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
A Spatial Analysis Of Boko Haram And Al-Shabaab References In Social Media In Sub-Saharan Africa
2014 Rodriguez Jr., R.M. MA Thesis
This thesis describes the role that social media can play in showing how a terrorist organization can impact people’s conversation via Twitter. The two groups that this thesis focusses on are Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab. We present a new approach to how we can look into how terrorist organization can be analyzed and see what kind of impacts they may have over different cultures. The process used in researching and writing this thesis is we conducted literature search of the social media phenomenon and what social media can provide. We look to build on research by using the social media phenomenon to find what types of impacts terrorist organizations may have over cultures along with seeing how a terrorist event can have an impact over people on social media. This thesis hopes to expand on previous research on the academic uses for social media, as well as add to the expanding role that social media can be used for intelligence purposes.
21st Century Radicalization: The Role Of The Internet User And Nonuser In Terrorist Outcomes
2014 Woodring, D.W. MA Thesis
This study examines differences between users and nonusers of information communication technologies (ICTs) within the pre-incident planning processes for domestic terrorist movements operating within the United States. In addition, this study is the first quantitative exploration of the prevalence, types, and purposes of ICT use within terrorist movements, specifically environmental, far-right, and Islamic extremist movements. Using“officially designated” federal terrorism investigations from the American Terrorism Study (ATS), we analyzed extracted evidence of ICT usage among individuals (n =331) engaged in the pre-incident planning processes as members of terrorist movements between 1995-2011. While we find significant differences in terrorist ICT use across terrorist movements, our findings suggest that demographics are not a strong predictor of usage. We find the highest prevalence of usage among Islamic movements. However, evidence of online radicalization or recruitment was found predominantly among environmental movements. We conclude with a discussion of these findings and their implications for counterterrorism policy.
Assemblages Of Radicalism: The Online Recruitment Practices Of Islamist Terrorists
2014 Salihu, F. PhD Thesis
This dissertation explores the various online radicalization and recruitment practices of groups like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, as well as Salafi Jihadists in general. I will also outline the inadequacies of the federal government's engagement with terrorist / Islamist ideologies and explore the ways in which early 20th century foundational Islamist theorists like Hasan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, and Abul ala Mawdudi have affected contemporary extremist Islamist groups, while exploring this myth of the ideal caliphate which persists in the ideology of contemporary extremist Islamist groups. In a larger sense, I am arguing that exploitation of the internet (particularly social networking platforms) in the radicalization of new communities of followers is much more dangerous than cyberterrorism (as in attacks on cyber networks within the government and the private sector), which is what is most often considered to be the primary threat that terrorists pose with their presence on the internet. Online radicalization should, I argue, be given more consideration when forming public policy because of the immediate danger that it poses, especially given the rise of microterrorism. Similarly, through the case studies that I am examining, I am bringing the humanities into the discussion of extremist (religious) rhetorics, an area of discourse that those scholars have largely ignored.
Automatic Detection And Forecasting Of Violent Extremist Cyber-Recruitment
2014 Scanlon, J. MA Thesis
The growing use of the Internet as a major means of communication has led to the formation of cyber-communities, which have become increasingly appealing to violent extremists due to the unregulated nature of Internet communication. Online communities enable violent extremists to increase recruitment by allowing them to build personal relationships with a worldwide audience capable of accessing uncensored content. This research presents methods for identifying and forecasting the recruitment activities of violent groups within extremist social media websites. Specifically, these methods employ techniques within supervised learning and natural language processing for automatically: (1) identifying forum posts intended to recruit new violent extremist members, and (2) forecasting recruitment efforts by tracking changes in an online community's discussion over time. We used data from the western jihadist website Ansar AlJihad Network, which was compiled by the University of Arizona's Dark Web Project. Multiple judges manually annotated a sample of these data, marking 192 randomly sampled posts as recruiting (Yes) or non-recruiting (No). We observed significant agreement between the judges' labels; the confidence interval of Cohen's kappa was (0.5,0.9) at p=0.01. We used naive Bayes models, logistic regression, classification trees, boosting, and support vector machines (SVM) to classify the forum posts in a 10-fold cross-validation experimental setup. Evaluation with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves show that our SVM classifier achieves 89% area under the curve (AUC), a significant improvement over the 63% AUC performance achieved by our simplest naive Bayes model (Tukey's test at p=0.05). The forecasting task uses a time series regression analysis to model the daily count of extremist recruitment posts. Evaluation with mean absolute scaled error (MASE) shows that employing latent topics as predictors can reduce forecast error compared to a naive (random-walk) model and the baseline time series model. To our knowledge, these are the first results reported on these tasks, and our analysis indicates that automatic detection and forecasting of online terrorist recruitment are feasible tasks. This research could ultimately help identify the impact of violent organizations, like terrorist groups, within the social network of an online community. There are also a number of important areas of future work including classifying non-English posts and measuring how recruitment posts and current events change membership numbers over time.
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.
Three Essays on International Cyber Threats: Target Nation Characteristics, International Rivalry, and Asymmetric Information Exchange
2014 Mauslein, J. A. PhD Thesis
As the Internet is progressively integrated into industrial and defense-related networks around the globe, it is becoming increasing important to understand how state and sub-state groups can use Internet vulnerabilities as a conduit of attack. The current social science literature on cyber threats is largely dominated by descriptive, U.S.-centric research. While this scholarship is important, the findings are not generalizable and fail to address the global aspects of network vulnerabilities. As a result, this dissertation employs a unique dataset of cyber threats from around the world, spanning from 1990 to 2011. This dataset allows for three diverse empirical studies to be conducted. The first study investigates the political, social, and economic characteristics that increase the likelihood of a state being targeted for cyber threats. The results show that different state characteristics are likely to influence the forms of digital attack targeting. For example, states that experience increases in GDP per capita and military size are more likely to be targeted for cyber attacks. Inversely, states that experience increases in GDP per capita and those that are more democratic are less likely to be targeted for cyber terrorism. The second study investigates the role that international rivalries play in cyber threat targeting. The results suggest that states in rivalries may have more reason to strengthen their digital security, and rival actors may be cautious about employing serious, threatening forms of cyber activity against foes because of concerns about escalation. The final study, based upon the crisis bargaining theory, seeks to determine if cyber threat targeting decreases private information asymmetry and therefore decreases conflict participation. Empirical results show that the loss of digital information via cyber means may thus illicit a low intensity threat or militarized action by a target state, but it also simultaneously increases the likelihood that a bargain may be researched, preventing full scale war by reducing the amount of private information held between parties.
Who Matters Online: Measuring influence, evaluating content and countering violent extremism in online social networks
2013 Berger, J.M. and Strathearn, B. Report
It is relatively easy to identify tens of thousands of social media users who have an interest in violent ideologies, but very difficult to figure out which users are worth watching. For students of extremist movements and those working to counter violent extremism online, deciphering the signal amid the noise can prove incredibly daunting. This paper sets out a first step in solving that problem. The authors have devised a scoring system to find out which social media accounts within a specific extremist circle were most influential and most prone to be influenced (a tendency we called exposure).
Defending an Open, Global, Secure and Resilient Internet
2013 Council on Foreign Relations, US Policy
A balkanized Internet beset by hostile cyber-related activities raises a host of questions and problems for the U.S. government, American corporations, and American citizens. The Council on Foreign Relations launched this Task Force to define the scope of this rapidly developing issue and to help shape the norms, rules, and laws that should govern the Internet. This is the report published by the Task Force.
Now on Twitter, Facebook: Jihadi Media Foundation Fursan Al-Balagh
2013 Al-Hadj, M. Report
Media foundations connected to jihadi groups and jihad-supporting organizations, which once released their productions – videos, statements, and more – over jihadi forums, have turned to social media websites, mainly Facebook and Twitter, because of these forums' inability to provide reliable means for communication, interaction, and publication due to constant and often lengthy disruption of their online presence. This report discusses official and unofficial jihadi media foundations' presence on Facebook and Twitter, and identifies the foundations' accounts and provide background information regarding their affiliation and activities.
Current Status Of Military And Technology-Related Subsections On Top Jihadi Forums
2013 Khayat, M. Report
Jihadis have long shared military-related information and expertise on top jihadi forums. Recently, much of that information has been circulated on the various social media outlets, as well. The shared information varies, from original content to translations, summaries, and recommended reading of non-Arabic material. Contrary to the common notion that jihadis are suspicious of, and avoiding circulating, any material originating from "enemy" sources, jihadis visiting military and technology sections on top jihadi forums in fact thrive on a broad base of information, especially information originating with "enemy" sources. This report provides an overview of military and technology-related subsections on the main jihadi forums.
‘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.
Developing an Explanatory Model for the Process of Online Radicalisation and Terrorism
2013 Torok, R. Journal
While the use of the internet and social media as a tool for extremists and terrorists has been well documented, understanding the mechanisms at work has been much more elusive. This paper begins with a grounded theory approach guided by a new theoretical approach to power that utilises both terrorism cases and extremist social media groups to develop an explanatory model of radicalisation. Preliminary hypotheses are developed, explored and refined in order to develop a comprehensive model which is then presented. This model utilises and applies concepts from social theorist Michel Foucault, including the use of discourse and networked power relations in order to normalise and modify thoughts and behaviors. The internet is conceptualised as a type of institution in which this framework of power operates and seeks to recruit and radicalise. Overall, findings suggest that the explanatory model presented is a well suited, yet still incomplete in explaining the process of online radicalisation.
The Dynamics of the Creation, Evolution, and Disappearance of Terrorist Internet Forums
2013 Torres-Soriano, M.R. Journal
An examination of the organisational nature of the threat posed by jihadi terrorism, supplying quantitative and qualitative data on the dynamics behind the creation, evolution, and disappearance of the main jihadi Internet forums during the period 2008–2012. An analysis of the origins and functions of the forums, their links with terrorist organizations, their internal structures, and the processes accounting for their stability in cyberspace shows that far from representing a horizontal structure where the main actors are a network of followers, the terrorist presence on the Internet is in fact a hierarchical organization in which intervention by formal terrorist organizations plays a crucial role.
Turning Away From the Truth: Critique Of Hamami
2013 Al-Muhajir, A.H. Lecture
Demystifying the Abu Mansur Saga
European and American Extreme Right Groups and the Internet
2013 Caiani, M. and Parenti, L. Book
How do right-wing extremist organisations throughout the world use the Internet as a tool for communication and recruitment? What is its role in identity-building within radical right-wing groups and how do they use the Internet to set their agenda, build contacts, spread their ideology and encourage mobilization? This important contribution to the field of Internet politics adopts a social movement perspective to address and examine these important questions. Conducting a comparative content analysis of more than 500 extreme right organizational web sites from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States, it offers an overview of the Internet communication activities of these groups and systematically maps and analyses the links and structure of the virtual communities of the extreme right. Based on reports from the daily press the book presents a protest event analysis of right wing groups’ mobilisation and action strategies, relating them to their online practices. In doing so it exposes the new challenges and opportunities the Internet presents to the groups themselves and the societies in which they exist.
Propaganda 2.0: Psychological Effects of Right‐wing and Islamic Extremist Internet Videos
2013 Rieger, D., Frischlich, L. and Bente, G. Book
This book deals with the psychological effects of extremist propaganda videos. It particularly asks the question how young adults in Germany respond to right- wing as well as Islamic extremist videos which can be found on the Internet today. This is not a book about terrorism, but about the potential conditions which might facilitate a climate of receptivity for radical messages in a young mass audience with diverging cultural and educational background and different attitudes and values.
Tweeting for the Caliphate: Twitter as the New Frontier for Jihadist Propaganda
2013 Prucha, N. and Fisher, A. Journal
This article discusses the emergence of jihadist social media strategies, explains how the Syrian jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) has used Twitter to disseminate content, and analyzes content shared by JN. Using an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of jihadist propaganda, this article demonstrates how jihadist groups are using Twitter to disseminate links to video content shot on the battlefield in Syria and posted for mass consumption on YouTube.
Jihadism: Online Discourses and Representations
2013 Prucha, N. Chapter
[Chapter in, "New Approaches to the Analysis of Jihadism: On and Offline", Rüdiger Lohlker (ed.)] Jihadism has been an important issue of public discussions since 9/11. Internet media have been used by Jihadis as means of communication, propaganda, recruitment, and even training purposes. In this volume, the processes of interaction on Jihadi internet sites are analysed. Particular attention lays on the mechanisms of spread of propaganda via the internet by diverse technical means. The process of transformation of Islamic knowledge into Jihadi knowledge, the rhetorics of videos, the development of South Asian Jihadi organisations and some conceptual issues are discussed.
Uncovering the Wider Structure of Extreme Right Communities Spanning Popular Online Networks
2013 O’Callaghan, D., Greene, D., Conway, M., Carthy, J. and Cunningham, P. Article
Recent years have seen increased interest in the online presence of extreme right groups. Although originally composed of dedicated websites, the online extreme right milieu now spans multiple networks, including popular social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Ideally therefore, any contemporary analysis of online extreme right activity requires the consideration of multiple data sources, rather than being restricted to a single platform. We investigate the potential for Twitter to act as one possible gateway to communities within the wider online network of the extreme right, given its facility for the dissemination of content. A strategy for representing heterogeneous network data with a single homogeneous network for the purpose of community detection is presented, where these inherently dynamic communities are tracked over time. We use this strategy to discover and analyse persistent English and German language extreme right communities.
Neo-Nazis Sympathizers on the Forums of the Romanian Online Publications
2013 Macovei, E.I. Journal
The research aims to highlight how the forums of the Romanian online publications may often become spaces for right-wing extremist propaganda. The case study includes about 1.000 comments of the readers, expressed on the articles about a protest of several intellectuals against a TV program of the Romanian public Television (TVR), where Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the founder of the Iron Guard, a Nazi organization created in 1927, was presented as a romantic hero. The results of the content analysis of comments revealed the stigmatizing themes, the stereotypes and the extremist ideas identified on the forums of these articles. In addition, the comparison between the electronic platforms of the publications showed the importance of their features and of the characteristics of audiences regarding the content of the comments.