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
Immigrant, Nationalist And Proud: A Twitter Analysis Of Indian Diaspora Supporters For Brexit And Trump
2019 Leidig, E. C. Article
The Brexit referendum to leave the EU and Trump’s success in the US general election in 2016 sparked new waves of discussion on nativism, nationalism, and the far right. Within these analyses, however, very little attention has been devoted towards exploring the transnational ideological circulation of Islamophobia and anti-establishment sentiment, especially amongst diaspora and migrant networks. This article thus explores the role of the Indian diaspora as mediators in populist radical right discourse in the West. During the Brexit referendum and Trump’s election and presidency, a number of Indian diaspora voices took to Twitter to express pro-Brexit and pro-Trump views. This article presents a year-long qualitative study of these users. It highlights how these diasporic Indians interact and engage on Twitter in order to signal belonging on multiple levels: as individuals, as an imaginary collective non-Muslim diaspora, and as members of (populist radical right) Twitter society. By analysing these users’ social media performativity, we obtain insight into how social media spaces may help construct ethnic and (trans)national identities according to boundaries of inclusion/exclusion. This article demonstrates how some Indian diaspora individuals are embedded into exclusivist national political agendas of the populist radical right in Western societies.
Contextual Semantics for Radicalisation Detection on Twitter
2018 Fernandez, M. and Alani, H. Article
Much research aims to detect online radical content mainly using
radicalisation glossaries, i.e., by looking for terms and expressions associated with
religion, war, offensive language, etc. However, such crude methods are highly
inaccurate towards content that uses radicalisation terminology to simply report on
current events, to share harmless religious rhetoric, or even to counter extremism.
Language is complex and the context in which particular terms are used should not
be disregarded. In this paper, we propose an approach for building a representation
of the semantic context of the terms that are linked to radicalised rhetoric. We
use this approach to analyse over 114K tweets that contain radicalisation-terms
(around 17K posted by pro-ISIS users, and 97k posted by “general” Twitter users).
We report on how the contextual information differs for the same radicalisationterms
in the two datasets, which indicate that contextual semantics can help to
better discriminate radical content from content that only uses radical terminology.
The classifiers we built to test this hypothesis outperform those that disregard
contextual information.
Dar al-Islam: A Quantitative Analysis of ISIS’s French-Language Magazine
2018 Sparks, C. A. Article
This study is a content analysis of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s French-language magazine Dar al-Islam. The first seven issues of the magazine are quantitatively examined and broken down into the number of articles, images, and terms used as a means of determining how ISIS targets French-speaking individuals. This study find that ISIS focuses on religious terminology and justifications to rationalize its existence and its fight. Also, despite being a French-language magazine, a majority of the focus is on Middle Eastern groups, not Western groups. Overall, the magazine is similar, but not a carbon copy to ISIS’s English-language magazine, Dabiq.

Taking North American White Supremacist Groups Seriously: The Scope and Challenge of Hate Speech on the Internet
2018 Cohen-Almagor, R. Article
This article aims to address two questions: how does hate speech manifest on North American white supremacist websites; and is there a connection between online hate speech and hate crime? Firstly, hate speech is defined and the research methodology upon which the article is based is explained. The ways that ‘hate’ groups utilize the Internet and their purposes in doing so are then analysed, with the content and the functions of their websites as well as their agenda examined. Finally, the article explores the connection between hate speech and hate crime. I argue that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that speech can and does inspire crime. The article is based in the main on primary sources: a study of many ‘hate’ websites; and interviews and discussions with experts in the field.
Finding Extremists in Online Social Networks
2018 Klausen, J., Marks E. C., Zaman T. Article
Online extremists’ use of social media poses a new form of threat to the general public. These extremists range from cyberbullies to terrorist organizations. Social media providers often suspend the extremists’ accounts in response to user complaints. However, extremist users can simply create new accounts and continue their activities. In this work we present a new set of operational capabilities to address the threat posed by online extremists in social networks. We use thousands of Twitter accounts related to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to develop behavioral models for these users—in particular, what their accounts look like and with whom they connect. We use these models to track existing extremist users by identifying pairs of accounts belonging to the same user. We then present a model for efficiently searching the social network to find suspended users’ new accounts based on a variant of the classic Pólya’s urn setup. We find a simple characterization of the optimal search policy for this model under fairly general conditions. Our urn model and main theoretical results generalize easily to search problems in other fields.
Invisible Empire of Hate: Gender Differences in the Ku Klux Klan's Online Justifications for Violence
2018 Cohen J. S., Holt J. T.,Chermak M.S, and Freilich D. J. Article
This article presents a systematic linguistic approach to mapping gender differences in the formulation and practice of right-wing ideology. We conducted a set of content- and text-analytical analyses on a 52,760 words corpus from a female-only subforum, dubbed LOTIES (Ladies of the Invisible Empire), compared with a matching corpus of 1.793 million words from a male-only subforum of the Ku Klux Klan's primary website. Using a combination of computational and noncomputational linguistic methods, we show that the wholesome and avowedly prosocial discourse of the female forum is a gateway to Klan activity and, ultimately, to the Klan's ideology through a fear-based “all means are necessary” mindset and violent sentiments. The findings also suggest that the female forum's porousness and emphasis on inclusion and homogeneity may have facilitated the spontaneous “mutation” of the traditional KKK ideology into a generic Far-Right ideology that enjoys broad consensus. Rhetorically, this generic right-wing ideology downplays overt racial and violent elements and eschews theological controversies by relating to Christianity instrumentally as a cultural heritage rather than a religion in the metaphysical sense of the word.
To Train Terrorists Onsite or Motivate via the Internet…That is the Question
2020 Siqueira, K. and Arce, D. Article
This paper investigates an agency model of a terrorist organization in which the training and motivation of recruits can occur onsite, in physical training camps, or at arm's length through the Internet. In so doing, we develop measures of the effectiveness and efficacy of these recruit training methods. A dividing line for choosing between the two is characterized in terms of the degree to which onsite training augments an operative's probability of mission success. In comparing our results to data on terror-tactic lethality, one implication is that terrorist organizations are likely to consider Internet training as sufficient for any tactic that is less complex and less lethal than vehicular assaults, and will require onsite motivation and training for more complex missions such as multiple-operative mass shootings and suicide bombings.
Livestreaming the ‘wretched of the Earth’: The Christchurch massacre and the ‘death-bound subject’
2020 Ibrahim, Y. Article
The livestreaming of terror, its co-production through live consumption and the massacre of lives as ‘entertainment’ propelled us into another long abyss of ethical challenges in the case of the xenophobic terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019. Livestreaming, as part of the convergence of technologies, enables narration in ‘real’ time, dragging us into a new ‘banalisation of evil’ where terror and torture can be co-produced by inviting audiences to consume through the vantage point of the perpetrator. This article examines the Muslim ‘body’ through JanMohamed’s notion of the ‘death-bound subject’ where the continual threat of death foreshadows the Muslim body, imbricating it within a political and ideological archaeology wherein both its possibility of death and the performance of death enter into a realm of theatrics of production incumbent upon invoking new moralities around consumption and its residues as a screen image. The ‘wretched of the Earth’ and their residues as immaterial matter online as the ‘wretched of the screen’ connote a new architecture of violence conjoining the temporalities of liveness with the sharing features of ‘semiotic capitalism’.
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.
The Transnationalisation of Far Right Discourse on Twitter
2018 Froio, C. Ganesh, B. Article
How transnational are the audiences of far right parties and movements on Twitter? While an increasing number of contributions addresses the topic of transnationalism in far right politics, few systematic investigations exist on the actors and discourses favored in transnational exchanges on social media. Building on the literature on the far right, social movements, transnationalism and the Internet, the paper addresses this gap by studying the initiators and the issues that are favored in online exchanges between audiences of far right organizations, e.g. political parties and movements across France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom. We use a new dataset on the activities of far right Twitter users that is analyzed through a mixed methods approach. Using social network analysis, we detect transnational links between far right organizations across countries based on retweets from audiences of far right Twitter users. Retweets are qualitatively coded for content and compared to the content retweeted within national communities. Finally, using a logistic regression, we quantify the level to which specific issues and organizations enjoy high levels of attention across borders. Subsequently, we use discourse analysis to qualitatively reconstruct the interpretative frames accompanying these patterns. We find that although social media are often ascribed much power in favoring transnational exchanges between far right organizations, there is little evidence of this. Only a few issues (anti-immigration and nativist interpretations of the economy) garner transnational far right audiences on Twitter. In addition, we find that more than movements, political parties play a prominent role in the construction of a transnational far right discourse.
Generalized Gelation Theory Describes Onset of Online Extremist Support
2018 Manrique,P., Zheng, M., Cao,Z., Restrepo, E., Johnson, N.F. Article
We introduce a generalized form of gelation theory that incorporates individual heterogeneity and show that it can explain the asynchronous, sudden appearance and growth of online extremist groups supporting ISIS (so-called Islamic State) that emerged globally post-2014. The theory predicts how heterogeneity impacts their onset times and growth profiles and suggests that online extremist groups present a broad distribution of heterogeneity-dependent aggregation mechanisms centered around homophily. The good agreement between the theory and empirical data suggests that existing strategies aiming to defeat online extremism under the assumption that it is driven by a few “bad apples” are misguided. More generally, this generalized theory should apply to a range of real-world systems featuring aggregation among heterogeneous objects.
Disrupting Daesh: Measuring Takedown of Online Terrorist Material and Its Impacts
2018 Conway, M., Khawaja, M., Lakhani, S., Reffin, J., Robertson, A., & Weir, D. Article
This article contributes to public and policy debates on the value of social media disruption activity with respect to terrorist material. In particular, it explores aggressive account and content takedown, with the aim of accurately measuring this activity and its impacts. The major emphasis of the analysis is the so-called Islamic State (IS) and disruption of their online activity, but a catchall “Other Jihadi” category is also utilized for comparison purposes. Our findings challenge the notion that Twitter remains a conducive space for pro-IS accounts and communities to flourish. However, not all jihadists on Twitter are subject to the same high levels of disruption as IS, and we show that there is differential disruption taking place. IS’s and other jihadists’ online activity was never solely restricted to Twitter; it is just one node in a wider jihadist social media ecology. This is described and some preliminary analysis of disruption trends in this area supplied too.

Validating extremism Strategic use of authority appeals in al-Naba’ infographics
2018 Winkler C., el-Damanhoury, K., Lemieux, A. Article
Daesh’s centralized media operations provide a steady stream of media products to citizens living in and around its controlled territories, with the result that several nations occupied or adjacent to the group have emerged as many of the most fruitful recruiting grounds for new members. To better understand the argumentation strategies targeting such audiences, this study examines the 119 infographics in the first 50 issues of Daesh’s official weekly Arabic newsletter, al-Naba’. The findings suggest that through a patterned application of statistical, historical, religious, and scientific arguments from authority to predictable topical areas, the infographics in al-Naba’ reinforce Daesh as a key source of information for the citizenry of the proclaimed caliphate.
Innovation and terror: an analysis of the use of social media by terror-related groups in the Asia Pacific
2018 Droogan, J., Waldek, L., Blackhall, R. Article
The advent of social media platforms has created an online environment that transcends geographic and political boundaries as well as traditional mechanisms of state-based authority. The decentralised nature of social media and its ability to disseminate content anonymously and to reach wide audiences has afforded violent extremist groups opportunities to further propaganda, recruitment, radicalisation, fundraising and operational planning. This paper examines three violent extremist-related groups operating in Asia Pacific: one ‘classic’ terrorist – Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines; one a dissident political party – Jamaat-e-Islami in Bangladesh; and one a broad ethno-religious separatist movement – the Uyghurs in China. Each study highlights how the adoption of proactive social media strategies affords the group numerous opportunities to maximise their reach, impact and effect. However, the same technological specificities that generate these possibilities also expose the groups to new vulnerabilities and risks.
A Large-Scale Study Of ISIS Social Media Strategy: Community Size, Collective Influence, And Behavioral Impact
2019 Alfifi, M., Kaghazgaran, P. and Caverlee, J. Article
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has received a tremendous amount of media coverage in the past few years for their successful use of social media to spread their message and to recruit new members. In this work, we leverage access to the full Twitter Firehose to perform a large-scale observational study of one year of ISIS social activity. We quantify the size of ISIS presence on Twitter, the potential amount of support it received, and its collective influence over time. We find that ISIS was able to gain a relatively limited portion from the total influence mass on Twitter and that this influence diminished over time. In addition, ISIS showed a tendency towards attracting interactions from
other similar pro-ISIS accounts, while inviting only a limited anti-ISIS sentiment. We find that 75% of the interactions ISIS received on Twitter in 2015 actually came from eventually suspended accounts and that only about 8% of the interactions they received were anti-ISIS. In addition, we have created a unique dataset of 17 million ISIS-related tweets posted in 2015 which we make available for research purposes upon request.
Promoting Extreme Violence: Visual and Narrative Analysis of Select Ultraviolent Terror Propaganda Videos Produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in 2015 and 2016
2018 Venkatesh,V., Podoshen, J., Wallin, J., Rabah, J., Glass, D. Article
This paper examines aspects of violent, traumatic terrorist video propaganda produced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) within the theoretical confines of abjection and the use of utopian/dystopian themes. These themes have been present in a number of studies that have examined consumption of the dark dystopic variety. We seek to elucidate on the use of specific techniques and narratives that are relatively new to the global propaganda consumerspace and that relate to horrific violence. Our work here is centered on interpretative analysis and theory building that we believe can assist in understanding and interpreting post-apocalyptic and abject-oriented campaigns in the age of social media and rapid transmission of multimedia communications. In the present analysis, we examine eight ISIS videos created and released in 2015 and 2016. All of the videos chosen for analysis have utilized techniques related to abjection, shock, and horror, often culminating in the filming of the murder of ISIS’s enemies or place-based destruction of holy sites in the Middle East. We use inductive content analytic techniques in the contexts of consumer culture, “cinemas of attraction,” and pornography of violence to propose an extension of existing frameworks of terrorism and propaganda theory.
Terrorism and the Proportionality of Internet Surveillance
2009 Brown, I., Douwe, K. Article
As the Internet has become a mainstream communications mechanism, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have developed new surveillance capabilities and been given new legal powers to monitor its users. These capabilities have been particularly targeted toward terrorism suspects and organizations that have been observed using the Internet for communication, propaganda, research, planning, publicity, fundraising and creating a distributed sense of community. Policing has become increasingly pre-emptive, with a range of activities criminalized as `supporting' or `apologizing for' terrorism. The privacy and non-discrimination rights that are core to the European legal framework are being challenged by the increased surveillance and profiling of terrorism suspects. We argue that their disproportionate nature is problematic for democracy and the rule of law, and will lead to practical difficulties for cross-border cooperation between law enforcement agencies.
Exploring the “Demand Side” of Online Radicalization: Evidence from the Canadian Context
2018 Bastung, M., Douai, A., Akca, D. Article
We examined whether and how social media play a role in the process of radicalization, and whether and for what purposes extremists use social media after they become radicalized within a sample of fifty-one Canadian extremists. Differences between converts and non-converts in terms of their radicalization process, involvement in terrorism, and social media usage were also investigated. Data were collected from a combination of media reports via an in-depth LexisNexis search and court records obtained from The Canadian Legal Information Institute database. The results confirm that social media played a role either during or after the radicalization process of the majority of the sample and converts are more vulnerable to online radicalization than non-converts.
Populism, extremism and media: Mapping an uncertain terrain
2016 Alvares, C., Dahlgren, P. Article
Aiming to critically review key research on populism, extremism and media, this article examines some definition aspects of populism as a concept, its relation to ‘the people’ and points to future directions for research in mainstream – and social media – the terrain where so much of the political is played out. An individualisation of civic cultures has emerged in tandem with the growth of mediated populism through the use of new technologies, with a tendency towards personalisation in the public domain. While the new technological affordances exemplified by Web 2.0 may have contributed to intensified forms of popular engagement, they have been less successful in promoting democratic values, as shown by the results of the May 2014 European Parliamentary elections. Thus, the question as to the type of publics that are ‘possible and desirable in present circumstances’ (Nolan, 2008: 747) remains valid, for publics can espouse anti-democratic values while nevertheless remaining ‘publics’. The fact that the link between the new media and right-wing extremism has been comparatively explored at greater length than that of a religious bend indicates the need to invest in the latter, especially due to home-bred Islamic terrorism increasingly seen as threatening the multiculturalism of various European societies. Several avenues for research are presented to this effect, with a final reflection on the challenge posed by new media to the concept of media populism, both in terms of the Net’s market logics and the specificity of its architecture.
Trans-mediatized terrorism: The Sydney Lindt Café siege
2018 Ali, S., Khattab, U. Article
This article presents an empirical analysis of the Australian media representation of terrorism using the 2014 Sydney Lindt Café siege as a case in point to engage with the notion of moral panic. Deploying critical discourse analysis and case study as mixed methods, insights into trans-media narratives and aftermath of the terrifying siege are presented. While news media appeared to collaborate with the Australian right-wing government in the reporting of terrorism, social media posed challenges and raised security concerns for the state. Social media heightened the drama as sites were variously deployed by the perpetrator, activists and concerned members of the public. The amplified trans-media association of Muslims with terrorism in Australia and its national and global impact, in terms of the political exclusion of Muslims, are best described in this article in the form of an Islamophobic Moral Panic Model, invented for a rethink of the various stages of its occurrence, intensification and institutionalization.