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

Senior Fellow

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Rashad Ali
Rashad Ali

Senior Fellow

Rashad Ali is a 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

Director of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism

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Milo Comerford
Milo Comerford

Director of Policy & Research, Counter-Extremism

Milo Comerford is Director 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

Resident Senior Fellow, Digital Integrity

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Jiore Craig
Jiore Craig

Resident Senior Fellow, Digital Integrity

Jiore Craig is a Resident Senior Fellow at ISD with focus on Digital Integrity. Her work focuses on safeguarding democracy globally and the wider impact of online harms on society. Jiore advises global leaders on mitigating online harms including work to advance tech policy reform and tech accountability at a global scale. She has extensive international experience, previously spending eight years helping elected officials, political leaders, media organizations, academic institutions and civic society organizations across five continents to research, measure, and effectively mitigate the impact of disinformation and influence operations on public opinion and elections. She previously built a digital research and communications practice serving Europe, Asia, Africa, South and Central America, and the US at a global political consulting firm. Jiore’s work informed the design of major coalition efforts to counter disinformation in the 2020 US and 2019 European Parliament elections. In 2022, Jiore testified for the U.S. Congressional House Administration Elections Subcommittee Hearing on “A Growing Threat: Foreign and Domestic Sources of Disinformation”. She is a member of Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media. Her work is cited in The Washington Post, New York Magazine, The L.A. Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and she has been a featured guest in election broadcast programs around the world, including the podcast Pod Save America.
Jacob Davey
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Jacob Davey

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

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Jacob Davey
Jacob Davey

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

Jacob Davey is the Director 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

Director of Digital Policy

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Henry Tuck
Henry Tuck

Director of Digital Policy

Henry Tuck is the Director 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. 
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, specialising in malign influence operations targeting elections, public health and climate disinformation, far-right extremism and conspiracy theories. Her research includes social media network mapping, data analysis and ethnographic monitoring of closed online spaces. Her writing and commentary has been featured by the BBC, The Guardian, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Wired, among others. She previously worked in publishing and journalism, and holds an MSc in International History from the London School of Economics.