Radicalization and Terrorism Analysis

What makes an individual become fanatic and aggressive? What makes a group go from belief, to hostility, and lastly to violence? The Science & Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security has sponsored basic research focused on identifying indicators that groups and individuals are moving toward extremist violence, assessing the impacts of policies and programs developed to counter violent extremism, and understanding the contexts in which extremist violence and countermeasures occur. Findings from these studies will expand and refine current models.

 

 

 

 

PROJECTS:

Violent Intent Modeling and Simulation
Georgiy Bobashev, Burton Levine, Joe Eyerman, Michael Schwerin, Richard Legault

The objective of VIMS is to develop an analytical tool that uses modeling and simulation to interpret the motivations and behaviors of violent groups and identify indicators that could predict when a group will engage in politically motivated violent behavior. The overall goal of the VIMS project is to develop a decision-support tool for intelligence analysts that infuses the tradecraft of intelligence analysis with theory-based social science models of indicators of group violence that fits within the work flow of the intelligence analyst.

Link to Presentation

Adversarial Risk Analysis: Bayesian Methods
David Banks

To develop Bayesian methods for game theoretic situations, and to apply these to auctions, gambling, and bioterrorism, with a model analysis for the smallpox threat.

Link to Presentation
Link to Report
Link to Final Report

REPORTS AND RESEARCH BRIEFS:

Deradicalization: A Review of the Literature with Comparison to Findings in the Literatures on Deganging and Deprogramming”
Madeline Morris, JD
Published 06/14/2010

Since 2002, “deradicalization” programs, which seek to induce the disengagement of suspected terrorists from terrorist activities, have been established in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Bangladesh, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands (Barrett & Bokhari, 2009). The United States has established deradicalization programs in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq and, more recently, Afghanistan (Schmitt, 2009). The deradicalization programs established to date have focused largely on ideological factors—seeking to “deradicalize” program participants through disputation of the content of terrorist groups’ doctrines and religious interpretations (Barrett & Bokhari, 2009; Boucek, 2008, 2009; Boucek, Beg, & Horgan, 2009; Abuza, 2009). The Saudi program has a somewhat broader scope that fosters participants’ reintegration with their families and affords some economic assistance in the post-program period (Stern, 2010). This research brief reviews the literature on deradicalization and evaluates the methodology of deradicalization programs, based on the research identifying individual motivations for entering and exiting terrorist organizations, providing comparison with relevant findings in the literatures on “deprogramming” of cult members and “deganging.”

Link to Research Brief

A Computational Framework for Determination and Exploitation of Social Network Models from Wide-Area Persistent Surveillance Imagery”
Jon Protz, Ph.D.
Published 06/22/2010

Wide-area persistent surveillance promises to revolutionize domestic situational awareness by providing real-time visual imagery of events, individual actors, and groups of interest to the national homeland security mission. However, fully realizing the potential of this technology requires computational tools capable of extracting actionable information from many highly dense data streams. At present, analysis of persistent surveillance imagery demands significant time and manpower resources as intelligence analysts tediously examine such data to identify suspicious activity. With the granularization of homeland security threats, the current approach and its associated strain on human resources must be reexamined with an eye towards automation. In order to realize the promise underlying wide-area persistent surveillance technology, an interdisciplinary approach is necessary. This brief argues that by merging analytic tools from the normally disparate fields of behavioral science and engineering systems theory, a methodology for automatic target identification and exploitation can be realized.

Link to Research Brief

LITERATURE REVIEWS:

How Political and Social Movements Form on the Internet and How They Change Over Time”
Jamie Friedland, Kenneth Rogerson

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are facilitating collective action in ways never thought possible. Although the broader influence on the success or failure of emerging social movement organizations (SMOs), the Internet is enabling groups previously incapable of political action to find their voices. Whether this shift is offering greater relative benefit to previously underrepresented or incumbent political fixtures is subject to debate, but it is clear that like-minded people are now able to better locate and converse with each other via many Internet media. As a result, the distance between talk and organized action has grown smaller.

Link to Literature Review

The Impact of the Internet on Deviant Behavior and Deviant Communities”
Hope Smiley McDonald, Nicole Horstmann, Kevin J. Strom, Mark W. Pope

Online deviant behavior refers to a range of activities, some considered illegal, some considered amoral, many considered both. The Internet has transformed the accessibility of information and enabled individuals with common beliefs to find each other and reinforce behaviors considered unacceptable. Pathological individuals, once limited by time, space, and societal constraints, use virtual communities to communicate and organize. Less clear is the extent to which the Internet has increased or modified the prevalence of certain deviant behaviors. This literature review summarizes current research on three commonly researched types of Internet deviance (i.e., sexual deviance, self-harm groups, and hate groups) with the goal of highlighting common findings that will enhance our understanding of the role(s) that the Internet plays in supporting or encouraging deviant behaviors. Theories and methods used to study these behaviors are briefly reviewed and policy implications are considered.

Link to Literature Review

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