Ranking Terrorists in Networks: A Sensitivity Analysis of Al Qaeda's 9/11 Attack

CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2014-028

12 Pages Posted: 19 Apr 2014

See all articles by Bart Husslage

Bart Husslage

Tilburg University - Department of Econometrics & Operations Research

Peter Borm

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

Twan Burg

Tilburg University - Center for Economic Research (CentER)

Herbert Hamers

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

Roy H. A. Lindelauf

Military Operational Science

Date Written: April 16, 2014

Abstract

All over the world intelligence services are collecting data concerning possible terrorist threats. This information is usually transformed into network structures in which the nodes represent the individuals in the data set and the links possible connections between these individuals. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to keep track of all individuals in the resulting complex network. Therefore, Lindelauf et al. (2013) introduced a methodology that ranks terrorists in a network. The rankings that result from this methodology can be used as a decision support system to efficiently allocate the scarce surveillance means of intelligence agencies. Moreover, usage of these rankings can improve the quality of surveillance which can in turn lead to prevention of attacks or destabilization of the networks under surveillance.

The methodology introduced by Lindelauf et al. (2013) is based on a game theoretic centrality measure, which is innovative in the sense that it takes into account not only the structure of the network but also individual and coalitional characteristics of the members of the network. In this paper we elaborate on this methodology by introducing a new game theoretic centrality measure that better takes into account the operational strength of connected subnetworks.

Moreover, we perform a sensitivity analysis on the rankings derived from this new centrality measure for the case of Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. In this sensitivity analysis we consider firstly the possible additional information available about members of the network, secondly, variations in relational strength and, finally, the absence or presence of a small percentage of links in the network. We also introduce a case specific method to compare the different rankings that result from the sensitivity analysis and show that the new centrality measure is robust to small changes in the data.

Keywords: terrorism; network analysis; centrality measures; cooperative game theory

JEL Classification: C71

Suggested Citation

Husslage, Bart and Borm, Peter E. M. and Burg, Twan and Hamers, Herbert and Lindelauf, Roy H. A., Ranking Terrorists in Networks: A Sensitivity Analysis of Al Qaeda's 9/11 Attack (April 16, 2014). CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2014-028. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2425571 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2425571

Bart Husslage (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Department of Econometrics & Operations Research ( email )

Tilburg, 5000 LE
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

Twan Burg

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

P.O. Box 90153
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

Roy H. A. Lindelauf

Military Operational Science ( email )

Kasteelplein 10
Breda, 4811 XC
Netherlands

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