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
Report
Kim Knott, Benjamin Lee
Ideological Transmission: Political and Religious Organisations
Report
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10 min read
Article
Samantha McGarry
The Far Right and Reciprocal Radicalisation
Article
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4 min read
Article
Robert Cialdini, Steve Martin
The Power of Persuasion and Pre-Suasion to Produce Change
Article
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5 min read
Article
Suzanne Newcombe
Disengagement: Lessons from Cults and Sectarian Groups
Article
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4 min read
Article
David Omand
Intelligence ethics: not an oxymoron
Article
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5 min read
Report
Kim Knott
Muslims and Islam in the UK
Report
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15 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
British Muslims: Gender and generations
Guide
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2 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
British Muslims: Families
Guide
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2 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
British Muslims: Mosques
Guide
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1 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
British Muslims: Demography and communities
Guide
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2 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
British Muslims: Charities and organisations
Guide
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2 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
British Muslims: A history
Guide
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1 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
British Muslims: Sectarian Movements
Guide
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2 min read
Guide
Jasjit Singh
Sikh Activism in Britain: Narratives and Issues
Guide
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2 min read
Article
Neil Ferguson
Understanding Engagement in Violent Extremism in Northern Ireland
Article
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3 min read
Report
Kim Knott, Benjamin Lee
Ideological Transmission: Peers, education, and prisons
Report
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7 min read
Article
Cerwyn Moore, Mark Youngman
New report on Russian-speaking Foreign Fighters
Article
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2 min read
Report
Jasjit Singh
The idea, context, framing, and realities of ‘Sikh radicalisation’ in Britain
Report
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6 min read
Article
Jasjit Singh
Religious transmission among young adults in the digital age
Article
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4 min read
Report
Simon Copeland, Elizabeth Morrow, Cerwyn Moore
After Islamic State: Workshop Report 2
Report
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1 min read
Article
Mark Youngman
Learning from ideological variance and change
Article
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3 min read
Article
Benjamin Lee
Understanding the far-right landscape
Article
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2 min read
Guide
Benjamin Lee
Understanding the Far-Right Landscape
Guide
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1 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
George Joffé
Regional Guide: Tunisia
Article
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3 min read
Article
Wolfram Lacher
Regional Guide: Libya
Article
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3 min read
Article
Michael Axworthy
Regional Guide: Iran
Article
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3 min read
Article
Joas Wagemakers
Regional Guide: Jordan
Article
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3 min read
Article
Elisabeth Kendall
Regional Guide: Yemen
Article
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4 min read
Article
Iain Edgar
After Islamic State: the place of night dream inspiration and propaganda
Article
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2 min read
Article
Kim Knott, Matthew Francis
Are converts to Islam more likely to become extremists?
Article
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5 min read
Report
Kim Knott, Benjamin Lee
Ideological Transmission: Families
Report
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5 min read
Article
Kim Knott, Benjamin Lee
How does the family pass on religion?
Article
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3 min read
Article
Amanda van Eck Duymaer van Twist
How beliefs may come and go: a brief overview of a ‘cult career’
Article
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3 min read
Article
Sarah Marsden
From ideological material to targeting choice in leaderless jihadist
Article
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3 min read
Article
Aristotle Kallis
‘Reverse waves’: how radical ideas spread and take hold
Article
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4 min read
Article
Jonathan Scourfield
Learning to be a Muslim
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
Kim Knott
Why transmission?
Article
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3 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
Islam: Conversion
Guide
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2 min read
Article
Benjamin Lee
Understanding the counter-jihad
Article
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2 min read
Guide
Benjamin Lee
The counter jihad movement
Guide
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1 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
Kim Knott
What are the Five Pillars of Islam?
Article
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3 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
Islam: The Five Pillars
Guide
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1 min read
Kim Knott, Matthew Francis
What’s the difference between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims?
3 min read
Guide
Kim Knott
Sunni and Shi‘a Islam: Differences and relationships
Guide
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1 min read
Article
Benjamin Lee
One peaceful march doesn't change Pegida's disturbing ideology
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

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

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.

Between Caucasus and Caliphate: The Splintering of the North Caucasus Insurgency

In December 2014, several high-ranking field commanders from the Caucasus Emirate (Imarat Kavkaz, IK), an insurgent and designated terrorist group in Russia’s North Caucasus, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS). Following the subsequent defection of many of the IK’s surviving commanders, IS consolidated its regional presence with the establishment of a formal branch, the Caucasus Wilayah (IS/CW).

This paper uses Social Movement Theory’s concept of framing to interpret North Caucasus insurgent leaders’ response to the Syrian conflict and identify the differences in the competing factions’ articulated ideologies. It finds that IS/CW leaders have sought to draw on the emotional appeal of the “caliphate” and redirect it back into the local insurgency, while neglecting to articulate alternative tactics or goals.

Those leaders who remained loyal to the IK, by contrast, rooted their opposition in jihadi scholarship and rejected the legitimacy of the “caliphate”. However, apparent ideological differences have been exacerbated by communication difficulties that have hindered leaders’ ability to negotiate internal and external pressures.

This paper contributes to understandings of the differences between the competing factions, illustrates how groups can seek to strengthen their appeal by avoiding explicitness, and demonstrates the importance of operational context in considering ideological change.

(From the journal abstract)


Youngman, Mark. 2016. ‘Between Caucasus and Caliphate: The Splintering of the North Caucasus Insurgency’. Caucasus Survey 4 (3): 194–217. https://doi.org/10.1080/23761199.2016.1215055.

Broader, Vaguer, Weaker: The Evolving Ideology of the Caucasus Emirate Leadership

In October 2007, veteran Chechen field commander Dokka Umarov proclaimed the formation of the Caucasus Emirate (IK), formalising the victory of the North Caucasus insurgency’s Islamist wing over its nationalist-separatists. During Umarov’s time as leader, the North Caucasus experienced sustained violence and the IK claimed responsibility for multiple terrorist attacks in and beyond the region.

However, despite the importance of ideology in understanding insurgent behaviour, the IK’s ideology and Umarov’s role in shaping it remain understudied. Using Social Movement Theory’s concept of framing to analyse Umarov’s communiqués throughout his lengthy tenure (June 2006–September 2013), this article identifies three distinct phases in Umarov’s ideological positioning of the insurgency: nationalist-jihadist (June 2006–October 2007); Khattabist (October 2007–late 2010); and partially hybridised (late 2010–September 2013).

The article contributes to debates over typologies of jihadist actors by highlighting the difficulties in applying them to the North Caucasus and provides a clearer understanding of the IK’s ideological transformation and the limits to its engagement with external actors.

The article also illustrates that weakness was a key factor in explaining that transformation and identifies several avenues for research that could further enhance our understanding of the IK’s ideology and the role it plays.

(From the journal abstract)


Youngman, Mark. 2016. ‘Broader, Vaguer, Weaker: The Evolving Ideology of the Caucasus Emirate Leadership’. Terrorism and Political Violence 0 (0): 1–23. https://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2016.1229666

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.

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