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 email@example.com 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.
The Stream: Are the Roots of Radicalisation Online?
Jihad, Syria, and Social Media; How Foreign Fighters Have Documented Their War
'Weighing the Role of the Internet in Past, Present, and Future Terrorism' Dr Maura Conway
|VOX-Pol Coordinator Dr Maura Conway discussing the role of the Internet in the past, the present & the future of terrorism, at the 2014 Symposium of Cyber Terrorism Project at Swansea University.|
Live-Tweeting Terror: A Rhetorical Analysis of @HSMPress_ Twitter Updates During the 2013 Nairobi Hostage Crisis
|With the advent of social media, terrorist organisations have seized an unprecedented opportunity to engage wider audiences with their ideologies and actions. This study aims to develop an understanding of this tactic by analysing its use in the 2013 Westgate Mall hostage crisis. During that event, the Twitter account @HSMPress_ provided continuous updates supporting the actions of the terrorist organisation Al- Shabaab. Situating the event within a framework of Jürgen Habermas’s theories of the Public Sphere and Andrew Mack’s theories of asymmetric warfare, this paper employs Kenneth Burke’s dramatistic pentad to perform a rhetorical analysis of the tweets using both artistic and inartistic factors. It does so in order to understand how they engaged the audience of the terrorist event, emphasising the performative nature of the text in accordance with behaviourist objectives. The results of this analysis will demonstrate how terrorist groups may use platforms like Twitter to achieve a strategic political goal by shifting viewer perspectives, with significant implications for future policy governing social media content and censorship.|
Why the Internet is Not Increasing Terrorism
|Policymakers and scholars fear that the Internet has increased the ability of transnational terrorists, like al Qaeda, to attack targets in the West, even in the face of increased policing and military efforts. Although access to the Internet has increased across the globe, there has been no corresponding increase in completed transnational terrorist attacks. This analysis examines the causal logics—which have led to the conventional wisdom—and demonstrates both theoretically and empirically that the Internet is not a force multiplier for transnational terrorist organizations. Far from being at a disadvantage on the Internet, state security organs actually gain at least as much utility from the Internet as terrorist groups do, meaning that at worst the Internet leaves the state in the same position vis-a`-vis terrorist campaigns as it was prior to the Internet.|
Sub-Saharan African Terrorist Groups’ Use of the Internet
|2014||Bertram, S. and Ellison, K.||Journal|
|This article presents the results of a study which measured the web presence of terrorist groups active in Sub Saharan Africa. It also explores the relationship between web technology availability and adoption by terrorist groups and looks at how differentiating between web publishing technologies used by terrorist groups can further develop the study of terrorist cultures and communities online.|
Voices of the ‘Caucasus Emirate’: Mapping and Analyzing North Caucasus Insurgency Websites
|2014||Campana, A. and Ducol, B.||Journal|
|This article looks at Internet use by insurgent groups in the North Caucasus in the context of a regional diffusion of violence. Using a mixed methods research design that combines hyperlink network analysis and micro-discourse analysis, it examines the online characteristics of the Caucasus Emirate and the main frames conveyed by the websites affiliated with the Emirate. It demonstrates the existence of a network of cross-referencing websites that, collectively, articulate the Emirate’s political agenda online and allow for the dissemination of frames across the Web. It also shows that while jihadism provides a cultural resource that fosters a global sense of community, the jihadization of discourse does not eradicate local references as the local dynamics of the conflict have a strong impact on online communicative strategies. Finally, although based on a specific case study, this article highlights the potential of a mixed methods research design as applied to an analysis of virtual insurgent networks.|
#Greenbirds: Measuring Importance and Influence in Syrian Foreign Fighter Networks
|2014||Carter, J.A., Maher, S. and Neumann, P.R.||Report|
|This is the first in a series of papers that draws on information from this database. It examines the question of how foreign fighters in Syria receive information about the conflict and who inspires them.|
The Web is a Terrorist’s Command-and-Control Network of Choice
|People do not want social media platforms to facilitate murder, writes Robert Hannigan|
Interpersonal Trust on Jihadi Internet Forums
|This chapter explores the effects of the trust problem on jihadi internet discussion forums. The scarcity of non-verbal cues in digital communication facilitates deceptive mimicry, which undermines the inter- personal trust required for sensitive transactions. Open-source data from Arabic-language jihadi forums between 2006 and 2011 indicate that distrust there was high and direct recruitment rare. General trust also declined over time as policing of the forums increased. As of 2014, forums are still in use, but primarily for low-stake activities such as propaganda-sharing and ideological debate, not recruiting or operational coordination. Confidence in the authenticity of propaganda remained relatively high, due to vetting institutions and hard-to-fake video formats. A modicum of interpersonal trust also remained, thanks to reputation systems and a few relatively reliable signs of trustworthiness involving time expenditure. The trust problem is an Achilles heel for high-risk activists online, including pro-democracy activists in authoritarian settings.|
Jihad Trending: A Comprehensive Analysis of Online Extremism and How to Counter It
|2014||Hussain, G. and Saltman, E.M.||Report|
|This report hopes to contribute to developing research in the ever-evolving arena of radicalisation with a particular focus on the role of the Internet. Our aim is to provide a resource for both policy makers and practitioners that offers an in-depth insight into the means by which extremists use online tools to propagandise and recruit. While previous research has focussed on specific aspects of this phenomenon, this report aims to provide a comprehensive analysis encompassing both qualitative and quantitative methods. It is also unique in that it offers a detailed and practical guide on how to turn the tide against extremists online and reclaim the Internet. Our research would not have been possible without the cooperation and assistance of colleagues, experts, mentors and focus group participants. In particular, we would like to thank our research assistants Ariana Skipp and Aimee Gentry who diligently collected data transcribed interviews and proofread drafts. We would also like to thank Jonathan Russell, Usama Hasan, Faisal Ghazi, Verity Harding, Florian Maganza and Benoit Tabaka for their support, assistance and guidance.|
Opinion No. 2014-3 on Article 9 of the Bill on Scaling Up Counter-Terrorism Provisions
|2014||French Digital Council||Report|
|The French Digital Council has been given a mandate to examine Article 9 of the bill on scaling up
counter-terrorism provisions. These provisions amend Article 6 of the Act of 21 June 2004 on confidence
in the digital economy (LCEN) by providing for the administration to block websites containing speech
and/or images constituting incitement to terrorism or in defence of terrorism. They also extend the scope
of the notification tools that technical service providers are bound to use.
The French Digital Council has held fifteen interviews with terrorism experts (sociologists, journalists and
association representatives), specialised lawyers and judges, civil society representatives, intelligence
agency members and digital professionals (full list available in the appendix) to be able to deliver as fully
informed an opinion as possible.
Avis n°2014-3 sur l’article 9 du Projet de loi Renforçant les Dispositions Relatives à la Lutte Contre le Terrorisme
|2014||Conseil national du numérique||Report|
|Le Conseil national du numérique a été saisi le 25 juin 2014 de l’article 9 du projet de loi renforçant les
dispositions relatives à la lutte contre le terrorisme. Ces dispositions modifient l’article 6 de la loi du 21
juin 2004 pour la confiance dans l’économie numérique (LCEN) en prévoyant le blocage administratif des
sites diffusant des propos ou images provoquant à la commission d’actes terroristes ou en faisant
l’apologie. Elles élargissent également le champ des outils de notification imposés aux prestataires
Afin de rendre un avis le plus éclairé possible dans le court délai imparti, le Conseil a procédé à une
quinzaine d’auditions, réunissant des experts du terrorisme (sociologues, journalistes, représentants
d’associations), de magistrats et avocats spécialisés, des représentants de la société civile, des
membres des services de renseignement et des professionnels du numérique (liste complète disponible
Parere n. 2014-3 sull’articolo 9 del progetto di legge mirante al rafforzamento delle disposizioni relative alla lotta contro il terrorismo
|2014||Consiglio nazionale per il digitale||Report|
|Il Consiglio nazionale per il digitale è stato interpellato riguardo all’articolo 9 del progetto di legge
mirante a rafforzare le disposizioni relative alla lotta contro il terrorismo. Tali disposizioni modificano
l’articolo 6 della Legge del 21 giugno 2004 intesa a promuovere la fiducia nell’economia digitale (LCEN),
prevedendo il blocco da parte dell’autorità amministrativa dei siti responsabili della diffusione di frasi o
immagini che incitano a commettere atti di terrorismo o ne fanno l’apologia. Esse ampliano altresì il
campo degli strumenti di notifica imposti ai provider.
Nell’intento di esprimere un parere il più possibile informato, il Consiglio nazionale per il digitale ha
proceduto ad una quindicina di audizioni che hanno riunito esperti di terrorismo (sociologi, giornalisti,
rappresentanti di associazioni), magistrati e avvocati specializzati nel settore, rappresentanti della
società civile, membri dei servizi di informazione e professionisti dell’ambito digitale (l’elenco completo è
disponibile in allegato).
Preliminary Analytical Considerations In Designing A Terrorism And Extremism Online Network Extractor
|2014||Bouchard, M., Joffres, K. and Frank, R.||Article|
|It is now widely understood that extremists use the Internet in attempts to accomplish many of their objectives. In this chapter we present a web-crawler called the Terrorism and Extremism Network Extractor (TENE), designed to gather information about extremist activities on the Internet. In particular, this chapter will focus on how TENE may help differentiate terrorist websites from anti-terrorist websites by analyzing the context around the use of predetermined keywords found within the text of the webpage. We illustrate our strategy through a content analysis of four types of web-sites. One is a popular white supremacist website, another is a jihadist website, the third one is a terrorism-related news website, and the last one is an official counterterrorist website. To explore differences between these websites, the presence of, and context around 33 keywords was examined on both websites. It was found that certain words appear more often on one type of website than the other, and this may potentially serve as a good method for differentiating between terrorist websites and ones that simply refer to terrorist activities. For example, words such as “terrorist,” “security,” “mission,” “intelligence,” and “report,” all appeared with much greater frequency on the counterterrorist website than the white supremacist or the jihadist websites. In addition, the white supremacist and the jihadist websites used words such as “destroy,” “kill,” and “attack” in a specific context: not to describe their activities or their members, but to portray themselves as victims. The future developments of TENE are discussed.|
Tweeting the Jihad: Social Media Networks of Western Foreign Fighters in Syria and Iraq
|Social media have played an essential role in the jihadists’ operational strategy in Syria
and Iraq, and beyond. Twitter in particular has been used to drive communications over
other social media platforms. Twitter streams from the insurgency may give the illusion
of authenticity, as a spontaneous activity of a generation accustomed to using their
cell phones for self-publication, but to what extent is access and content controlled?
Over a period of three months, from January through March 2014, information was
collected from the Twitter accounts of 59 Western-origin fighters known to be in Syria.
Using a snowball method, the 59 starter accounts were used to collect data about the
most popular accounts in the network-at-large. Social network analysis on the data
collated about Twitter users in the Western Syria-based fighters points to the controlling
role played by feeder accounts belonging to terrorist organizations in the insurgency
zone, and by Europe-based organizational accounts associated with the banned British
organization, Al Muhajiroun, and in particular the London-based preacher, Anjem
Neojihadist Visual Politics: Comparing YouTube Videos of North Caucasus and Uyghur Militants
|2014||Vergani, M. and Zuev, D.||Journal|
Neo-Jihadist Prosumers and Al Qaeda Single Narrative: The Case Study of Giuliano Delnevo
|Scholars in the field of terrorism and violent extremism often refer to the so-called Al
Qaeda single narrative. This article suggests that the Internet challenges the existence of
a “single narrative,” by arguing that neo-jihadist prosumers may reinterpret Al Qaeda’s
narrative and create hybrid symbols and identities. The article discusses the case study of
an Italian neo-jihadist allegedly killed in Syria, Giuliano Delnevo, presenting research
on his YouTube and Facebook production. Delnevo’s narrative, which emerges from
the diverse messages circulating on the Internet, recasts the Al Qaeda narrative by
hybridizing it with other cultural backgrounds and political symbols.
Online Radicalization to Violent Extremism
|2014||US Department of Justice||Article|
|Using a combination of traditional websites, mainstream social media platforms, YouTube, and other online services, extremists broadcast their views, provoke negative sentiment toward enemies, incite people to violence, glorify martyrs, create virtual communities with like-minded individuals, provide religious or legal justifications for violent actions, and communicate individually with new recruits to groom them for violent activities. This paper proposes the implementation of community policing principles in the development of strategies for countering online extremist propaganda. One of the key components of community policing is citizen engagement. This involves identifying ways the community can become involved in addressing various types of crime and disorder, including online appeals by violent extremists. Community members surf the Internet and participate on social media, where they may encounter extremist messages, appeals, and strategies. They can become sources of information about what is occurring on the Internet regarding how violent extremists are using the Internet. Police agencies should make an effort, through agency websites and social media, to encourage citizens to report extremist activity on the Internet.|
The Internet in The Paris Riots of 2005
|The riots in the suburbs of Paris (and across the country) in October and November 2005 lasted for about three weeks. The degree of violence and anger of the riots astonished an entire world. While the mainstream media, both in France and internationally, covered these events ‘as usual,’ some became aware that the internet seemed to play a role in the youths’ involvement and engagement in the events. This paper attempts to answer some important questions regarding the role of the internet: Why and how was it important? Did the web-only-publications, such as online news-sites and blogs, have any function for the people participating in the riots, or for those who were trying to put an end to them? What is more generally the potential of the internet, outside of the established media that also operate online, when ‘hot social issues’ catch fire and become explosive happenings.|