TERRORISM FROM A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE: INFLUENCE AND NETWORK STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
Aw, Ee Hong
Isenhour, Michelle L.
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While terrorism is not new, today’s terrorist threat is different from that of the past. Terrorism has evolved, and terrorist groups today are more structured and better organized. Modern technology enables terrorists to plan and operate worldwide as never before. Through the constant exchange of information between parties, perpetrator groups may influence or be influenced by other perpetrator groups to improve their efficacy. This study moves away from the traditional analysis of terrorist groups and examines terrorist networks from a global perspective. Using network science and our proposed methodology to calculate influence strength, this thesis looks at the extent of influence of one perpetrator group with another based on their activities and locations. We observe that some perpetrator groups, like ISIL and Al–Nusrah Front, have high and increasing influence strength. Some of these perpetrator groups are, from a network science perspective, neighbors. In addition, the community detection algorithm shows that most of the perpetrator groups with high influence strength exist within the same network-defined community. Our proposed influence score metric allows measurement of a node's actual influence score based on the responses of other nodes around it, as compared to existing measures, which determine the node's influential strength by its position in the network. We hope our study provides insights into terrorism and how influence spreads among perpetrators.
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