A new approach to analyzing social networks, reported in the current issue of the International Journal of Services Sciences, could help homeland security find the covert connections between the people behind terrorist attacks. The approach involves revealing the nodes that act as hubs in a terrorist network and tracing back to individual planners and perpetrators.
Yoshiharu Maeno of the Social Design Group, in Bunkyo-ku, and Yukio Ohsawa at the School of Engineering, University of Tokyo, Japan, explain that their analytical approach to understanding terrorist networks could ultimately help prevent future attacks.
In retrospect the connections seem obvious, but they were not seen initially, but the Japanese team’s analysis could have unearthed them much sooner. Mohand Alshehri helped Mohammed Atta hijack the AA11 and fly it into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Mohand Alshehri hijacked the AA175 and flew it into the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Waleed Alshehri had six links and is, the researchers demonstrate, the keystone person.
Having such network insights sooner rather than later would allow investigators to gather information on associates, friends, and relatives of a suspect terrorist and so bring the perpetrators to justice that much sooner or perhaps even unravel a network plotting future attacks.
Yoshiharu Maeno, & Yoshiharu Maeno (2009). Analysing covert social network foundation behind terrorism disaster International Journal of Services Sciences, 2 (2), 125-141