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 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.


Full Listing

Media And Information Literacy: Reinforcing Human Rights, Countering Radicalization And Extremism
2016 Singh, J., Kerr, P. and Hamburger, E. Report
2016 is the first year of the implementation of the sustainable development goals. A renewed emphasis on a Human Rights-Based Approach to all forms of development is apt and timely. While migration and peace building as development challenges are not new to humankind, the world is faced with ongoing wars and conflicts as well as new forms of violent extremism triggering levels of migration, that rival only the one that occurred during the Second World War. As a negative and undesirable consequence, all over the world, there has been a sudden rise in incidents of individuals using hate speech against migrants, forced migration and minority communities or social groups, blaming them for their nations’ struggles. The words used in politics, in the news, in social media, in research studies, national reports and general literature or debate about these human phenomena have consequences. History has shown that rhetorical excesses and unbalanced or biased historical accounts of certain events in relation to any ethnic group, place, culture or religion can give rise to a climate of prejudice, discrimination, and violence. It is these prejudices, discrimination and violence that often compromise individual rights or equal rights to all – the right to cultural and religious expressions, the right to security and peace, the right to freedom of expression, the right to education, the right to information, the right to associate or connect et al. Here, Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” is breached. It is this reasoning and conscience that the acquisition of media and information literacy (MIL) competencies can stir in all peoples. Furthermore, the ideological beliefs and dogmas that we firmly hold emanate from our socialization. Socialization is embedded in information and communication and increasingly taking place through technological platforms, media and all forms of learning environments. When taken together and coupled with the incidents of the use of social media by extremist and violent organizations to radicalize and recruit especially young minds, the relevance of MIL to enable citizens to challenge their own beliefs effectively and critically engage in these topics, and thus the integration of MIL in formal, non-formal and informal settings becomes more urgent. A rights-based approach to media and information literacy and to sustainable development – including countering hate, radicalization and violent extremism - can play a crucial role in perceptions of the “other” by encouraging reporting, research and analysis as well as the design and implementation of development interventions that are objective, evidence-based, inclusive, reliable, ethical and accurate, and by encouraging individuals to take sound actions based on their rights and the rights of others.
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.
Global Jihad and International Media Use
2020 Sirgy, M.J., Estes, R.J. and Rahtz, D.R. Chapter
Globalization and international media are potent contributors to the rise of the Islamist global jihad. Widespread digital communication technologies that connect people all over the world are a substantial component of globalization. Over the past three decades, “virtual jihad” has emerged as a potent disseminator of radical religious-political ideologies, instilling fear and fostering instability worldwide. Western and global media, while often misrepresenting Islam and Muslims, have played a significant role in disseminating jihadist ideologies. The involvement of global jihadists (mujāhidīn) across myriad media outlets and platforms has allowed them to promote their agenda around the world. Using the Internet and media outlets, global jihadists are able to attract and recruit people to their ranks in an accelerated manner. Jihadists have engaged in media activities that have empowered and expanded the global jihad movement, even in the face of increased mitigation efforts.
Packaging Inspiration: Al Qaeda’s Digital Magazine in the Self-Radicalization Process
2013 Sivek, S.C. Article
Al Qaeda is today a fragmented organization, and its strategic communication efforts now focus largely on recruiting individuals in the West to carry out “individual jihad” in their home countries. One Al Qaeda–affiliated publication, Inspire, represents an unusual use of the digital magazine format and content for recruitment. This study examines the content and design of Inspire to determine how the magazine may advance the self-radicalization that it seeks to induce in its readers. This analysis finds that the magazine weaves together jihadist ideology, a narrow interpretation of Islam, and appropriations of Western popular culture to maximize the publication’s potential for motivating readers toward violence.
Empirical Assessment of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Taliban Propaganda
2015 Skillicorn, D.B. Article
The jihadist groups AQAP, ISIS, and the Taliban have all produced glossy English magazines designed to influence Western sympathizers. We examine these magazines empirically with respect to models of the intensity of informative, imaginative, deceptive, jihadist, and gamification language. This allows their success to be estimated and their similarities and differences to be exposed. We also develop and validate an empirical model of propaganda; according to this model Dabiq, ISIS's magazine ranks highest of the three.
The Charlie Hebdo Attacks on Twitter: A Comparative Analysis of a Political Controversy in English and French
2017 Smyrnaios, N., Ratinaud, P. Article
In this article, we propose an original method combining large-scale network and lexicometric analysis to link identifiable communities of Twitter users with the main discursive themes they used in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, France in 2015. We used this method to compare tweets and user networks in French and in English. We observed that the majority of the users who tweeted about Charlie Hebdo were people without any particular affiliation, who were shocked by the attacks and immediately expressed themselves through emotionally charged messages. But rather quickly their proportion decreased and they participated less in politically polarizing discussions. On the other hand, we found that smaller, highly politicized, and polarized groups had similar attitudes toward the events: they were less engaged immediately after the attacks in emotional expression of sympathy and shock, but they participated vividly in the following days in polemical discussions or engaged themes. Other findings include the central position of mainstream media and the existence of groups of users that aggregated on the basis of nationality. More generally, our results show clearly that even the most dramatic events such as a terrorist attack with innocent victims do not produce homogeneous reactions online. Rather, political engagement and cultural dispositions are keys to understand different attitudes on Twitter.
Terrorist Communications: Are Facebook, Twitter, and Google Responsible for the Islamic State’s Actions?
2017 Softness, N. Article
Four of the world’s largest Internet companies pledged to monitor, combat, and prevent terrorists from using their social media platforms to conduct operations in May 2016. One month later, Twitter, Facebook, and Google were sued for deaths caused by the Islamic State in 2015, and their alleged allowance and facilitation of terrorist communication. A growing demand for responsible and accountable online governance calls into question the global norms of cybersecurity and jurisdiction, and the very definition of terrorism. This paper explores the legislative precedent for countering terrorist communications, including the evolution of the First Amendment, communications and information law, and limitations governed by public opinion. Using legal trajectories to analyze aspects of monitoring and censorship in both past and current counterterrorism strategies, evidence of the future cyber landscape becomes clear. Cyber norms will imminently and inevitably depend on public-private partnerships, with liability split between the government and the private companies that control the majority of the world’s information flows. It is imperative for actors to identify each sector’s competing and corollary priorities, as well as their legal and normative restrictions, to form partnerships that can survive the unpredictable court of public opinion and provide sustainable counterterrorism solutions.
The Key Lessons Learned from the Use of the Internet by Jihadist Groups
2017 Soriano, M. Report
This work analyzes some of the key lessons learned from the use of the Internet by jihadist groups over the last twenty years: 1) Online activism can be a substitute for commitment to armed jihad. 3) Terrorists are "early adopters" of new technologies, to enjoy spaces of impunity. 4) The investigation of terrorist activities on the Internet becomes increasingly difficult as a result of the adoption of measures of self-protection 5). The terrorist message on the Internet has the capacity to transcend the intentions of its creators.
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.

Fascists among us: Online Hate and the Christchurch Massacre
2019 Sparrow, J. Book
The massacre of more than fifty worshippers at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, shocked the world. The murders were not random. They expressed a particular ideology, one that the alleged perpetrator described as ‘fascism’. But what does fascism mean today — and what kind of threat does it pose? Jeff Sparrow traces the history of the far right, showing how fascists have adapted to the new politics of the twenty-first century. Burgeoning in dark places online, contemporary fascism exults in violence and picks its targets strategically. Today, it is Muslims; tomorrow, it will be Jews or gays or Asians. With imitative massacres already occurring around the world, Christchurch must be a wake-up call. This book makes a compelling, urgent case for a new response to an old menace.
Mounting a Facebook Brand Awareness and Safety Ad Campaign to Break the ISIS Brand in Iraq
2018 Speckhard, A., Shajkovci, A., Wooster, C., and Izadi, Neima Article
This article reports on the International Center for Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE’s) most recent Facebook ad
campaign aimed at raising awareness about the realities of living under ISIS and protecting vulnerable potential
recruits from considering joining. During the course of 24 days in December of 2017, ICSVE researchers mounted
the campaign on Facebook using a counter-narrative video produced by ICSVE. The Facebook ad campaign
targeted Iraq, where Facebook is the most widely used social media platform, with ISIS also driving powerful
recruiting campaigns on Facebook and enticing youth into joining. The results were promising in terms of driving
engagement with our counternarrative video materials, leading close to 1.7 million views and hundreds of specific
comments related to both our video content and ISIS in general. In terms of policy implications, in addition to
raising awareness about the dangers of joining ISIS and our Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Project, the
campaign served as an important platform to challenge extremist narratives as well as channel doubt, frustration,
and anger into positive exchange of ideas and participation.
Assessing Perceived Credibility Of Websites In A Terrorism Context
2009 Spinks, B.T. PhD Thesis
The purpose of the study was to contribute to the overall understanding of terrorist organizations' use of the Internet and to increase researchers' knowledge of Web site effectiveness. The methodological approach was the evaluation of the perceived credibility of Web sites based on existing criteria derived from information users. The Web sites of four terrorist organizations were assessed: two secular nationalist groups, the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers); and two religious nationalist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. The findings of this analysis showed differences in perceived credibility factors among terrorist organizations' Web sites and positive levels of perceived credibility for the Web sites. These findings indicate the potential for positive impressions of the organizations' Web sites by information users, which would help empower the organizations with the capacity to reach their objectives. By using Web sites, these groups can effectively increase their support base through disseminating information, improving recruiting, and attracting monetary contributions, and can establish themselves as legitimate components of society.
Status quo und Massnahmen zu rassistischer Hassrede im Internet: Übersicht und Empfehlungen
2020 Stahel, L. Report
Rassistische Hassrede im Internet: Wie soll die Schweiz in Zukunft damit umgehen? Der vorliegende Bericht, welchen die Fachstelle für Rassismusbekämpfung (FRB) in Auftrag gegeben hat, liefert dazu einen Beitrag. Er beinhaltet eine kritische Zusammenfassung der Datenlage, einen Einblick in die digitale Umwelt und egünstigenden Kommunikationsbedingungen rassistischer Online-Hassrede sowie einen Überblick zu bestehenden Gegenmassnahmen in der Schweiz und im Ausland. Schliesslich werden die Herausforderungen und Anliegen von Schweizer Verwaltungsstellen, Beratungsstellen und privaten Organisationen identifiziert und Handlungsempfehlungen für die StahelSchweiz abgegeben.
Terror in Cyberspace Terrorists Will Exploit and Widen the Gap Between Governing Structures and the Public
2002 Stanton, J.J. Journal
There is an inverse relationship between public access to the Internet and the inability of governments and institutions to control information flow and hence state allegiance, ideology, public opinion, and policy formulation. Increase in public access to the Internet results in an equivalent decrease in government and institutional power. Indeed, after September 11, 2001, Internet traffic statistics show that many millions of Americans have connected to alternative news sources outside the continental United States. The information they consume can be and often is contrary to U.S. government statements and U.S. mainstream media reporting. Recognizing this, terrorists will coordinate their assaults with an adroit use of cyberspace for the purpose of manipulating perceptions, opinion, and the political and socioeconomic direction of many nation-states.
Tweeting Terror: An Analysis of the Norwegian Twitter-sphere during and in the Aftermath of the 22 July 2011 Terrorist Attack
2018 Steensen S. Chapter
This chapter analyses the Norwegian Twitter-sphere during and in the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Norway on 22 July 2011. Based on a collection of 2.2 million tweets representing the Twitter-sphere during the period 20 July–28 August 2011, the chapter seeks answers to how the micro-blogging services aided in creating situation awareness (SA) related to the emergency event, what role hashtags played in that process and who the dominant crisis communicators were. The chapter is framed by theories and previous research on SA and social media use in the context of emergency events. The findings reveal that Twitter was important in establishing SA both during and in the aftermath of the terrorist attack, that hashtags were of limited value in this process during the critical phase, and that unexpected actors became key communicators.
Book edited by Harald Hornmoen and Klas Backholm
Social Media and Situation Awareness during Terrorist Attacks: Recommendations for Crisis Communication
2018 Steensen S., Frey E., Hornmoen H., Ottosen R., Konow-Lund T. M., Chapter
This chapter summarises the findings of a case study on social media activity during the 22 July 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway. Based on these findings and on theories and previous research on the role of social media in situation awareness (SA) configuration during crisis situations, the chapter offers seven recommendations for key communicators in official crisis management and response institutions, journalistic institutions, NGOs and others: (1) acknowledge social media as important and master monitoring and management of features across social media; (2) synchronise communication and establish a standard operating procedure (SOP); (3) establish and make known a joint social media emergency account; (4) participate, interact and take the lead; (5) be aware of non-hashtagged content; (6) implement verification tools and practices and (7) engage with and learn from celebrities. Book edited by Harald Hornmoen and Klas Backholm
Jihadismus und Internet: Eine deutsche Perspektive
2012 Steinberg, G. Article
Deutsche Internetaktivisten sind seit 2005 ein integraler Teil der internationalen jihadistischen Szene geworden, die sich seitdem in einem Prozess stetigen Wandels befindet. Noch nie war es so einfach wie heute, über das Netz und netzbasierte neue soziale Medien auf alle Arten jihadistischer Propaganda zuzugreifen. Die Autoren dieser Sammelstudie befassen sich in erster Linie mit der Situation in der Diaspora – vor allem jener in Deutschland – und suchen das Verhältnis zwischen jihadistischer Aktivität in der virtuellen und in der physischen Realität zu beleuchten und zu klären. Ihre wichtigste Schlussfolgerung lautet: Virtuelle und physische Realität sind auch in der jihadistischen Bewegung eng miteinander verbunden. Internetpropaganda ist gerade dort außerordentlich wirksam, wo sie von aktiven jihadistischen Gruppierungen betrieben wird. Gelingt es, wichtige Aktivisten und Knotenpunkte ihrer Webtätigkeit auszuschalten, können ihre Gegner die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit der Terroristen stark beeinträchtigen. Darüber hinaus lebt das jihadistische Internet vom Vertrauen der Aktivisten untereinander. Gelingt es den Sicherheitsbehörden, durch Infiltration der Webpräsenzen Misstrauen zu säen, lässt die Attraktivität des jihadistischen Netzes schnell nach.
‘Bomb-Making for Beginners’: Inside al Al-Qaeda E-Learning Course
2013 Stenersen, A. Journal
This study explores how terrorists utilise the Internet to learn bomb-making skills. Unlike previous studies, it does not focus on assessing the quality of online bomb recipes. Rather, it discusses the efforts being made by on-line jihadists to help others learn by providing so-called “e-learning courses.” As of today, such courses have few active participants yet they tend to attract large interest – indicating that there is a demand among Al-Qaeda’s online sympathisers for developing this concept further.
The Internet: A Virtual Training Camp?
2008 Stenersen, A. Journal
This study aims to investigate how Al Qaeda uses the Internet for military training and preparation. What kind of training material is available on jihadi webpages, who produces it, and for what purpose? The article argues that in spite of a vast amount of training-related literature online, there have been few organized efforts by Al Qaeda to train their followers by way of the Internet. The Internet is per today not a “virtual training camp” organized from above, but rather a resource bank maintained and accessed largely by self-radicalized sympathizers.
The Devil's Long Tail: Religious and Other Radicals in the Internet Marketplace
2014 Stevens, D. and O’Hara, K. Book
This book is concerned with the links or relationships between religious radicalism, violent extremism and the Internet.