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
The Effectiveness Of The Principle Of Distinction In The Context Of Cyber Warfare
2014 Van Breda, L. C. MA Thesis
International humanitarian law provides foundational norms which are to be observed by states in order to protect civilians from the harsh realities of war. These norms have been applied to traditional kinetic methods of warfare but as technology advances at a rapid pace so too do methods of warfare. As weaponry becomes more sophisticated it is necessary to revisit the foundational principles of international humanitarian law and apply them to situations that could only previously have been imagined. The principles of distinction is a core principle of this branch of law and it is not to be disregarded as a result of the fact that it predates modern methods of warfare but rather it is to be re-examined, its importance observed and applied to the warfare that we are faced with today. Protecting civilians has been of utmost importance in recent history and the development in the technology of weapons should not change that fact in the present or future.
The Effects of User Features on Twitter Hate Speech Detection
2018 Unsvåg, E.F. and Gambäck, B. Article
The paper investigates the potential effects user features have on hate speech classification. A quantitative analysis of Twitter data was conducted to better understand user characteristics, but no correlations were found between hateful text and the characteristics of the users who had posted it. However, experiments with a hate speech classifier based on datasets from three different languages showed that combining certain user features with textual features gave slight improvements of classification performance. While the incorporation of user features resulted in varying impact on performance for the different datasets used, user network-related features provided the most consistent improvements.
The Eglyph Web Crawler: ISIS Content on YouTube
2018 Counter Extremism Project Report
From March 8 to June 8, 2018, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) conducted a study to better understand how ISIS content is being uploaded to YouTube, how long it is staying online, and how many views these videos receive. To accomplish this, CEP conducted a limited search for a small set of just 229 previously-identified ISIS terror-related videos from among the trove of extremist material available on the platform. CEP used two computer programs to locate these ISIS videos: a web crawler to search video titles and descriptions for keywords in videos uploaded to YouTube, and eGLYPH, a robust hashing content-identification system. CEP’s search of a limited set of ISIS terror-related videos found that hundreds of ISIS videos are uploaded to YouTube every month, which in turn garner thousands of views.
The Electronic Starry Plough: The Enationalism of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM)
2001 Dartnell, M. Journal
This paper takes the case of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM) as the point of departure to discuss how insurgent political movement use Web communications. From mirror sites in Ireland and North America, IRSM supporters regularly use Web technology to relay the group message to a global audience at http://www.irsm.org/irsm.html. The resulting direct media contact gives the IRSM unprecedented access to global civil society. By referring to the IRSM Web site, the types of messages transmitted, the forms of transmission (text, video, audio, e-mail or other), and target audiences (national, global, political elites, media), this paper outlines some of the issues and challenges posed by Web-based anti-government media. The Internet and the Web do not constitute a threat to state power as some analysts suggest but at the same time they significantly alter political communication. The IRSM is a case of "enationalism", that is, the representation of a place as home to a specific group of people. Unlike traditional nationalism, enationalism is not tied to physical space or territory, but to representation of a network of relations based on a common language, historical experience, religion and/or culture. It is about both memory and future projection of a place as the home for a given group. In this light, new media will likely co-exist with other forms of political communication for some time.
The Emergence Of Violent Narratives In The Life-Course Trajectories Of Online Forum Participants
2016 Levey, P. MA Thesis
Drawing from Life Course Theory (LCT) and General Strain Theory (GST), the current study sought to address the development of negative affect in the online context, specifically whether the turning point of entrance into adulthood was associated with a change in the sentiment expressed online. A mixed-methods approach was employed, whereby 96 individuals were sampled from 3 online Islamic forums, and approximately 3000 posts per user were analyzed over 9 years. Quantitative results display a development in sentiment over time (increasing in negativity) for both minors and adults. Qualitatively, most users displayed a change in overall posting content throughout their time online; but a select few did not display any development – these individuals were the most negative/extreme on the forum. Implications of these findings for research on the role of the Internet in the development of negative narratives and extremism are discussed, as well as avenues for future research.
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.
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.
The EU Digital Services Act (DSA): Recommendations For An Effective Regulation Against Terrorist Content Online
2020 Ritzmann, A., Farid, H. and Schindler, H-J. Policy
In 2020, the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) Berlin carried out a sample analysis to test the extent to which YouTube, Facebook and Instagram block “manifestly illegal” terrorist content upon notification. Our findings raise doubts that the currently applied compliance systems of these companies achieve the objectives of making their services safe for users. As a result, CEP proposed requirements for effective and transparent compliance regimes with a focus on automated decision-making tools and lessons learned from the regulation of the financial industry. This Policy Paper combines all the relevant lessons learned and gives concrete recommendations on how to make the DSA also an effective regulation against terrorist content online.
The Evolution of Online Violent Extremism In Indonesia And The Philippines
2019 Nuraniyah, N. Report
Pro-Daesh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS) groups in Indonesia and the Philippines have come to rely on social media for propaganda, fundraising and disseminating instructional material, but in different ways. While Indonesian online extremism has deep roots, with local networks exploiting various online platforms over the past decade, extremist social media in the Philippines only really took off as a consequence of the May 2017 siege in the southern Philippine city of Marawi by pro-Daesh militants. This paper outlines the evolving use of online platforms by pro-Daesh groups in both countries and how this has enabled extremists to develop and strengthen their networks. Social media and encrypted chat apps have shaped the development of extremism in Indonesia and the Philippines in four main areas: branding, recruitment, fundraising, and the increasing role of women. For groups in the Philippines, direct communication with Daesh headquarters via Telegram facilitated their rebranding as the face of Daesh in Southeast Asia, more than just a local insurgency group. In both countries, social media facilitates vertical and horizontal recruitment, but not lone-actor terrorism. Extremist use of the internet for fundraising is still rudimentary –sophisticated financial cybercrime is still virtually non-existent. In all these aspects, women’s roles have become much more visible. For a long time, women had been barred from accessing extremist public spaces, let alone taking an active role as combatants. But through social media, women are now able to play more active roles as propagandists, recruiters, financiers, and even suicide bombers. This paper briefly discusses government responses to online extremism, noting that there have been mixed results between Indonesia and the Philippines. Indonesian authorities have undoubtedly been the more successful of the two regimes – both in terms of law enforcement and engagement with the tech sector – but its counter terrorism police now face the problem of how to judiciously use their powers in a democratic manner. The Philippines, meanwhile, is still at the starting line in terms of dealing with online extremism, with the military more accustomed to removing threats than trying to understand them.
The Evolution of the ISIS’ Language: a Quantitative Analysis of the Language of the First Year of Dabiq Magazine
2015 Vergani, M. and Bliuc, A. Article
In this article we investigate the evolution of ISIS by analysing the text contained in Dabiq, the official
ISIS’ internet magazine in English. Specifically, we used a computerized text analysis pro-gram
LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) to investigate the evolution of the language of the first
11 Issues of Dabiq. First, our analysis showed that affiliation seems to be an increasingly important
psychological motive for the group. Secondly, ISIS has been increasingly using emotions, which
are an important mobilizing factor in collective action literature, in a strategic manner. Thirdly,
ISIS language presents an increasing concern with females. Last but not least, our analysis shows
that ISIS has been increasingly using internet jargon (net-speak), which shows how the group tries
to adapt itself to the internet environment and to connect with the identities of young individuals.
The Extremist Islamist Presence In Canadian Webspace: An Empirical Study
2016 Thomson, N. MA Thesis
This paper outlines the results of a two-month study in which a series of extremist Islmnist websites - registered, hosted or given datacentre services by Canadian internet companies- were empirically observed. The results of this project are inserted into a framework which explores the issue and wrongful application of the "terrorist signifier to substance or nonstate activities, discerns between the purported use of the internet by extremist Islamist organizations for destructive means and the real use of the internet by such groups, and suggests a number of conclusions based on prior administrative responses to the extremist Islmnist use of the internet.
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.
The Fringe Insurgency: Connectivity, Covergence and Mainstreaming of the Extreme Right
2017 Davey, J., and Ebner, J. Report
This report maps the ecosystem of the burgeoning
‘new’ extreme right across Europe and the US, which is
characterised by its international outlook, technological
sophistication, and overtures to groups outside of the
traditional recruitment pool for the extreme-right. This
movement is marked by its opportunistic pragmatism,
seeing movements which hold seemingly contradictory
ideologies share a bed for the sake of achieving
common goals. It examines points of connectivity
and collaboration between disparate groups and
assesses the interplay between different extreme-right
movements, key influencers and subcultures both
online and offline.
The Funtions Of White Nationalism Online: A Content Analysis Of White Nationalist Thematic Discourse Surrounding The Eve Carson Homicide
2009 Michelle, H. S. MA Thesis
Extant literature on White Nationalism illustrates the myriad of social issues members of this racialist extremist group presently recognize as threatening the continuation of the white race and the preservation of white heritage (Swain 2002). One of these threats includes the high incidences of black-on-white violent crime within the United States. The March 2008 murder of UNC student body president Eve Carson, a 22-year-old white woman, by two young black males elicited heated discussion among White Nationalists. This paper analyzes, via content analysis, the thematic discourse surrounding Carson's homicide among White Nationalists on two popular White Nationalist websites. Functionalist theory guides this investigation in the attempt to illustrate how White Nationalists use scientific theories of criminality and government crime statistics as tools for justifying their racist beliefs. Also, this study intended to answer whether or not Carson's murder prompted an increase in online membership on the two websites used for the analysis. Moreover, this study sought to unearth thematic discourse which involved attacking whites who do not subscribe to White Nationalism; Eve Carson as either a sacred or profane symbol of whiteness; criticism of government policies, media, and the criminal justice system; evoking fear within the White Nationalist community; and calls for white solidarity and action. This analysis suggests that White Nationalists primarily used Carson's death as an opportunity to attack whites who do not subscribe to White Nationalist beliefs.
The Geneva Conventions in Modern Warfare: A Contemporary Analysis of Conflict Classification, Combatant Status, and Detainee Treatment in the War on Terror
2012 Hardwick, P. A. MA Thesis
This study is focused on three topics regarding Geneva Convention III. First, is the process of classifying conflicts either as a Common Article 2 or Common Article 3 armed conflict at the onset of hostilities. Conflict classification is critical to the implementation of the Geneva Conventions in warfare and carries with it vast implications dependent upon that decision. The criterion for this classification is presented and, by using the United States as a case study, evaluated to determine whether this aspect of the conventions remains not only applicable but adequate to states who are a party to the treaty. Determinations of the United States and the legal support backing these decisions are thus investigated.
The German Far-right on YouTube: An Analysis of User Overlap and User Comments
2020 Rauchfleisch, A. and Kaiser, J. Article
This study focuses on the formation of far-right online communities on YouTube and whether the rise of three new actors (Pegida, Identitarian movement, AfD) can also be observed with user behavior on YouTube. We map the network of far-right, conspiracy and alternative media channels in the German-language YouTube sphere, how this network evolves over time and identify the topics that users discuss. Our analysis shows that the overall common denominator within the German far-right YouTube sphere is the refugee crisis and the problems associated with it. Furthermore, we show that the community is getting denser and more centralized over time.
The Hanau Terrorist Attack: How Race Hate and Conspiracy Theories Are Fueling Global Far-Right Violence
2020 Crawford, B. and Keen, F. Article
The number of lone-actor attacks committed by far-right extremists have surged in recent years, most notably in the West where mass-casualty attacks have occurred, including the United States, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The fatal attack in February 2020 in Hanau,
Germany, revealed the perpetrator’s influences to be a combination of traditional far-right, race-based, and anti-immigration narratives, alongside several more obscure conspiracy theories. This case demonstrates the need for further research into the intersection of these ideas and the online ecosystems in which they thrive, where notions such as the “Great Replacement” theory, aspects of which were echoed in the Hanau attacker’s own manifesto, are heavily propagated. It is this overarching idea that connects seemingly disparate attacks in a global network of ideologically analogous acts of terror.
The Hidden Face of Jihadist Internet Forum Management: The Case of Ansar Al Mujahideen
2014 Torres-Soriano, M.R. Article
This article offers a descriptive analysis of the private interactions which took place on the jihadist Internet forum known as Ansar Al Mujahideen between 2008 and 2010. The analysis of the non-visible part of the forum contributes to a more robust underpinning of some current assumptions regarding the jihadist Internet infrastructure and its hierarchical dependence on, and subordination to, formal terrorist organisations and charismatic leaders. In addition, it offers a new perspective on other aspects such as the many conflicts and rivalries between the different forums, the operational constraints caused by the lack of human and material resources, and the considerable vulnerability of the forums to cyber-sabotage and infiltration attempts.
The homogeneity of right-wing populist and radical content in YouTube recommendations
2020 Röchert, D., Weitzel, M. and Ross, B. Article
The use of social media to disseminate extreme political content on the web, especially right-wing populist propaganda, is no longer a rarity in today's life. Recommendation systems of social platforms, which provide personalized filtering of content, can contribute to users forming homogeneous cocoons around themselves. This study investigates YouTube's recommendations system based on 1,663 German political videos in order to analyze the homogeneity of the related content. After examining two datasets (right-wing populist and politically neutral videos), each consisting of ten initial videos and their first and second level recommendations, we show that there is a high degree of homogeneity of right-wing populist and neutral political content in the recommendation network. These findings offer preliminary evidence on the role of YouTube recommendations in fueling the creation of ideologically like-minded information spaces.
The Hunt For The Paper Tiger: The Social Construction Of Cyberterrorism
2006 Thatcher, S. E. H. PhD Thesis
For two decades, there has been a high-profile debate on the issue of cyberterrorism. Politicians, law enforcement agents, the information security industry, other experts and the press have all made claims about the threats to and vulnerabilities in our society, who is responsible and what should be done. This is a UK study in the field of Information Systems based on interpretative philosophical assumptions. The framework for the study is provided by the concept of moral panic, propounded by Cohen (2002) and elaborated by Goode and Ben-Yehuda (1994) and Critcher (2003). Moral panic is used widely in the reference discipline of Sociology as a tool for investigating the social construction of social problems in cases where there is heightened public concern and intense media interest, closely followed by changes in legislation and social control mechanisms. This study employs moral panic as an heuristic device to assist in the investigation of the social mechanisms at work in the social construction of cyberterrorism The corpus of data for analysis comprised articles from the UK national press relevant to cyberterrorism. A grounded theory approach was used to analyse these articles in order to identify images, orientations, stereotypes and symbolisation and to examine
representational trends over time. Reflexivity in such a task is of the utmost importance, and the analytic process leading to an explanation of the social processes at work was deliberately divorced from the moral panic framework in order to guarantee rigour in the findings. The findings set out an explanation of how the concept of cyberterrorism has been constructed over two decades and compares this explanation with a framework provided by a model of moral panic. These findings are then linked to wider issues about national security, civil liberties and state control of information and communication technologies.