Advancing the Understanding of Sociospatial Dependencies in Terrorist Networks

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Terrorist networks operate in hybrid space where activities in social and geographic spaces are necessary for logistics and security. The Islamist terrorist network is analyzed as a sociospatial system using social network analysis, Geographic Information Science (GISc), and novel techniques designed for hybrid space analyses. This research focuses on identifying distance and sociospatial dependencies within the terrorist network. A methodology for analyzing sociospatial systems is developed and results lead to a greater understanding of terrorist network structures and activities. Distance and sociospatial dependencies are shown to exist for the Islamist terrorist network structure. These findings are discordant with recent literature that focuses on terrorist network tendencies toward decentralization in the information age. In this research, the Islamist terrorist network is theorized to use multiple structures of hierarchical and decentralized organization for effectiveness, efficiency, and resilience. Implications for counterterrorism policy and strategies are given.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: George Mason University 2: University of Utah

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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