Guide
Paul Gill
How do terrorists make decisions?
Guide
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6 min read
Article
Benjamin Lee
Blind Networks in the Extreme-Right
Article
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4 min read
Article
Benjamin Lee
A Short Guide to Narratives of the Far-Right
Article
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3 min read
Article
Joel Busher, Gareth Harris, Graham Macklin
Credibility contests and the ebb and flow of anti-minority activism
Article
|
10 min read
Article
Rosie Mutton
Understanding the Roles Women Play in Violence Extremism and Why it Matters
Article
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4 min read
Article
Nick Crossley
Strengths and Vulnerabilities in (Covert) Network Structure
Article
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4 min read
Article
Emma Grace
Bouncing Back: Stress and Resilience in Al-Qaeda Terrorists
Article
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6 min read
Article
Kristine Endsjø
Affect and emotion in extremist discourse
Article
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3 min read
Article
Noémie Bouhana
Analysing Lone-Actor Terrorism in Context
Article
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5 min read
Article
Joel Busher, Donald Holbrook, Graham Macklin
Explaining Non- Or Limited Escalation Of Violence: The role of ‘Internal Brakes'
Article
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3 min read
Report
Monica Lloyd
Extremism Risk Assessment: A Directory
Report
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2 min read
Report
Joel Busher, Donald Holbrook, Graham Macklin
The Internal Brakes on Violent Escalation: A Descriptive Typology
Report
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6 min read
Report
Joel Busher, Donald Holbrook, Graham Macklin
The Internal Brakes on Violent Escalation: The Transnational and British Jihadi Scene
Report
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1 min read
Report
Joel Busher, Donald Holbrook, Graham Macklin
The Internal Brakes on Violent Escalation: The British Extreme Right
Report
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1 min read
Report
Joel Busher, Donald Holbrook, Gareth Harris
The Internal Brakes on Violent Escalation: The Animal Liberation Movement
Report
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1 min read
Article
Emily Corner
Mental Disorder in Terrorism, Mass Murder, and Violence: Moving away from Pathologising Grievance
Article
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5 min read
Report
Christopher McDowell, Valentina Aronica, Gemma Collantes-Celador, Natasha De Silva
Asylum, Security, and Extremism
Report
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4 min read
Article
Suzanne Newcombe
Disengagement: Lessons from Cults and Sectarian Groups
Article
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4 min read
Article
Neil Ferguson
Understanding Engagement in Violent Extremism in Northern Ireland
Article
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3 min read
Article
Paul Gill
8 things you need to know about terrorist decision-making
Article
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4 min read
Article
Renate Geurts
Why professionals are needed to assess threats of violence
Article
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3 min read
Report
Simon Copeland, Elizabeth Morrow, Cerwyn Moore
After Islamic State: Workshop Report 4
Report
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1 min read
Report
Simon Copeland, Elizabeth Morrow, Cerwyn Moore
After Islamic State: Workshop Report 3
Report
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1 min read
Article
Cerwyn Moore, Mark Youngman
New report on Russian-speaking Foreign Fighters
Article
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2 min read
Report
Cerwyn Moore, Mark Youngman
‘Russian-Speaking’ Fighters in Syria, Iraq, and at Home: Consequences and Context
Report
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5 min read
Policy brief
Cerwyn Moore, Mark Youngman
‘Russian-Speaking’ Fighters in Syria, Iraq, and at Home
Policy brief
|
2 min read
Report
Simon Copeland, Elizabeth Morrow, Cerwyn Moore
After Islamic State: Workshop Report 2
Report
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1 min read
Article
Michele Grossman, Paul Thomas
What are the barriers to reporting people suspected of violent extremism?
Article
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3 min read
Article
Martin Everett
Covert Networks
Article
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2 min read
Article
Stephane Baele, Katharine Boyd, Travis Coan
Extremist Prose as Networks
Article
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3 min read
Article
Mia Bloom
Islamic State messaging on Telegram
Article
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3 min read
Article
Katharina Karcher
Can female participation in political violence lead to social progress? – a case study from Germany
Article
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3 min read
Article
Benjamin Lee
Understanding the far-right landscape
Article
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2 min read
Article
John Horgan
The Lost Boys
Article
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6 min read
Article
Mark Youngman
Lessons from the decline of the North Caucasus insurgency
Article
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4 min read
Report
Simon Copeland, Elizabeth Morrow, Cerwyn Moore
After Islamic State: Workshop Report 1
Report
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1 min read
Article
Donald Holbrook
The Islamic State and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s ‘alternative jihad’
Article
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3 min read
Article
Nelly Lahoud
What Next for Islamic State?
Article
|
4 min read
Article
Christopher McDowell
Sri Lanka, Diaspora Politics, and The End of Violence
Article
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4 min read
Article
Cerwyn Moore
Transnational Activism Through the Ages
Article
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3 min read
Article
Kris Christmann
Manchester attack: an 'arms race' against ever adapting terror networks
Article
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4 min read
Article
Cerwyn Moore, Timothy Holman
Remainers and leavers: Foreign fighters after the ‘Islamic State’
Article
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5 min read
Article
Rosie Mutton
The role of gender in violent extremism
Article
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3 min read
Article
Mark Youngman
After St Petersburg: Russia and the Threat from Central Asian Terror Networks
Article
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5 min read
Article
Simon Copeland
The Importance of Terrorists’ Families and Friends
Article
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4 min read
Article
Mark Youngman
Russia's domestic terrorism threat is serious, sophisticated, and complex
Article
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4 min read
Article
Kim Knott, Matthew Francis
Are converts to Islam more likely to become extremists?
Article
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5 min read
Article
Sarah Marsden
From ideological material to targeting choice in leaderless jihadist
Article
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3 min read
Article
John F. Morrison
Transmitting Legitimacy and Victimhood: Violent Dissident Irish Republicanism
Article
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3 min read
Article
Linda Woodhead
The continuing growth of religious extremism and how to counter it
Article
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6 min read
Article
Benjamin Lee
Understanding the counter-jihad
Article
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2 min read
Article
Elizabeth Morrow
Loyal footsoldiers: The attractions of EDL activism
Article
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5 min read
Article
Emma Barrett
The role of trust in deciding which terrorist faction to join
Article
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2 min read
Article
Nicholas Ryder
Where does the Islamic State get its money?
Article
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4 min read
Article
Cerwyn Moore, Elizabeth Morrow
What role do women play in violent extremism?
Article
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3 min read
Article
Emma Barrett, Matthew Francis
Terrorists’ use of messaging applications
Article
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3 min read
Article
Matthew Francis
Paris attacks: there is no simple explanation
Article
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3 min read
Staying Engaged in Terrorism: Narrative Accounts of Sustaining Participation in Violent Extremism

Research exploring radicalization pathways and how and why people become involved in terrorism has expanded since the 9/11 attacks. Likewise, over the last decade research exploring de-radicalization and desistence from terrorism has grown and expanded in an attempt to promote exit from extremist or terror groups.

However, research studies on how individuals sustain engagement in terrorism and their involvement with extremist organizations, often in the face of great adversity, are absent from the body of research.

To address this scarcity of research this study analyzed accounts of engagement in violent extremism produced by Northern Irish loyalist and republican paramilitaries in order to explore how their paramilitary lifestyle, perpetration of acts of political violence and the pressure from countering threats posed by rival groups, and the State security forces impacted on them.

The analysis utilized a hybrid of thematic analysis and interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). The themes raised through the analysis reflected the psychological, social and economic hardship associated with this lifestyle. The narrative accounts also illustrated psychological changes associated to engagement in violence and from insulation within tightly knit extremist groups.

As most of the participants faced incarceration during their paramilitary careers, themes also reflected on the impact imprisonment had on them. The themes explored factors that sustained their involvement, including the role of identity development and identity fusion in sustaining their extremism, the impact of insulated group membership, feelings of efficacy, dehumanization processes, community support, and beliefs in the utility of violence.

(From the journal abstract)


Neil Ferguson & James W. McAuley, 2020. Staying engaged in terrorism: narrative accounts of sustaining participation in violent extremism. Frontiers in psychology.
https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01338

Community reporting on violent extremism by 'intimates': emergent findings from international evidence

To promote early intervention strategies, Countering/Preventing Violent Extremism (C/PVE) policies internationally seek to encourage community reporting by 'intimates' about someone close to them engaging in terrorist planning.

Yet historically, we have scant evidence around what either helps or hinders intimates to share concerns with authorities. We address that deficit here through a state-of-the-art assessment of what we currently know about effective related C/PVE approaches to community reporting, based on key findings from a groundbreaking Australian study and its UK replication.

The consistency of qualitative findings from nearly 100 respondents offers new paradigms for policy and practice.

(From the journal abstract)


Paul Thomas, Michele Grossman, Kris Christmann, and Shamim Miah, 2020. Community reporting on violent extremism by 'intimates': emergent findings from international evidence. Critical Studies on Terrorism.https://doi.org/10.1080/17539153.2020.1791389

ISIS Propaganda: A Full-Spectrum Extremist Message

This book offers a comprehensive overview and analysis of the Islamic State's use of propaganda.

Combining a range of different theoretical perspectives from across the social sciences, and using rigorous methods, the authors trace the origins of the Islamic State's message, laying bare the strategic logic guiding its evolution, examining each of its multi-media components, and showing how these elements work together to radicalize audiences' worldviews.

This volume highlights the challenges that this sort of "full-spectrum propaganda" raises for counter terrorism forces. It is not only a one-stop resource for any analyst of IS and Salafi-jihadism, but also a rich contribution to the study of text and visual propaganda, radicalization and political violence, and international security.

(From the book abstract)


Stephane J. Baele, Katharine A. Boyd, and Travis G. Coan. 2020. ‘ISIS Propaganda: A Full-Spectrum Extremist Message’. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190932459 

Ideological Transmission in Extremist Contexts: Towards a Framework of How Ideas Are Shared

Despite their centrality in academic and policy debates about radicalization and political violence, ideologies have been conceived narrowly, as cognitive, top-down, coherent and systematic.

In general, those who have used the concept of ideology have failed to draw on ideological theory or on recent insights about its practice and embodiment, or location in space and time.

Our interest is less in the content of ideology than in how it is shared by those for whom it matters. We offer an interpretive framework, based on six key questions about ideological transmission: What ideas, beliefs, and values are shared, how and why, by whom, and in which spatial and temporary contexts?

Following a discussion about the methodological pros and cons of the framework, it is tested on a series of interviews with members of Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese religious group responsible for the Tokyo subway attack in 1995. We assess the strengths and limitations of the framework for analysing the various dimensions of ideological transmission before considering what it adds to our understanding of the relationship between extreme beliefs and violent behaviour.

(From the journal abstract)


Kim Knott & Benjamin Lee, 2020. Ideological Transmission in Extremist Contexts: Towards a Framework of How Ideas Are Shared. Politics, Religion & Ideology.https://doi.org/10.1080/21567689.2020.1732938

Radicalization or Reaction: Understanding Engagement in Violent Extremism in Northern Ireland

Over the last decade various theoretical models of radicalization or pathways into engagement in violent extremism have been developed. However, there is a dearth of primary data based on direct contact with violent extremists to test these models.

In order to address this weakness, we analyzed accounts of engagement in violent extremism produced by former Northern Irish loyalist and republican paramilitaries to explore their understanding of how and why they engaged in this seemingly politically motivated violence.

A thematic analysis incorporating aspects of interpretative phenomenological analysis was employed to gain an understanding of these accounts. While the analysis of the interview transcripts produced findings that share similarities with many of the theoretical models, they challenge the importance of ideological radicalization in fueling initial engagement in violent extremism. Instead, the results demonstrate the importance of collective identity, reaction to events, perceived threats, community grievance, and peer and family influences in fueling initial engagement with the armed groups. Insulation and small‐group pressures within the organizations then amplify identity, threat perceptions, and biases, which increase feelings of efficacy and engagement in violence.

Finally, the findings discuss the role of imprisonment in ideologically radicalizing the participants, which in turn allows the paramilitaries to both sustain and rationalize their violent extremism.

(From the journal abstract)


Neil Ferguson & James W. McAuley, 2019. Radicalization or Reaction: Understanding Engagement in Violent Extremism in Northern Ireland. Political Psychology.https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12618

Terrorist Decision Making in the Context of Risk, Attack Planning, and Attack Commission

Terrorists from a wide array of ideological influences and organizational structures consider security and risk on a continuous and rational basis. The rationality of terrorism has been long noted of course but studies tended to focus on organizational reasoning behind the strategic turn toward violence. A more recent shift within the literature has examined rational behaviors that underpin the actual tactical commission of a terrorist offense. This article is interested in answering the following questions: What does the cost–benefit decision look like on a single operation? What does the planning process look like? How do terrorists choose between discrete targets? What emotions are felt during the planning and operational phases? What environmental cues are utilized in the decision-making process? Fortunately, much insight is available from the wider criminological literature where studies often provide offender-oriented accounts of the crime commission process. We hypothesize similar factors take place in terrorist decision making and search for evidence within a body of terrorist autobiographies.

(From the journal abstract)


Paul Gill, Zoe Marchment, Emily Corner, and Noémie Bouhana. 2018. ‘Terrorist Decision Making in the Context of Risk, Attack Planning, and Attack Commission’. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism: https://doi.org/10.1080/1057610X.2018.1445501.

Violent Extremism: A Comparison of Approaches to Assessing and Managing Risk

The task of assessing and managing risk of violence has evolved considerably in the last 25 years, and the field of violent extremism has the potential to stand on the shoulders of the giants of this time. Therefore, the objective of this study was to identify good practice in the risk field and to apply that to the specific area of risk in relation to violent extremism – in order that developments here accord to highest standards of practice achieved so far elsewhere.

Method and Results

We begin by addressing the essential requirement to define the task of assessing and managing the risk of violent extremism – What is its purpose and parameters, who are its practitioners, in what contexts is this activity delivered, and how might any such context both facilitate and hinder the objectives of the task? Next, we map the terrain – What guidance is already available to assist practitioners in their work of understanding and managing the risk of violent extremism, and by what standards may we judge the quality of this and future guidance in the contexts in which is it applied? Finally, we explore options for the development of the field in terms of the empirical basis upon which the risks presented by individuals and the organizations to which they may affiliate are assessed, understood, and managed.

Conclusions

Recommendations are proposed in relation to each of these three areas of concern with a view to supporting the rapid and credible advancement of this growing and vital area of endeavour.

(From the journal abstract)


Caroline Logan and Monica Lloyd. 2019. ‘Violent Extremism: A Comparison of Approaches to Assessing and Managing Risk’. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 24 (1): 141–61. https://doi.org/10.1111/lcrp.12140.

Applying the Study of Religions in the Security Domain: Knowledge, Skills, and Collaboration

Since the 1990s, scholars of religion on both sides of the Atlantic have been drawn into engagement with law enforcement agencies and security policymakers and practitioners, particularly for their expertise on new religious movements and Islam. Whilst enabling researchers to contribute to real-world challenges, this relationship has had its frustrations and difficulties, as well as its benefits and opportunities. Drawing on examples from the UK, Canada, and the US, I set out the relationship between religion and the contemporary security landscape before discussing some of the key issues arising in security research partnerships. I then turn to the question of knowledge exchange and translation in the study of religions, developing the distinction between ‘know what’ (knowledge about religions and being religiously literate), ‘know why’ (explaining religions and making the link to security threats), and ‘know how’ (researcher expertise and skills in engagement with practitioners).

(From the journal abstract)


Kim Knott. 2018. ‘Applying the Study of Religions in the Security Domain: Knowledge, Skills, and Collaboration’. Journal of Religious and Political Practice, 4 (3): 354–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/20566093.2018.1525901.

Telling Stories of Terrorism: A Framework for Applying Narrative Approaches to the Study of Militant’s Self-Accounts

Narrative has recently garnered much attention in the study of terrorism but remains poorly understood. This paper offers some initial steps towards translating the promise of narrative approaches into a set of steps for systematically analysing and understanding terrorists’ own accounts of their engagement with extremism and militancy. This approach rests on the assumption that terrorist authored accounts are more than post-hoc rhetorical exercises that aim to persuade others, or even the authors themselves, of the righteousness of their political cause or otherwise mitigate their responsibility for their involvement in violence. In particular, I advance a framework for methodically applying narrative approaches to terrorist authored texts, in particular, autobiographies. In doing so, I will demonstrate how this approach can help better comprehend how individuals involved in militancy understand the world, draw upon existing narrative resources and give meaning to their actions.

(From the journal abstract)


Simon Copeland. 2018. ‘Telling Stories of Terrorism: A Framework for Applying Narrative Approaches to the Study of Militant’s Self-Accounts’. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression: 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/19434472.2018.1525417.

The Internal Brakes on Violent Escalation: A Typology

Most groups do less violence than they are capable of. Yet while there is now an extensive literature on the escalation of or radicalisation towards violence, particularly by ‘extremist’ groups or actors, and while processes of de-escalation or de-radicalisation have also received significant attention, processes of non- or limited escalation have largely gone below the analytical radar.

This article contributes to current efforts to address this limitation in our understanding of the dynamics of political aggression by developing a descriptive typology of the ‘internal brakes’ on violent escalation: the mechanisms through which members of the groups themselves contribute to establish and maintain limits upon their own violence. We identify five underlying logics on which the internal brakes operate: strategic, moral, ego maintenance, outgroup definition, and organisational.

The typology is developed and tested using three very different case studies: the transnational and UK jihadi scene from 2005 to 2016; the British extreme right during the 1990s, and the animal liberation movement in the UK from the mid-1970s until the early 2000s.

(From the journal abstract)


Joel Busher, Donald Holbrook & Graham Macklin 2018. ‘The internal brakes on violent escalation: a typology’. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression 10.1080/19434472.2018.1551918

Racialisation, ‘Religious Violence’ and Radicalisation: The Persistence of Narratives of ‘Sikh Extremism

Recent years have seen concerns raised in media and by policymakers about rising levels of ‘Sikh extremism’ and ‘Sikh radicalisation’ in Western Sikh diasporas.

In this article I analyse why these concerns persist, particularly given the general non-violent nature of ‘Sikh militancy’ (Wallace [[2011]]. “Sikh Militancy and Non-Violence.” In Sikhism In Global Context, edited by Pashaura Singh, 122–144. Oxford University Press) and the relatively few incidents of terrorism beyond those which took place during the height of Sikh militancy in the 1980s.

I argue that these concerns are a consequence of an underlying ‘anxiety about anti-assimilationist religious others’ impacted by (a) the racialisation of religious minorities which began in the colonial period, (b) a specific type of ‘Indian secularism’ which frames Indian legislation and media reporting and (c) the post 9/11 securitisation and increased surveillance of Sikh bodies as part of the ‘War on Terror’ with its concerns about ‘religious violence’ and the necessity of the secular nation state to ensure that any such violence is suitably policed.

This article will be of interest to those examining the racialisation and representations of religious minorities in Western liberal democracies and the impact of securitisation policies on these communities.

(From the journal abstract)


Jasjit Singh, 2019. Racialisation, ‘religious violence’ and radicalisation: the persistence of narratives of ‘Sikh extremism’. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2019.1623018

The Rise and Fall of the English Defence League: Self-Governance, Marginal Members and the Far Right

What determines the success or failure of far-right organisations? This article uses new qualitative data to explain the sudden rise and subsequent decline of the English Defence League, an anti-Islamic, street protest organisation established in the UK in 2009.

We explain the rise and fall of the English Defence League through the lens of the theory of collective action to show that the English Defence League initially motivated activism by supplying selective incentives that were enhanced by the participation of others.

The pursuit of ‘participatory crowding’ led to indiscriminate recruitment into the organisation that enabled numbers to expand into the thousands, but ultimately caused the English Defence League’s downfall because it resulted in the presence of large numbers of ‘marginal members’ with low levels of commitment whose subsequent exit was decisively destructive.

Self-governance mechanisms to ensure greater loyalty from members could have prevented the English Defence League’s decline but would also have limited its initial success.

(From the journal abstract)


Morrow, Elizabeth A, and John Meadowcroft. 2018. ‘The Rise and Fall of the English Defence League: Self-Governance, Marginal Members and the Far Right’. Political Studies, June. https://doi. org/10.1177/0032321718777907.

Psychological and Behavioral Examinations of Online Terrorism

It has long been recognised that terrorists make use of the internet as one of many means through which to further their cause. This use of the internet has fuelled a large number of studies seeking to understand terrorists' use of online environments.

This chapter provides an overview of current understandings of online terrorist behavior, coupled with an outline of the qualitative and quantitative approaches that can and have been adopted to research this phenomenon. The chapter closes with a discussion of the contentious issue of ethics in online terrorism research.

The aim of the chapter is to equip readers with the necessary knowledge and skills to conduct their own research into terrorists' online behavior, taking best ethical practices into consideration when doing so.

(From the book abstract)


Prentice, Sheryl, and Paul J. Taylor. 2018. ‘Psychological and Behavioral Examinations of Online Terrorism’. In Psychological and Behavioral Examinations in Cyber Security, edited by John McAlaney, 151–71. https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/psychological-and-behavioral-examinations-of-online-terrorism/199887.

Same Kind of Different: Affordances, Terrorism, and the Internet

The rapid development of the Internet as a cornerstone of private and social life has provoked a growing effort by law enforcement and security agencies to understand what role the Internet plays in terrorism. Paul Gill, Emily Corner, Maura Conway, Amy Thornton, Mia Bloom, and John Horgan's (2017, this issue) effort to identify empirically when and how terrorists engage with the Internet is thus timely and important.

Understanding when terrorists use the Internet is valuable for investigators who must evaluate the immediacy of the risk posed by a suspect or cell. Knowing the typical patterns of use (or lack of use) can facilitate inferences about a cell's preparedness, the nature of its support, and even the goal of its attack. Understanding how terrorists use the Internet is essential for policy makers who must construct legislation to deter citizens from terrorism while retaining their rights to freedom.

This is arguably best accomplished by legislation targeted at a narrow set of Internet uses that are, as far as possible, exclusively associated with illegal actions.

In this policy essay, we focus on two of Gill et al.’s (2017) main contributions. We argue that, subject to robust independent replication, they encourage thought about the functions of the Internet for terrorists, which in turn may have implications that offer useful guidance for policy and practice. Alongside the article's conceptual contributions, Gill et al. also assert to have resolved several pragmatic challenges and we suggest ways in which their solutions, if developed fully, could offer value to the security analyst community. Finally, we take stock of where Gill et al.’s contribution has left us and review the next steps.

(From the journal abstract)


Taylor, Paul J., Donald Holbrook, and Adam Joinson. 2017. ‘Same Kind of Different’. Criminology & Public Policy 16 (1): 127–33. https://doi.org/10.1111/1745-9133.12285.

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