Authors
2017 Scrivens, R., Davies, G., and Frank, R. Journal
As violent extremists continue to surface in online discussion forums, law enforcement agencies search for new ways of uncovering their digital indicators. Researchers have both described and hypothesized a number of ways to detect online traces of potential extremists, yet this area of inquiry remains in its infancy. This study proposes a new search method that, through the analysis of sentiment, identifies the most radical users within online forums. Although this method is applicable to web-forums of any type, the method was evaluated on four Islamic forums containing approximately 1 million posts of its 26,000 unique users. Several characteristics of each user’s postings were examined, including their posting behavior and the content of their posts. The content was analyzed using Parts-Of-Speech tagging, sentiment analysis, and a novel algorithm called ‘Sentiment-based Identification of Radical Authors’, which accounts for a user’s percentile score for average sentiment score, volume of negative posts, severity of negative posts, and duration of negative posts. The results suggest that there is no simple typology that best describes radical users online; however, the method is flexible enough to evaluate several properties of a user’s online activity that can identify radical users on the forums.
Sentiment-Based Identification of Radical Authors (SIRA).
2015 Scrivens, R., Davies, G., Frank, R. and Mei, J. Article
The Role of the Internet in Facilitating Violent Extremism and Terrorism: Suggestions for Progressing Research
2019 Scrivens, R., Gill, P. and Conway, M. Chapter
Many researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers continue to raise questions about the role of the Internet in facilitating violent extremism and terrorism. A surge in research on this issue notwithstanding, relatively few empirically grounded analyses are yet available. This chapter provides researchers with five key suggestions for progressing knowledge on the role of the Internet in facilitating violent extremism and terrorism so that we may be better placed to determine the significance of online content and activity in the latter going forward. These five suggestions relate to (1) collecting primary data across multiple types of populations; (2) making archives of violent extremist online content accessible for use by researchers and on user-friendly platforms; (3) outreaching beyond terrorism studies to become acquainted with, for example, the Internet studies literature and engaging in interdisciplinary research with, for example, computer scientists; (4) including former extremists in research projects, either as study participants or project collaborators; and (5) drawing connections between the on- and offline worlds of violent extremists.
Combating Violent Extremism Voices Of Former Right Wing Extremists
2019 Scrivens, R., Venkatesh, V., Bérubé, M. and Gaudette, T. Article
While it has become increasingly common for researchers, practitioners and policymakers to draw from the insights of former extremists to combat violent extremism, overlooked in this evolving space has been an in-depth look at how formers perceive such efforts. To address this gap, interviews were conducted with 10 Canadian former right-wing extremists based on a series of questions provided by 30 Canadian law enforcement officials and 10 community activists. Overall, formers suggest that combating violent extremism requires a multidimensional response, largely consisting of support from parents and families, teachers and educators, law enforcement officials, and other credible formers.
Understanding The Collective Identity Of The Radical Right Online: A Mixed-Methods Approach
2017 Scrivens, R.M. PhD Thesis
Criminologists have generally agreed that the Internet is not only a tool or resource for right-wing extremists to disseminate ideas and products, but also a site of important identity work, accomplished interactively through the exchange of radical ideas. Online discussion forums, amongst other interactive corners of the Web, have become an essential conduit for the radical right to air their grievances and bond around their “common enemy.” Yet overlooked in this discussion has been a macro-level understanding of the radical discussions that contribute to the broader collective identity of the extreme right online, as well as what constitutes “radical posting behavior” within this context. Drawing from criminal career measures to facilitate this type of analysis, data was extracted from a sub-forum of the most notorious white supremacy forum online, Stormfront, which included 141,763 posts made by 7,014 authors over approximately 15 years. In study one of this dissertation, Sentiment-based Identification of Radical Authors (SIRA), a sentiment analysis-based algorithm that draws from traditional criminal career measures to evaluate authors’ opinions, was used to identify and, by extension, assess forum authors’ radical posting behaviors using a mixed-methods approach. Study two extended on study one by using SIRA to quantify authors’ group-level sentiment about their common enemies: Jews, Blacks, and LGBTQs. Study three further extended on studies one and two by analyzing authors’ radical posting trajectories with semi-parametric group-based modeling. Results highlighted the applicability of criminal career measures to study radical discussions online. Not only did this mixed-methods approach provide theoretical insight into what constitutes radical posting behavior in a white supremacy forum, but it also shed light on the communication patterns that contribute to the broader collective identity of the extreme right online.
Letter dated 13 May 2015 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism addressed to the President of the Security Council
2015 Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1373 (2001) concerning counter-terrorism Report
The present report is the first in a series focusing on the capacity of Member States to respond to the challenges posed by the foreign terrorist fighter threat. Foreign terrorist fighters pose an acute and growing threat. They increase the intensity, duration and intractability of conflicts and may pose a serious threat to their States of origin, the States they transit and the States to which they travel, as well as States neighbouring zones of armed conflict in which foreign terrorist fighters are active, such as Jordan, that as a result are affected by serious security burdens and often need to commit massive resources to combat the impact, and which are, therefore, themselves victims of terrorism. The threat of foreign terrorist fighters may affect all regions and Member States, even those far from conflict zones. International networks have been established by terrorists and terrorist entities among States through which foreign terrorist fighters and the resources to support them have been channelled back and forth. In exploring the major risks posed by the foreign terrorist fighter phenomenon, the report assumes that the threat of terrorist acts resulting from a range of terrorist organizations, including, but not confined to, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Al-Nusrah Front, is rapidly changing and will not be fully geographically contained; that there appears to be virtually no short-term possibility of ending certain threats; and that a significant longer-term risk will derive from “alumni” foreign terrorist fighters upon their return to their own countries or upon their arrival in third countries. The report identifies an urgent need to establish effective flows of information at the national and international levels in the implementation of Security Council resolution 2178 (2014), as noted in Security Council resolutions 1373 (2001) and 2178 (2014), and suggests ways in which that can be done. It draws attention to the significant risks faced by small States due to the possible consequences of returning foreign terrorist fighters, and discusses the human rights implications of possible responses. Future reports will discuss ways to address recruitment, the challenges posed by Internet and communications technologies, exit and entry screening, returning foreign terrorist fighters and other issues. The Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate has identified an initial 67 Member States most affected by the acute and growing threat posed by
foreign terrorist fighters, who are defined in Security Council resolution 2178 (2014) as individuals who travel to a State other than their States of residence or nationality for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or the providing or receiving of terrorist training, including in connection with armed conflict. In reviewing the implementation of resolution 2178 (2014) by the first group of 21 States, the Executive Directorate has identified the following priority measures to be taken by States to prevent the movement of foreign terrorist fighters.
Global Terrorism and New Media The Post-Al Qaeda Generation
2011 Seib, P. and Janbek, D.M. Book
Global Terrorism and New Media carefully examines the content of terrorist websites and extremist television programming to provide a comprehensive look at how terrorist groups use new media today.

Based partly on a content analysis of discussion boards and forums, the authors share their findings on how terrorism 1.0 is migrating to 2.0 where the interactive nature of new media is used to build virtual organization and community. Although the creative use of social networking tools such as Facebook may advance the reach of terrorist groups, the impact of their use of new media remains uncertain. The book pays particular attention to terrorist media efforts directed at women and children, which are evidence of the long-term strategy that some terrorist organizations have adopted, and the relationship between terrorists’ media presence and actual terrorist activity. This volume also looks at the future of terrorism online and analyzes lessons learned from counterterrorism strategies.

This book will be of much interest to students of terrorism studies, media and communication studies, security studies and political science.
Skinhead Super Mario Brothers: An Examination of Racist and Violent Games on White Supremacist Web Sites
2010 Selepak, A. Article
This study uses qualitative interpretive textual analysis of video games found on hate and extremist Web sites to explore the proliferation of these games on the Internet and the extent they advocate violence and conflict or portray hate groups in a positive way to existing and potential members. In particular, this study examines the “enemies” targeted in these games and the level of violence directed toward these enemies. Results indicate the majority of games examined promoted extreme violence and conflict toward blacks and Jewish people. The games analyzed in this study required the player to violently kill, wound, and maim minorities in order to advance and were often modified versions of classic video games in which the original enemies were replaced with religious, racial and ethnic minorities. This study suggests that video games found on hate and extremist sites are intended to indoctrinate players with white supremacist ideology and allow individuals who already hold racist ideologies to practice aggressive scripts toward minorities which may later influence real world interactions.
White Hoods And Keyboards: An Examination Of The Klan And Ku Klux Klan Websites
2011 Selepak, A.G. PhD Thesis
The Ku Klux Klan is the oldest and most well-known extremist group in the United States with a history dating back nearly 150 years. The Klan has been featured in numerous movies, books, documentaries, and been the center of countless news stories. But, in recent years, the Ku Klux Klan has been all but forgotten by researchers who believed the Klan was a dying organization with a nearly extinct membership of individuals who could not accept the end of segregation and the Klan‟s defeat during the Civil Rights Movement. But, recent research by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows the Klan is not extinct, nor is the Klan dying. Instead, the Ku Klux Klan is growing with new members joining across the country and the world. Research has shown the recent growth in membership has been caused by the election of the first black President of the United States, a poor economy and high unemployment, and an increase in the minority population of the United States brought on by immigration. In addition, research has suggested the growth in groups like the Ku Klux Klan has been caused by an increase in the number of Ku Klux Klan web sites on the Internet. This study used grounded theory and a mixed-method approach to examine the proliferation of Klan web sites and to achieve a better understanding of the Ku Klux Klan and its recent rise in membership. Using content analysis of current Klan web sites and in-depth interviews with current Klan leaders, this study examined the beliefs of the Ku Klux Klan, the purpose of the Ku Klux Klan in the 21st Century, why the Klan creates and maintains web sites, and examined the membership of the Ku Klux Klan. Based on analysis of Klan web sites and interviews with Klan leaders, Ku Klux Klan beliefs fall under two general themes. First, the Klan believes white Christians are held to a double standard and not allowed to have pride in their culture and heritage, while at the same time treated unfairly by the media, society, and the government. Second, the Klan believes in racial separation, and the need for whites to either remove themselves from a society perceived as against them or to combat that society through political and legal involvement. Results suggest the Klan creates web sites not for the sole purpose of recruit, but instead, to inform the general public of the Klan‟s goals to combat a double standard in society, and to market the Klan to greater segment of the American population, by using the Internet to rebrand the image of the Klan as an organization dedicated to preserving white, American, and Christian culture. In addition, results indicate no one group exists that can claim the title of “Ku Klux Klan.” Instead, this study found a variety of Klan organizations exist with competing ideologies and beliefs. Using a mixed-methods approach of incorporating quantitative and qualitative data, this study found two types of Klan organizations exist. One Klan is a traditional fraternal organization, while the other is a more radical and extremist organization intent on becoming a paramilitary organization, church or political party. Members of the Klan were generally observed to be average American citizens with families. More specifically, Klan members were revealed to be white, politically and religiously conservative Christians, many of whom were military veterans and owned their own business, and in general were opposed to a changing world and changing American society.
Identifying Individuals at Risk of Being Radicalised Via the Internet
2016 Seng Neo, L., Dillon, L. and Khader, M. Journal
In an effort to better understand the risk of individuals being radicalised via the internet, this paper re-examines the phenomenon of online radicalisation by focusing on four considerations of interest: individual, online environment, interactions between individual and the online environment, and protective elements. A key premise of the discussion presented is that the different theoretical assumptions and linkages underlying each consideration are not only reconcilable but that together they provide a more comprehensive understanding of assessing risk of radicalisation via the internet than any perspective by itself. Implications for operationalising these four considerations and their associated factors to identify individuals at risk of being radicalised via the internet will also be discussed.
Class-based Prediction Errors to Detect Hate Speech with Out-of-vocabulary Words
2017 Serra, J., Leontiadis, I., Spathis, D., Stringhini, G., Blackburn, J. and Vakali, A. Article
Common approaches to text categorization essentially rely either on n-gram counts or on word embeddings. This presents important difficulties in highly dynamic or quickly-interacting environments, where the appearance of new words and/or varied misspellings is the norm. A paradigmatic example of this situation is abusive online behavior, with social networks and media platforms struggling to effectively combat uncommon or nonblacklisted hate words. To better deal with these issues in those fast-paced environments, we propose using the error signal
of class-based language models as input to text classification algorithms. In particular, we train a next-character prediction model for any given class, and then exploit the error of such class-based models.
to inform a neural network classifier. This
way, we shift from the ability to describe
seen documents to the ability to predict
unseen content. Preliminary studies using out-of-vocabulary splits from abusive
tweet data show promising results, outperforming competitive text categorization
strategies by 4–11%.
Global Village, Global Marketplace, Global War On Terror: Metaphorical Reinscription And Global Internet Governance
2009 Shah, N. PhD Thesis
My thesis examines how metaphors of globalization shape the global governance of the Internet. I consider how, in a short span of time, discussions of the Internet’s globalizing potential have gone from the optimism of the global village to the penchant of the global marketplace to the anxiety of the global war on terror. Building upon Rorty’s theory of metaphors and Foucault’s notion of productive power, I investigate how the shifts in these prevailing metaphors have produced and legitimated different frameworks of global governance. In considering how these patterns of governance have been shaped in the context of a familiar example of globalization, I demonstrate that globalization has an important discursive dimension that works as a constitutive force – not only in Internet governance but in global governance more generally. By illuminating globalization’s discursive dimensions, this thesis makes an original theoretical contribution to the study of globalization and global governance. It demonstrates that globalization is more than a set of empirical flows: equally important, globalization exists as a set of discourses that reconstitute political legitimacy in more ‘global’ terms. This recasts the conventional understanding of global governance: rather than a response to the challenges posed by the empirical transcendence of territorial borders or the visible proliferation of non-state actors, the aims, institutions, and policies of global governance are shaped and enabled by discourses of globalization and evolve as these discourses change. In short, this thesis provides further insight into globalization’s transformations of state-based political order. It links these transformations to the discursive processes by which systems of global governance are produced and legitimated as sites of power and authority.
Foreign Fighters, Radicalization and the Online Environment - Mubin Shaikh
2016 Shaikh, M. Video
Mubin Shaikh, Police Project Consultant with the Romeo Dallaire Initiative, discusses the evolution of radical propaganda online, social media and foreign fighters and the need for a robust counter narrative. Mr. Shaikh brings his real world knowledge of these issues as a former CSIS and RCMP operative, discussing them from the perspective of a real world and online counter-terrorism practitioner.

This interview is part of The SecDev Foundation's Prevent Violent Extremism: A Social Media Research Portal - https://preventviolentextremism.info/
The Enduring Influence of Anwar Al-Awlaki in the age of the Islamic State
2016 Shane, S. Article
Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the leading English-language propagandist for al-Qa`ida, was killed in an American drone strike in 2011. But his influence has lived on into the Islamic State era, enhanced by his status as a martyr for Islam in the eyes of his admirers. His massive internet presence has turned up as a factor in several attacks since his death, including most recently the San Bernardino shootings and the Orlando nightclub attack as well as a significant number of terrorism cases on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite his long association with al-Qa`ida and that network’s rivalry with the upstart Islamic State, al-Awlaki has been embraced by the Islamic State and its followers, and he continues to inspire terrorism from beyond the grave.
Black-boxing the Black Flag: Anonymous Sharing Platforms and ISIS Content Distribution Tactics
2018 Shehabat, A. and Mitew, T. Article
The study examines three anonymous sharing portals employed strategically by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) to achieve its political ends. This study argues that anonymous sharing portals such as Sendvid.com, Justpast.it, and Dump.to have been instrumental in allowing individual jihadists to generate content, disseminate propaganda and communicate freely while routing around filtering practiced by popular social media networks.The study draws on Actor Network Theory (ANT) in examining the relationship between ISIS jihadists and the emergence of anonymous sharing portals. The study suggests that, even though used prior to the massive degrading operation across social media, anonymous sharing portals were instrumental in allowing ISIS to maintain its networking structure in the face of coordinated disruption.
Encrypted Jihad: Investigating the Role of Telegram App in Lone Wolf Attacks in the West
2017 Shehabat, A., Mitwe, T., and Alzoubi Y. Article
The study aims to capture links between the use of encrypted communication channel -Telegram and lone wolf attacks occurred in Europe between 2015-2016. To understand threads of ISIS communication on Telegram we used digital ethnography approach which consists of the self-observation of information flows on four of ISIS’s most celebrated telegram Channels. We draw on public sphere theory and coined the term terror socio-sphere 3.0 as the theoretical background of this study. The collected data is presented as screenshots to capture a visual evidence of ISIS communication threads. This study shows that ISIS Telegram channels play critical role in personal communication between potential recruits and dissemination of propaganda that encourage ‘lone wolves’ to carry attacks in the world at large. This study was limited to the number of the channels that have been widely celebrated.
Histories of Hating
2015 Shepherd, T. and Harvey, A. Journal
This roundtable discussion presents a dialogue between digital culture scholars on the seemingly increased presence of hating and hate speech online. Revolving primarily around the recent #GamerGate campaign of intensely misogynistic discourse aimed at women in video games, the discussion suggests that the current moment for hate online needs to be situated historically. From the perspective of intersecting cultural histories of hate speech, discrimination, and networked communication, we interrogate the ontological specificity of online hating before going on to explore potential responses to the harmful consequences of hateful speech. Finally, a research agenda for furthering the historical understandings of
contemporary online hating is suggested in order to address the urgent need for scholarly interventions into the exclusionary cultures of networked media.
Hezbollah’s “Virtual Entrepreneurs”: How Hezbollah Is Using The Internet To Incite Violence In Israel
2019 Shkolnik, M. and Corbeil, A. Article
In recent years, Hezbollah has used social media to recruit Israeli Arabs and West Bank-based Palestinians to attack Israeli targets. A recent innovation in terrorist tactics has given rise to “virtual entrepreneurs,” which to date have been largely associated with the Islamic State’s online recruitment efforts. Hezbollah’s virtual planners, similar to those in the Islamic State, use social media to establish contact with potential recruits before transitioning to more encrypted communications platforms, transferring funds, and issuing instructions to form cells, conduct surveillance, and carry out terrorist attacks. Online recruitment presents a low-cost option that offers plausible deniability for Hezbollah. While every virtual plot led by Hezbollah that targeted Israel has been foiled thus far, Israeli authorities spend time and resources disrupting these schemes at the expense of other more pressing threats. By digitally recruiting Palestinians to attack Israel, Hezbollah and its patron Iran are seeking to cultivate a new front against Israel amid rising regional hostilities.
“On the Internet, Nobody Knows You're a Dog”: The Online Risk Assessment of Violent Extremists
2016 Shortland, N. Article
Online behaviour can provide a unique window from which we can glean intent. From an intelligence standpoint it provides an important source of open-source information. However, making inference of intent from online activity is inherently difficult. Yet elsewhere progress is being made in incorporating information online into decisions regarding risk and offender prioritisation. This chapter synthesises lessons learnt from studies of risk assessment of violent extremists, risk assessment online, and the form and function of extremist materials online in order to begin to approach the issue of online risk assessment of violent extremism. In doing so it highlights issues associated with the diversity of online extremist behaviour, the diversity of offline extremist behaviour and the general lack of understanding related to the interaction of online and offline experiences, and how this contributes to the wider psychological process of ‘radicalisation'. Implications for practitioners are discussed.
The Interaction of Extremist Propaganda and Anger as Predictors of Violent Responses
2017 Shortland, N., Nader, E., Imperillo, N., Kyrielle, R. and Dmello, J. Journal
In this study, and with a view to extending upon existing findings on the effects of general violent media on violent cognitions, we experimentally measured the relationship between exposure to extremist propaganda and violent cognitions. Our results countered our hypotheses and the wider findings of violent media and aggression that exposure to violent stimuli increases violent thoughts and that this effect is moderated by trait aggression. Specifically, this study found that participants with low and medium trait aggression became more pro-social after being exposed to extremist propaganda. We discuss these results with reference to theories of terror management and mortality salience, as well as the implications of these results for wider theories of the role of online extremist material in the wider “radicalization” process.