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Reshaping Terrorist Networks


Nelly Avila Moreno escorted by soldiers

Nelly Avila Moreno, a former high-ranking member of Colombia's Marxist FARC guerrillas, is escorted by soldiers on August 10, 2009, as she arrives at a press conference in Medellin, Colombia, to report on her peace efforts since her Surrender.

Credit: Raul Arboleda / AFP / Getty Images

In 2008, a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, commander named Nelly Avila Moreno (a.k.a. Karina) turned herself in to Colombian authorities in response to the announcement of a $1 million award for her arrest. Unlike expensive and risky operations to capture terrorists (such as Al Qaeda's Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the Kurdish PKK's Abdullah Ocalan), Karina had been captured at minimal expense in terms of both financial cost and lives put at risk. The Shaping Terrorist Organization Network Efficiency, or STONE, software platform we developed is designed to identify a set of key operatives in a terrorist network whose removal would maximally defang the organization through a variety of reward programs and capture operations. STONE answers who should be the targets of the reward program and if a government wishes to destabilize a terrorist network and have funds to remove k people, which k people it should target.

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Key Insights

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Such removal operations are essential to international security. Though world governments spent more than $70 billion fighting terrorism from 2001 to 2008, reducing the number of transnational attacks by 34%, there was a net increase in terrorism fatalities by 67 deaths per year during the same period.11 Counterterror efforts have weighed strategic actions that try to address the root causes of terrorism by providing incentives to all parties to reach agreement, with many conducting strategic studies to reduce terrorism.19 However, strategic defeat of terrorist organizations is rare, despite some notable successes (such as the Provisional IRA in Ireland and Aum Shinrikyo in Japan).4 As a consequence, tactical actions aimed at destabilizing terror networks are still necessary today.


 

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Reshaping Terrorist Networks from Steph Martinez .

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