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 Path to Persuasion: An Investigation into how Al-Shabab Constructs their Brand in their Digital Magazine Gaidi Mtaani.
2017 Bulbeck, E. MA Thesis
Branding strategies are becoming increasingly important for terrorist organisations who need
to take a more purposeful approach at imbuing aspirational associations to their organisations
in order secure recruits and funds in an increasingly competitive environment. The creation
and implication of these individual brands are further amplified through the sophisticated
harnessing of ICT and digital media, where the harnessing of novel tactics and digital trends
feed into the increasing use of branding. It is a strategy being employed by numerous terrorist
groups, and a burgeoning research field is rapidly evolving to represent this development.
This study seeks to explore how al-Shabab constructs their brand in their digital magazine
Gaidi Mtaani, using Aristotle's rhetorical triad of ethos, pathos and logos. This study has the
hopes of contributing to comparison studies between Dabiq and Inspire and wider terrorist
branding, terrorism, ICT and communication studies. Understanding the differences between
how some of the most notorious terrorist organizations distinguish themselves will help
counter the rhetoric and brand associations projected through their publications. In order to
answer this research question, this study will consist of a two-part theoretical framework
situated in the concept of branding and rhetoric theory. Rhetoric theory will help this study
understand how al-Shabab communicate and constructs their brand. It will allow for the
analysis of any persuasive communications that express al-Shabab’s brand associations and
help analyse al-Shabab's divisive use of language in order to ultimately promote their brand
and ideas. The empirical data will be analysed through the use of qualitative content analysis.
The platform governance triangle: conceptualising the informal regulation of online content
2019 Gorwa, R. Article
From the new Facebook ‘Oversight Body’ for content moderation to the ‘Christchurch Call to eliminate terrorism and violent extremism online,’ a growing number of voluntary and non-binding informal governance initiatives have recently been proposed as attractive ways to rein in Facebook, Google, and other platform companies hosting user-generated content. Drawing on the literature on transnational corporate governance, this article reviews a number of informal arrangements governing online content on platforms in Europe, mapping them onto Abbott and Snidal’s (2009) ‘governance triangle’ model. I discuss three key dynamics shaping the success of informal governance arrangements: actor competencies, ‘legitimation politics,’ and inter-actor relationships of power and coercion.
The Power Of A Good Story: Narrative Persuasion in Extremist Propaganda and Videos Against Violent Extremism
2018 Frischlich, L., Rieger, D., Morten, A. and Bente, G. Article
The perceived threat of extremist online propaganda has generated a need for countermeasures applicable to large audiences. The dissemination of videos designed to counter violent extremism (CVE videos) is widely discussed. These videos are often described as “counter-narratives,” implying that narrativity is a crucial factor for their effectiveness. Experimental research testing this assumption is rare and direct comparisons of narrativity effects between propaganda and CVE videos are lacking. To fill this gap, we conducted two experiments (one in a laboratory and one online) in which we confronted German participants with different religious affiliations and from various cultural backgrounds (NStudy 1 = 338 and NStudy 2 = 155) with Islamist extremist or right-wing extremist propaganda videos and with corresponding CVE videos. The results confirmed that narrativity (a) increases persuasive processing of propaganda and CVE videos, (b) fosters amplification intentions regarding these videos, and (c) increases attraction to extremists versus counter-activists. Thus, our studies highlight the crucial role of narrativity in both extremist propaganda and video-based CVE approaches.
The Power of Online Radicalization with Peter Neumann, part 1
2014 Neumann, P. Video
An Interview with Peter Neumann by David H. Schanzer, Associate Professor of the Practice for Public Policy and Director, Triangle Center of Terrorism and Homeland Security. Originally uploaded by D Schanzer on 31 January 2014 (Part 1)
The Power of Online Radicalization with Peter Neumann, part 2
2014 Neumann, P. Video
An interview with Peter Neumann of VOX-Pol partner ICSR by David H. Schanzer, Associate Professor of the Practice for Public Policy and Director, Triangle Center of Terrorism and Homeland Security, focusing on the power of online radicalisation. Originally uploaded by D Schanzer on 31 January 2014
The Propaganda Pipeline: The ISIS Fuouaris Upload Network on Facebook
2020 Ayad, M. Report
This new investigation from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) delves into the inner workings of a pro-ISIS account network on Facebook, providing a case study of the resilient network dynamics, technological loopholes, and cross-platform activity that allowed a web of accounts to survive and flourish for over three months on a platform which purports to be a hostile environment for terrorist actors.
The Radical Online: Individual Radicalization Processes and the Role of the Internet
2014 Koehler, D. Journal
This paper examines in detail the role of the Internet in individual radicalization processes of eight German former right-wing extremists. Applying Grounded Theory methodology the qualitative interviews were analyzed in several coding and re-coding phases. The findings are integrated into the existing literature afterwards. Besides well known factors, such as more effective communication, anonymity and better networking opportunities, this study found evidence that the Internet is a major driving factor to establish and foster the development of radical contrast societies (cf. Koehler, 2015) transmitting radical and violent ideologies and translating them into political activism. As a venue for information exchange, ideological development and training, the individual radicalization process was characteristically shaped or even made possible through the Internet. This paper also shows the high value of qualitative research regarding the topic in contrast to usually employed quantitative analysis of webpage content.
The Radicalization Risks Of GPT-3 And Advanced Neural Language Models
2020 McGuffie, K. and Newhouse, A. Report
In 2020, OpenAI developed GPT-3, a neural language model that is capable of sophisticated natural language generation and completion of tasks like classification, question-answering, and summarization. While OpenAI has not opensourced the model’s code or pre-trained weights at the time of writing, it has built an API to experiment with the model’s capacity. The Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism (CTEC) evaluated the GPT-3 API for the risk of weaponization by extremists who may attempt to use GPT-3 or hypothetical unregulated models to amplify their ideologies and recruit to their communities.
The Response of, and on, Twitter to the Release of Dabiq Issue 15
2017 Grinnell, D., Macdonald, S., and Mair, D. Article
The so-called Islamic State (IS) has a sophisticated media strategy (Winter 2017), an important part of which has been its English-language online magazine Dabiq. Launched in July 2014, a total of fifteen issues of Dabiq in the two years that followed. These issues were disseminated in a variety of ways, including archive sites (Bodo and Speckhard 2017), web forums and file-sharing networks (Gambhir 2016), the dark web (Stacey 2017), and even via an attempt to sell the freely available magazines for profit through the online retailer Amazon (Masi 2015). One of the most important forums for dissemination, however, was the social media platform Twitter (Bodo and Speckhard 2017; Gambhir 2016; Cunningham, Everton and Schroeder 2015; Shaheen 2015). Released in July 2016, the theme of Dabiq issue 15 was ‘Break the Cross’. After referring to a number of attacks that had occurred in the preceding weeks, the issue’s foreword called on ‘pagan Christians’, ‘liberalist secularists’ and ‘sceptical atheists’ to ‘recognize their Creator and submit to Him’. In addition to regular features, including ‘Among the believers are men’ and ‘In the words of the enemy’ (which, in this issue’ focussed on Pope Francis), and advertisements for other IS media, issue 15 contained an 18 page feature article, also titled ‘Break the Cross’. Arguing that the Bible does not display the three hallmarks of a true divine text, the article discusses the doctrine of the Trinity, whether Jesus was crucified, and whether Paul’s New Testament teachings are authentic (repeatedly stating that Paul was a known liar). It then seeks to establish the authenticity of the Prophet Muhammad, before asking Christians rhetorically: ‘O People of the Scripture, follow the truth from your Lord, whom you claim to love. Would you follow your parents and ancestors if you knew they were walking into a fire?’ and concluding ‘Know well that our fight will continue until you are defeated and submit to the rule of your Creator, or until we achieve martyrdom. Allah has made our mission to wage war against disbelief until it ceases to exist, as he has ordered us to kill all pagans wherever they are found’. Drawing on an original dataset, in this article we examine the response to the release of Dabiq issue 15 on Twitter. We examine the response in two respects: first, the response from Twitter itself, in terms of suspension activity; and, second, the response from other users, in terms of their engagement with posts disseminating the new issue. Before presenting our findings, we begin by offering an overview of our methodology.
The Rise of Jihadist Propaganda on Social Networks
2016 Badawy, A., Ferrara, E. Article
Using a dataset of over 1.9 million messages posted on Twitter by about 25,000 ISIS members, we explore how ISIS makes use of social media to spread its propaganda and to recruit militants from the Arab world and across the globe. By distinguishing between violence-driven, theological, and sectarian content, we trace the connection between online rhetoric and key events on the ground. To the best of our knowledge, ours is one of the first studies to focus on Arabic content, while most literature focuses on English content. Our findings yield new important insights about how social media is used by radical militant groups to target the Arab-speaking world, and reveal important patterns in their propaganda efforts.
The Role of Internet Intermediaries in Tackling Terrorism online
2017 Cohen-Almagor, R. Chapter
Gatekeeping is defined as the work of third parties “who are able to disrupt misconduct by withholding their cooperation from wrongdoers.”1 Internet intermediaries need to be far more proactive as gatekeepers than they are now. Socially responsible measures can prevent the translation of violent thoughts into violent actions. Designated monitoring mechanisms can potentially prevent such unfortunate events. This Article suggests an approach that harnesses the strengths and capabilities of the public and private sectors in offering practical solutions to pressing problems. It proposes that internet intermediaries should fight stringently against terror and further argues that a responsible gatekeeping approach is good for business.

Part I defines terror. Next, Part II discusses the role of social networking sites in facilitating terror and argues that principles of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) should dictate censorship of online terror. Part III shows that the great internet companies are slowly coming to understand that with great power comes great responsibility. Part IV then argues that internet intermediaries have a role to play beyond providing a platform to anyone with something to say. Social responsibility dictates some minimal standards of gatekeeping without which mayhem and destruction will ensue unabated. The policy of “anything goes” is self-defeating and irresponsible. Internet companies are expected to show readiness to work with governments to hinder terror activities. The industry should be encouraged to be proactive.
The Role of Police Online in PVE and CVE
2018 Lenos, S. and Wouterse, L. Report
This paper is written for police wanting an overview of their online PCVE options, and is based on the RAN POL meeting on ‘The role of police online’ that took place on 1-2 March in Oslo.
The Role of Propaganda in Violent Extremism and how to Counter it
2017 Ritzmann, A. Report
The 8th Euromed Survey conducted by the European Institute of the Mediterranean touches
upon a number of important and complex issues related to violent extremism in the EuroMediterranean
region, including the question of the context and drivers through which violent
extremism can prosper. Echoing some of the results, this article looks into propaganda as a
tool of extremist ideologies and how to counter it.
The Role of the Internet in Facilitating Violent Extremism and Terrorism: Suggestions for Progressing Research
2019 Scrivens, R., Gill, P. and Conway, M. Chapter
Many researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers continue to raise questions about the role of the Internet in facilitating violent extremism and terrorism. A surge in research on this issue notwithstanding, relatively few empirically grounded analyses are yet available. This chapter provides researchers with five key suggestions for progressing knowledge on the role of the Internet in facilitating violent extremism and terrorism so that we may be better placed to determine the significance of online content and activity in the latter going forward. These five suggestions relate to (1) collecting primary data across multiple types of populations; (2) making archives of violent extremist online content accessible for use by researchers and on user-friendly platforms; (3) outreaching beyond terrorism studies to become acquainted with, for example, the Internet studies literature and engaging in interdisciplinary research with, for example, computer scientists; (4) including former extremists in research projects, either as study participants or project collaborators; and (5) drawing connections between the on- and offline worlds of violent extremists.
The Role of the Internet in Facilitating Violent Extremism: Insights from Former Right-Wing Extremists
2020 Gaudette, T., Scrivens, R. and Venkatesh, V. Article
While a growing body of evidence suggests that the Internet is a key facilitator of violent extremism, research in this area has rarely incorporated former extremists’ experiences with the Internet when they were involved in violent extremism. To address this gap, in-depth interviews were conducted with ten Canadian former right-wing extremists who were involved in violent racist skinhead groups, with interview questions provided by thirty Canadian law enforcement officials and ten community activists. Participants were asked about their use of the Internet and the connection between their on- and offline worlds during their involvement in the violent right-wing extremist movement. Overall, our study findings highlight the interplay between the Internet and violent extremism as well as the interactions between the on- and offline worlds of violent extremists. We conclude with a discussion of study limitations and avenues for future research.
The Roles of ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Media Tools and Technologies in the Facilitation of Violent Extremism and Terrorism
2019 Scrivens, R. and Conway, M. Chapter
The media and communication strategies of two particular ideologies are focused on herein: right-wing extremists and violent jihadis – albeit an array of others is referred to also (e.g. nationalist-separatists such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and violent Islamists such as Hezbollah). Violent jihadists are inspired by Sunni Islamist-Salafism and seek to establish an Islamist society governed by their version of Islamic or Sharia law imposed by violence (Moghadam, 2008). Right-wing extremists may also subscribe to some radical interpretation of religion, but unlike those inspired by radical Islam, many extreme right adherents are not inspired by religious beliefs per se. Instead, what binds these actors is a racially, ethnically, and sexually defined nationalism, which is typically framed in terms of white power and grounded in xenophobic and exclusionary understandings of the perceived threats posed by such groups as non-whites, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, homosexuals, and feminists. Here the state is perceived as an illegitimate power serving the interests of all but the white man and, as such, right-wing extremists are willing to assume both an offensive and defensive stance in the interests of “preserving” their heritage and their “homeland” (Perry & Scrivens, 2016). With regard to the chapter’s structuring, the following sections are ordered chronologically, treating, in turn, early low-tech communication methods or what we term ‘pre-media,’ followed by other relatively low-tech tools, such as print and photocopying. The high-tech tools reviewed are film, radio, and television, followed by the Internet, especially social media.
The Semiotic Construction of Identities in Hypermedia Environments: The Analysis of Online Communication of the Estonian Extreme Right
2016 Madisson, M. PhD Thesis
My dissertation consists of six articles and the framing chapter. The framing
chapter begins with introducing the problem of online identity-creation and lays
bare the tendency of the formation of vernacular webs, which are opposed to
dominant media and state authorities. I point out the major reasons as to why it
is relevant, and highly topical, to study the extreme right grass-roots communities
and their prevalent ways of meaning-making. I also outline the main characteristics
that need to be present for defining some content as being extreme
right. The next sub-chapter gives a brief overview of the research, which has
concentrated on the extreme right communication and identity-creation. I highlight
the works of the critical discourse analysis, cultural studies and semiotics
and bring focus on certain papers that have concentrated on the specifics of the
extreme right online communication. Then I summarize the main purposes and
research emphases of my dissertation. I also explicate the reasons as to why it is
fruitful to apply the frameworks of cultural semiotics for comprehending the
processes of identity-creation of the contemporary extreme right. The next subchapter
introduces the sources that have been analyzed in my papers. I explain
why I concentrated on the particular web pages and how the style and the content
of the observed sources transformed during the years of my studies. Then I
elucidate the reasons why I decided to use the non-participatory covert observation
(as one of my research methods) and also unveil certain ethical dilemmas,
which accompany my research. Finally, I present short summaries of the
papers of this dissertation and envisage some possible future directions for my
research.
The Shift from Consumers to Prosumers: Susceptibility of Young Adults to Radicalization
2020 Sugihartati, R., Suyanto, B. and Sirry, M. Article
This article examines the radicalization of young adults in relation to internet access and the social media content produced and managed by radical groups in Indonesia. Some of the research problems that become the major concern of this article were how young people respond to the internet and social media that provide radical content, how they find out about and access the content, what their purposes are for accessing radical content, and what they do with the radical content. The data discussed in this article were obtained from surveys and interviews with 700 students from seven state universities in Indonesia who were allegedly exposed to radicalism, according to the National Agency for Combating Terrorism (BNPT). The state universities that became research locations were the University of Indonesia (UI), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Bogor Agriculture University (IPB), Diponegoro University (Undip), the Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology (ITS), Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), and the University of Brawijaya (UB). This study revealed that in addition to accessing and consuming various radical content, some students also acted as prosumers. That is, they did not only read, but also produced information related to radicalization, and then recirculated it via social media.
The Social Structure of Extremist Websites
2020 Bouchard, M., Davies, G., Frank, R., Wu, E. and Joffres, K. Chapter
In this study, we select the official websites of four known extremist groups and map the networks of hyperlinked websites forming a virtual community around them. The networks are constructed using a custom-built webcrawler (TENE: Terrorism and Extremism Network Extractor) that searches the HTML of a website for all the hyperlinks inserted directing to other websites (Bouchard et al., 2014). Following all of these hyperlinks out of the initial website of interest produces the network of websites forming a community that is more or less cohesive, more or less extensive, and more or less devoted to the same cause (Bouchard and Westlake, 2016; Westlake and Bouchard, 2016). The extent to which the official website of a group contains many hyperlinks towards external websites may be an indicator of a more active community, and it may be indicative of a more active social movement.
The Spirit of Terrorism in Islamic State Media
2016 Richards, I. Article
In June 2014 the organisation known as ‘Islamic State’ (IS) announced the establishment of a 680km Syrian and Iraqi Caliphate. Since this time, it has exercised large scale massacres of Middle Eastern civilians, executed foreign prisoners, and forced dissenters into sexual and economic slavery (Lister, 2014: 17). To sustain its operational strength and acquisition of territory, the organisation replenishes its expendable armed forces by attracting foreign fighters using propaganda via online communications. Around 22,000 foreign fighters are currently estimated to have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight for IS (Stern, 2015: 68), and this is number likely to increase in the immediate future. It is also increasingly noted that through online media, IS encourages returned foreign fighters and ‘homegrown’ sympathisers in countries outside of Iraq and Syria to execute attacks on civilian populations. The internationalisation of the threat posed by IS became starkly apparent in 2015 following IS-inspired and in some cases IS-directed attacks on countries including Tunisia, Turkey, Lebanon, France and Indonesia.