Data Sets and Research Methods

ISD’s research is data-driven and our pioneering analysis of extremism, polarisation and disinformation informs all our work.

The meticulous collection and analysis of primary data is vital to understanding the nature of the challenge that we face and plays a significant role in our overall research efforts. ISD researchers provide thought leadership on key trends within extremist movements and granular, on-the-ground insights that inform our programmes, training models and government policy advisory worldwide.

From our work on the far-right to the phenomenon of ISIS and anti-ISIS foreign terrorist fighters, from lone actor terrorists to women joining ISIS, ISD’s research has helped to reveal previously unseen challenges, enabling us and others to design effective and forward thinking programmes.

As the volume of counter-extremism programming grows, evaluating the impact of our programmes becomes ever more important. ISD’s research team includes highly experienced evaluation experts, enabling us to design robust impact assessment frameworks for programmes operating across the world in a wide range of contexts and sectors. Combining evaluative rigour with counter-extremism experience, ISD continually works to develop innovative new evaluation methods for both online and offline campaigns, programmes and interventions.

  • Research

    We combine qualitative and quantitative methodologies with world-leading expertise to conduct both online and offline research. Our research has been consistently ahead of the curve, predicting developments in extremism and informing global responses to emerging challenges for over a decade.

  • Data sets

    ISD is one of the world’s leading think tanks in the construction and analysis of primary datasets. This includes the largest database of social media profiles of women who have travelled from the West to support ISIS and their affiliates in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and the world’s largest database of those who travel to conflict zones to fight against ISIS.

  • Evaluation

    ISD’s measurement and evaluation efforts seek to set the standard in programme evaluation, developing the quality and scale of the counter-extremism evidence base. Our digital evaluation models provide us with real-time data on the impact of counter-extremism activities, allowing us to develop and adjust to meet complex emerging threats.

ISD was a lead partner in the construction of Professor Jytte Klausen’s Western Jihadism Project, and in partnership with RUSI, Chatham House and Leiden University, constructed a database that details all of the lone actor terrorist incidents that have taken place in Europe since 2000. This dataset contains over 70 variables, including biographic information, on a group of 120 perpetrators.

ISD Senior Research Fellow, Amarnath Amarasingam, has constructed the world’s largest collection of interviews with ISIS fighters who travelled to Syria and Iraq since the group’s inception, revealing the motivations of these individuals and the risks they pose if they return.

ISD is currently building databases of extreme far-right influencers online, as well as amplifiers of state-supported disinformation.

 

ISD’s research team

Rashad Ali
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Rashad Ali

Resident Senior Fellow

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Rashad Ali
Rashad Ali

Resident Senior Fellow

Rashad Ali is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD. Rashad is a counter terrorism practitioner who works on deradicalisation initiatives alongside Prisons, Probation Services, Police and community groups. He was formerly a national leadership member of Hizb ut-Tahrir, the revolutionary Islamist organisation and has been actively involved in undermining its extreme ideology and perversion of Muslim faith since his departure. As a researcher he has given testimony and contributed submissions to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Radicalisation, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Intelligence and has briefed the London Mayor's office on Counter Terrorism and has been consulted by think tanks and governments in Germany, Denmark, the EU and the US. He is an external lecturer for Derby University’s Master Class courses on Radicalisation and Counter Terrorism. He has written for The Observer, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, The Times, Dissent Magazine, Birlingske in Denmark, Conservative Home, and given commentary for Newsnight, BBC News. He is the author of Islam, Shariah and the Far Right published by Demoqratiya journal, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism published by HJS and EFD, and the author of the ISD report Blasphemy, Charlie Hebdo, and the Freedom of Belief and Expression. He is classically trained in Islamic theology and jurisprudence and Modern studies in Islam. He studied at al-Azhar University, Cairo, and the Markfield Institute.
Milo Comerford
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Milo Comerford

Head of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism

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Milo Comerford
Milo Comerford

Head of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism

Milo Comerford is Head of Policy & Research, Counter Extremism, leading ISD’s work developing innovative research approaches and policy responses to extremism. Milo regularly briefs senior decision makers around the world on the challenge posed by extremist ideologies, and advises governments and international agencies on building effective strategies for countering extremism. He was previously Senior Analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, where he led major research projects on Salafi-jihadi propaganda, international educational responses to extremism, and the transnational far right. His writing and research features frequently in international media and he has made recent broadcast appearances on BBC News, Sky News and Al Jazeera.
Jiore Craig
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Jiore Craig

Head of Digital Integrity

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Jiore Craig
Jiore Craig

Head of Digital Integrity

Jiore Craig is the Head of Digital Integrity at ISD. She has extensive international experience, previously spending eight years helping elected officials, political leaders, media organisations, academic institutions and civic society organisations across five continents to measure the impact of digital communication and influence campaigns on public opinion and communicate effectively in the wake of the threat of disinformation around elections. She was previously a Vice President at a global political consulting firm, where she built a digital practice serving Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central America and the US. Jiore’s work informed the design of major coalition efforts to counter disinformation in the 2020 US and 2019 European Parliament elections. Her work is cited in The Washington Post, New York Magazine, The L.A. Times, The New Yorker, and she has been a featured guest on the election podcast, Pod Save America.
Jacob Davey
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Jacob Davey

Head of Research & Policy, Far-right and Hate Movements

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Jacob Davey
Jacob Davey

Head of Research & Policy, Far-right and Hate Movements

Jacob Davey is Head of Research & Policy for Far-right and Hate Movements at ISD. Jacob has managed projects focusing on online hate speech, the international far-right and political violence. He has led a number of projects piloting novel models for identifying extremist conversation and hate speech online, including analysis tracking hate groups in the UK, USA, Canada and Australia, and is currently leading a major programme of work mitigating hate threats in the US. He has advised national and local policymakers on right-wing extremism, including the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament. Jacob has managed and co-authored numerous ISD reports including Between Conspiracy and Extremism: A Long COVID Threat?, ISD’s Gaming and Extremism Series, and A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram.
Henry Tuck
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Henry Tuck

Head of Digital Policy

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Henry Tuck
Henry Tuck

Head of Digital Policy

Henry Tuck is the Head of Digital Policy at ISD, where he leads Advisory work on digital regulation and tech company responses to terrorism, extremism, hate and dis/misinformation online. Henry oversees ISD’s Digital Policy Lab (DPL) and engagement on key digital regulation proposals in Europe and Five Eyes countries, advises key governments, international organisations and major private sector tech companies, and collaborates with ISD’s Digital Analysis Unit to translate research into actionable digital policy recommendations. Having joined ISD in 2013, Henry has previously worked across a variety of ISD’s Analysis and Action programmes, including education, on- and offline counter-extremism interventions, and civil society networks. Henry holds a Masters in International Conflict Studies from Kings College London, and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Durham University. 
Jasmine El-Gamal
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Jasmine El-Gamal

Senior Manager, AMEA

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Jasmine El-Gamal
Jasmine El-Gamal

Senior Manager, AMEA

Jasmine is a Senior Manager for Africa, Middle East and Asia (AMEA) at ISD, where she is responsible for overseeing prevention of violent extremism (PVE) research and programming. From 2015-2020, Jasmine was a Senior Fellow with the Middle East program at the Atlantic Council, where she focused primarily on U.S. policies in the Middle East. From 2013-2015, Jasmine served as a Special Assistant to three consecutive Under Secretaries of Defense for Policy at the Pentagon, where she advised on national security issues. From 2008-2013, Jasmine served as a Middle East advisor at the Pentagon, where she served three Secretaries of Defense. During her tenure, she prepared and staffed the Secretary of Defense on foreign trips and during Congressional briefings. She covered issues related to Iraq, Syria, the Arab Spring and ISIS, among others, and served as the Acting Chief of Staff for the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Middle East Policy. From 2014-2016, Jasmine served as a translator and cultural advisor to the Office for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants (OARDEC) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where she provided briefings on Islam and Arab culture to incoming military officers in advance of their participation on the Review Boards. She conducted over 100 detainee interviews during her time at GTMO regarding their background and journey to Afghanistan and ensured the integrity of their testimony during their review boards, many of which resulted in the illumination of their unjust detention. In 2003, Jasmine served as a translator with a U.S. Civil Affairs team responsible for reconstruction in Southern Iraq, helping to facilitate communication and cooperation between U.S. forces and the local population in rebuilding the area. Her commentary has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Time Magazine, CNN, Al Jazeera, Al Hurra, L’Orient du Jour, Sawt al Azhar, Al Masry Al Youm and other international outlets.
Cooper Gatewood
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Cooper Gatewood

Senior Digital Research Manager

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Cooper Gatewood
Cooper Gatewood

Senior Digital Research Manager

Cooper Gatewood is a Senior Digital Research Manager within ISD’s Digital Research Unit, focusing on quantitative research into the spread of hateful and polarising narratives online, and how they are leveraged by extremist actors. Cooper is currently contributing to ISD’s research on disinformation campaigns, particularly those aimed to influence and disrupt election processes. He also manages on the Online Civil Courage Initiative in France, coordinating activities to support civil society’s response to hate and extremism online. In addition, Cooper conducts ongoing evaluation of a number of ISD’s programmes, including Be Internet Citizens and Young Digital Leaders. Cooper also develops monitoring and evaluation frameworks for a number of ISD’s education projects. Previously, Cooper worked at Portland, where he advised clients from the non-profit and government sectors on their media engagement and social media strategies. He is the co-author of ISD reports The Boom Before the Ban: QAnon and Facebook, La pandémie de COVID-19: terreau fertile de la haine en ligne, Fostering Civic Responses to Online Harms, Promouvoir le civisme en ligne face aux malveillances à l’ère du numérique, Disinformation briefing: Narratives around Black Lives Matter and voter fraud, Mapping hate in France: A panoramic view of online discourse, and Building Digital Citizenship in France: Lessons from the Sens Critique project. Cooper holds a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University and a Masters of International Security from Sciences Po and is fluent in Spanish and French, as well as speaking proficient Japanese.
Jakob Guhl
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Jakob Guhl

Senior Manager, Policy & Research

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Jakob Guhl
Jakob Guhl

Senior Manager, Policy & Research

Jakob Guhl is a Senior Manager, Policy & Research, at ISD, where he works within the Digital Research Unit and with ISD Germany. His research focuses on the far-right, Islamist extremism, hate speech, disinformation and conspiracy theories. Jakob is a frequent commentator on German radio and broadcast and has been invited to present his research on online hate to the German Ministry of the Justice and provided evidence to the German Minister of the Interior and the German Family Minister on how to strengthen prevention against right-wing extremism and antisemitism. His research has been featured in Die Zeit, The Guardian, DW, The Telegraph, CNN, Euronews, Coda Story, Vice, Politico, New Republic and Die Welt, among others. Additionally, he has published articles in the “Journal for Deradicalisation”, “Demokratie gegen Menschenfeindlichkeit”, Taz, Der Standard, New Statesman and GNET, and contributed to edited volumes about antisemitism on social media, conspiracy theories and the origins of contemporary political anger. He is the co-author of the ISD reports Researching the Evolving Online Ecosystem: Barriers, Methods and Future Challenges, Gen-Z & The Digital Salafi Ecosystem, Crisis and Loss of Control: German-Language Digital Extremism in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Hosting the ‘Holohoax’: A Snapshot of Holocaust Denial Across Social Media, A Safe Space to Hate: White Supremacist Mobilisation on Telegram and The Online Ecosystem of the German Far-Right. Jakob holds an MA in Terrorism, Security and Society from King’s College London.
Helena Schwertheim
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Helena Schwertheim

Senior Digital Policy and Research Manager, ISD Germany

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Helena Schwertheim
Helena Schwertheim

Senior Digital Policy and Research Manager, ISD Germany

Helena Schwertheim is Senior Digital Policy and Research Manager at ISD Germany, where she leads the Digital Policy Lab (DPL), a new intergovernmental working group focused on policy responses to prevent and counter disinformation, hate speech and extremism. Helena also leads a team of analysts studying digital threats posed to democracy by disinformation, hate speech and extremism.  Previously, Helena managed digital policy and research projects at Democracy Reporting International. She also has experience working in risk and political analysis in international organizations and think tanks, including at the UN World Food Programme in Rome, and the think tank International IDEA in Stockholm.
Cécile Simmons
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Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

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Cécile Simmons
Cécile Simmons

Research Manager

Cécile Simmons is a Research Manager at ISD, working within the digital research and policy team. She has co-authored reports on far-right terrorism and extremism, hate speech, gender-based violence and disinformation campaigns targeting elections. She works with tech companies, government departments and inter-governmental organisations. Cécile features regularly in international media, including BBC News, The Guardian, Politico, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Le Monde, and Wired. She is the co-author of ISD reports La pandémie de COVID-19: terreau fertile de la haine en ligne, Seconde vague et désinformation: Aperçu des tendances sur les réseaux sociaux, The Interplay Between Australia’s Political Fringes on the Right and Left: Online Messaging on Facebook, Public Figures, Public Rage: Candidate abuse on social media, An Online Environmental Scan of Right-wing Extremism in Canada, Mapping hate in France: A panoramic view of online discourse and Fostering Civic Responses to Online Harms: Learnings from the Online Civil Courage Initiative and the Online Civic Fund.