Understanding Terrorist Network Topologies and Their Resilience Against Disruption

CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2009-85

14 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2009

See all articles by Roy H. A. Lindelauf

Roy H. A. Lindelauf

Military Operational Science

Peter Borm

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER); Tilburg University - Department of Econometrics & Operations Research

Herbert Hamers

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER); Tilburg University - Department of Econometrics & Operations Research

Date Written: November 4, 2009

Abstract

This article investigates the structural position of covert (terrorist or criminal) networks. Using the secrecy versus information tradeoff characterization of covert networks it is shown that their network structures are generally not small-worlds, in contradistinction to many overt social networks. This finding is backed by empirical evidence concerning Jemaah Islamiyah's Bali bombing and a heroin distribution network in New York. The importance of this finding lies in the strength such a topology provides. Disruption and attack by counterterrorist agencies often focuses on the isolation and capture of highly connected individuals. The remarkable result is that these covert networks are well suited against such targeted attacks as shown by the resilience properties of secrecy versus information balanced networks. This provides an explanation of the survival of global terrorist networks and food for thought on counterterrorism strategy policy.

Keywords: terror networks, terrorist cells, network structure, counterterrorism

JEL Classification: C02, C79

Suggested Citation

Lindelauf, Roy H. A. and Borm, Peter E. M. and Hamers, Herbert, Understanding Terrorist Network Topologies and Their Resilience Against Disruption (November 4, 2009). CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2009-85. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1499663 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1499663

Roy H. A. Lindelauf (Contact Author)

Military Operational Science ( email )

Kasteelplein 10
Breda, 4811 XC
Netherlands

Peter E. M. Borm

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER) ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Tilburg University - Department of Econometrics & Operations Research

Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Herbert Hamers

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER) ( email )

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands
+31 13 4666 2660 (Phone)

Tilburg University - Department of Econometrics & Operations Research

Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
165
Abstract Views
846
rank
193,131
PlumX Metrics