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.
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.|
The Janus Face of New Media Propaganda: The Case of Patani Neojihadist YouTube Warfare and Its Islamophobic Effect on Cyber-Actors
|Surfing on the Internet 2.0 revolution, Patani 2.0 has allowed Patani neojihadist militants to access new competitive spaces and create their own imagined online community by penetrating new realms of the Internet. This article discusses the use of new media militant propaganda by Patani militants and how it is Janus faced. It further examines how the Patani 2.0 social interaction enabled by social media such as YouTube leads to group cohesion among certain actors and the formation of a collective identity that is clustered around the notions of Muslim victimization and defensive jihad; and how, at the same time, it reinforces antithetical identities and fosters group identity competition, where one religious group is often pitted against another. As a result, the Janus effect of Patani neojihadist YouTube online propaganda, while it primarily seeks to radicalize, also generates a reactionary, often virulent, anti-Muslim response from the movement's critics.|
“Breivik is my Hero”: the Dystopian World of Extreme Right Youth on the Internet
|The extreme right is currently on the rise throughout Europe, making use of the Continent's economic and social problems to bolster its cause. It is also making increasing use of the Internet to spread its message and build a virtual world that it hopes will one day be reflected in reality. Until now the bulk of research into the extreme right's use of the Internet has focused on the online activities of political parties and organised groups. But the horrific acts of the Norwegian terrorist, counterjihadist and lone wolf Anders Behring Breivik, and his promotion of those acts and the ideology behind them by way of the Internet, has provoked an array of microblogs — that is, cutting-edge web presences made up of provocative short sentences, single images or video links. They idolise Breivik and reveal the potent use the extreme right is making of alternative media. The creators of these pro-Breivik counterjihadist sites are often young people well-versed in the use of the multi-faceted new media and as such they are able to create an appealing vision of their brave new world. They often work independently, producing a virtual worldview from the seclusion and relative anonymity of home computers. They are creating virtual places of congregation, community and validation for vulnerable young people in search of identity, purpose and meaning. In doing so, a new range of radical voices is being cultivated and added to current extreme right discourse. This paper will examine the extreme right's use of the Internet and the specific use made by its pro-Breivik, counterjihadist voices — the new voices of the extreme right.|
Online Radicalisation: The Net or the Netizen?
|Radicalisation has gained some unusual prominence in the academic
circles; maintaining a generic existence not only in the political sector. And with the
advent of the Information Communication Technology (ICT), radicalisation has
begun to have some virtual dimension even in the remotest of human communities.
This study seeks to mobilise a universal awareness on the collective urgency to oppose
Online Radicalisation (a radicalisation that happens through the internet) due to its
propensity to engendering conflicts. It also aims at identifying the principal cause of
online radicalisation and steer a clear course for a practical reversal in the systems of
Jihad in the Global Village: Al-Qaeda's Digital Radicalization and Recruitment Campaign
|2014||Cannata, K.||MA Thesis|
|Following America’s “War on Terror,” al-Qaeda and its affiliates became highly decentralized in terms of organizational and media operations. Though mass media outlets continue to play a significant role in drawing attention to al-Qaeda’s transnational campaign, Salafi Jihadists have recently begun to rely on new media for purposes of legitimization and promotion. The Internet serves as a suitable platform for these groups’ media objectives since it is inherently anonymous and absent of censorship. Most importantly, the Internet facilitates al-Qaeda in reaching a global audience, which is made evident by the growing amount of Salafi Jihadist media that is translated or created for English speakers. The latter change may seem paradoxical to the groups’ anti-Western sentiment, but it underscores an important shift in al-Qaeda’s recruitment strategies. The proliferation of English content promoting the Salafi Jihadist cause may imply that al- Qaeda is shifting its attention towards the Muslim diaspora in the West with the intent to recruit, radicalize, and promote acts of terror.
This study analyzed a variety of online publications that were disseminated by al- Qaeda and similar Salafi Jihadist groups. The sample included speech and video transcripts, digital magazines, and articles that were analyzed for the intent to radicalize readers through the employment of Albert Bandura’s eight mechanisms of moral disengagement. The analysis provided substantial support for the latter claim, indicating that many of the digital publications disseminated by Salafi Jihadist groups are intended to both radicalize and recruit readers through the promotion of moral disengagement.
Online Social Media in the Syria Conflict: Encompassing the Extremes and the In-Betweens
|2014||O’Callaghan, D., Prucha, N., Greene, D., Conway, M., Carthy, J. and Cunningham, P.||Article|
|The Syria conflict has been described as the most socially mediated in history, with online social media playing a particularly important role. At the same time, the everchanging landscape of the conflict leads to difficulties in applying analytical approaches taken by other studies of online political activism. Therefore, in this paper, we use an approach that does not require strong prior assumptions or the proposal of an advance hypothesis to analyze Twitter and YouTube activity of a range of protagonists to the conflict, in an attempt to reveal additional insights into the relationships between them. By means of a network representation that combines multiple data views, we uncover communities of accounts falling into four categories that broadly reflect the situation on the ground in Syria. A detailed analysis of selected communities within the antiregime categories is provided, focusing on their central actors, preferred online platforms, and activity surrounding “real world” events. Our findings indicate that social media activity in Syria is considerably more convoluted than reported in many other studies of online political activism, suggesting that alternative analytical approaches can play an important role in this type of scenario.
Iraq Information Controls Update: Analyzing Internet Filtering and Mobile Apps
|2014||Dalek, J., Senft, A., Winter, P., and Dranka A.||Report|
|We have examined two mobile applications that have received significant attention in
coverage of the Iraq insurgency. The first, FireChat, is a U.S.-developed mobile messaging platform that
facilitates off-the-grid messaging; features which make it ideal in situations where Internet access is restricted,
and that has resulted in growing user numbers in Iraq. However, it is crucial that as applications such as
FireChat become more popular in dangerous environments like Iraq, that users are informed about the security
features and limitations of using such tools. The second application, Dawn of Glad Tidings, is an Android app
developed by ISIS that has been reported to broadcast messages using the Twitter accounts of users who
install the application.
Down the (White) Rabbit Hole: The Extreme Right and Online Recommender Systems
|2014||O’Callaghan D., Greene D., Conway M., Carthy J. and Cunningham P.||VOX-Pol Publication|
|In addition to hosting user-generated video content, YouTube provides recommendation services, where sets of related and recommended videos are presented to users, based on factors such as co-visitation count and prior viewing history. This article is specifically concerned with extreme right (ER) video content, portions of which contravene hate laws and are thus illegal in certain countries, which are recommended by YouTube to some users. We develop a categorization of this content based on various schema found in a selection of academic literature on the ER, which is then used to demonstrate the political articulations of YouTube’s recommender system, particularly the narrowing of the range of content to which users are exposed and the potential impacts of this. For this purpose, we use two data sets of English and German language ER YouTube channels, along with channels suggested by YouTube’s related video service. A process is observable whereby users accessing an ER YouTube video are likely to be recommended further ER content, leading to immersion in an ideological bubble in just a few short clicks. The evidence presented in this article supports a shift of the almost exclusive focus on users as content creators and protagonists in extremist cyberspaces to also consider online platform providers as important actors in these same spaces.|
Report of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
|2014||United Nations Human Rights Council||Report|
|The unprecedented, rapid development of new communication and information technologies, such as the Internet and social media, has enabled wider dissemination of racist and xenophobic content that incites racial hatred and violence. In response, States, international and regional organizations, civil society and the private sector have undertaken a variety of legal and policy initiatives. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur examines the context, key trends and the manifestations of racism on the Internet and social media, and provides an overview of the legal and policy frameworks and the measures taken at international, regional and national levels, as well as some of the regulatory norms adopted by Internet and social network providers. He presents examples of measures taken to respond to the use of the Internet and social media to propagate racism, hatred, xenophobia and related intolerance, while highlighting the overall positive contribution of the Internet and social media as an effective tool for combating racism, discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.|
CLC – Cyberterrorism Life Cycle Model
|2014||Veerasamy, N.||PhD Thesis|
|The rise of technology has brought with it many benefits but also the potential for great dangers. In particular, Information Communication Technology (ICT) is involved in many facets of life-influencing systems, which range from power plants to airports. Terrorists are now realising the great possibilities of interfering with critical infrastructure. Remote access, reduced costs, automation, replication, speed, direct effect, varied targets and anonymity are all benefits that make attacking computers and networks in cyberspace an attractive solution. ICT could thus serve as a powerful instrument to advance political and ideological viewpoints. The ICT landscape now faces an emerging threat in the form of cyberterrorists. However, it is important not to incorrectly perceive ordinary cyber attacks as cyberterrorism. Cyberterrorism is different from cybercrime in that is has differing motives, attack goals, techniques and intended effects. The motivation for cyberterrorism largely stems from political and ideological views (religious, social activism, retributional). Cyber attacks are mainly driven by financial theft, fraud or espionage, whereas cyberterrorism aims to create publicity for a cause and leave a high impact. In this study, a Cyberterrorism Life Cycle (CLC) Model is developed in order to demonstrate the various factors that lead to the establishment and growth of cyberterrorism. The model depicts the various strategic and technical issues that are relevant to the field. Overall, this model aims to structure the dynamic interaction of the behavioural and technological factors that influence the development of cyberterrorism. Throughout the research, various factors that are influential to cyberterrorism are investigated. The research follows a systematic approach of revealing various underlying issues and thereafter compiling the holistic CLC model to depict these critical issues. Part 1 introduces cyberterrorism and provides the background to the field by discussing incidents and example groups. Initially, the concept of cyberterrorism is explored and the proposed definition tested. Part 2 looks at investigating cyberterrorism more deeply. A conceptual framework is presented that introduces the most pertinent factors in the field of cyberterrorism. Next, the traditional and innovative use of the Internet to carry out and support terrorism is explored. Then, the study addresses the determination of additional social factors using Partial Least Squares Path Modelling. In Part 3, the field of cyberterrorism is more intensely studied. Cyberterrorism is mapped to the Observe-Orient- Decide-Act (OODA) loop, which will form the basis of the CLC model. Thereafter, the most influential concepts essential to the field of cyberterrorism are applied in order to classify attacks as cyberterrorism using ontologies. Furthermore, in Part 3, countermeasures are discussed to look at ways to combat cyberterrorism. Part 4 forms the crux of the research. The CLC model is presented as a structured representation of the various influential factors relevant to cyberterrorism. Thereafter, the CLC model is simulated to show the field more dynamically. Overall, the CLC model presented in this study aims to show the interaction of the various strategic, behavioural and technical issues. The CLC model can help elucidate the reasons for attraction into extremist groups and how attacks are carried out.|