Dark Network Resilience in a Hostile Environment: Optimizing Centralization and Density
Everton, Sean F.
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In recent years, the world has witnessed the emergence of violent extremists (VEs), and they have become an ongoing concern for countries around the globe. A great deal of effort has been expended examining their nature and structure in order to aid in the development of interventions to prevent further violence. Analysts and scholars have been particularly interested in identifying structural features that enhance (or diminish) VE resilience to exogenous and endogenous shocks. As many have noted, VEs typically seek to balance operational security and capacity/efficiency. Some argue that their desire for secrecy outweighs their desire for efficiency, which leads them to be less centralized with few internal connections. Others argue that centralization is necessary because security is more easily compromised and that internal density promotes solidarity and limits countervailing influences. Unsurprisingly, scholars have found evidence for both positions. In this paper, we analyze the Noordin Top terrorist network over time to examine the security-efficiency tradeoff from a new perspective. We find that the process by which they adopt various network structures is far more complex than much of the current literature suggests. The results of this analysis highlight implications for devising strategic options to monitor and disrupt dark networks.
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