A network design approach to countering terrorism
Torner, Linus P.
Everton, Sean F.
Iatrou, Steven J.
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Several recent terrorist attacks in Western countries have highlighted the need for strategies to disrupt dark networks, and social network analysis (SNA) has proven to be a useful tool for analyzing network structure and identifying weaknesses, based on empirical data. But there are several other factors to consider, and by taking a network design approach, a better understanding can be gained of how networks function and what makes them successful. This thesis applies a conceptual network design approach, together with SNA, in a comparative case study where performance of historical terrorist networks is examined to find recommendations for future counter-terrorism efforts. The conclusion is that design matters; results depend on how well networks are configured for the specific environment, and the network design approach can be used together with SNA to identify vulnerabilities for exploitation. Networks require a balanced configuration to perform well; studying several endogenous and exogenous factors can help counter-terrorism services remove that balance for terrorist networks, and design their own networks to be as efficient as possible. To be successful, counter-terrorist organizations must out-design the terrorist networks.
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