Carnegie Mellon University
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Destabilizing Terrorist Networks

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journal contribution
posted on 1998-01-01, 00:00 authored by Kathleen CarleyKathleen Carley, Jeffrey Reminga, Natasha Kamneva
Most people have at least an intuitive understanding of hierarchies, how they work, and how to affect their behavior. However, covert organizations, such as terrorist organizations, have network structures that are distinct from those in typical hierarchical organizations. Their structure is distinct from the organizations that most people in western culture are used to dealing with. In particular, they tend to be more cellular and distributed. As such, most people do not have an intuitive understanding of how they work and instead seek to think of them as hierarchies. However, analysis reveals that trying to destabilize a cellular distributed network using tactics designed for hierarchies is likely to be ineffective. A secondary problem is that despite the vast quantities of information on the size, shape and structure of these networks, such, information is incomplete and possible erroneous. What is needed is a set of tools and an approach to assessing destabilization strategies in a decision context that takes these difficulties in to account and provides analysts with guidance in assessing alternative destabilization tactics. Such an approach is forwarded in this paper. In addition, initial lessons learned are discussed. The particular approach is extensible and scales well to groups composed of 1000’s of members.




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