Forging information network structures to understand spider webs of fixers, go-betweens and jihadists related to acts of terrorism is a complex task. Adapting models to represent the expected structure of networks for future pattern and missing link detection is even more challenging. In this paper we present first results of a knowledge management tool for counterterrorism practitioners supporting these and other information analysis tasks. We focus on knowledge management situations where a lot of information must be interpreted rapidly or where a group shares and restructures information in order to coordinate or reach consensus. Terrorism information structures are by nature emergent and evolving and as a consequence the retrievable knowledge keeps shifting patterns. We implement spatial and navigational hypertext techniques to support this nature. Working with knowledge, it is a common error to believe that the proliferation of terrorist violence is due to the wider availability of information through the Internet. This misconception, that all you need is knowledge, also applies to counterterrorism strategies. Actually experience, skill and resources of the individuals involved are the key variables on both sides. Therefore, allowing users to edit the structures of a knowledge base populated with open source intelligence, is required to utilize these individual capacities. The presented counterterrorism tool adheres to a philosophy where humans are in charge, and the tool is there to assist the humans. A high degree of tool transparency allows non-analysts such as politicians and other leaders to make more informed decisions. We argue that dynamic and interactive models of terrorism information structures at different abstraction levels play a key role. The described models will support an adaptive tool behavior to suit the users' specific needs. The implemented philosophy promotes human perception, interaction and use of information, while knowledge structures are available for computer processing.
Adaptive modeling, CrimeFighter Investigator
Main Research Area:
Terrorism and New Media: Building a Research Network, 2010