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Examining Social Networking to Find People Behind Terrorist Attacks

By ScienceDaily

May 8, 2009



Social Design Group's Yoshiharu Maeno and University of Tokyo professor Yukio Ohsawa have developed a new approach to analyzing social networks that could help find the covert connections between the people responsible for terrorist actions by revealing the nodes that act as hubs in a terrorist network and backtracking to individual planners and perpetrators. The researchers say their approach also could help prevent future attacks.

Maeno and Ohsawa say that along with disaster recovery management, terrorist attacks create the added pressure of short-term responses to the terrorists themselves and the long-term need to identify and weaken the covert operations and infrastructure of the organization behind the attack. Combining the prior understanding of expert investigators with graph theory and computational data processing should make it possible to analyze a terrorist network and reveal latent connections and patterns. The approach involves the discovery of nodes, which are the hubs in a network where different members of the network are connected. Members usually have one or two connections, nodes have several connections, and critical nodes have many more.

To test the validity of their approach, the researchers applied their technique to the network used by the organization behind the 9/11 attacks and were able to find some connections that were not known before the attacks.

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Abstracts Copyright © 2009 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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