March 2, 2017 —
Jytte Klausen, a Minerva-funded researcher at Brandeis University, has compiled a unique comprehensive database of networks and activities of Western Jihadists through an innovative integration of new interview techniques, media analytics, and network modeling, enabling identification of previously unknown relationships among radicalization processes, violent extremist organzations (VEOs), the networks among VEOS and their members, and their activities. The database includes Western nationals associated with terrorist plots related to Al Qaeda and aligned groups, including ISIS. Early analyses of these data documents a number of behavioral indicators associated with growing radicalization and suggest the individuals in a radicalizing person's network who may be best-positioned to detect these signs, although not all indicators are present for all individuals. Moreover early analyses indicate that radicalization tendencies are not confined to metropolitan areas, but rather rapidly diffuse outside urban zones, partly through social media. Importantly, however, modeling of the data suggests that attempts to suppress social media transmissions will not be effective and, in fact, will eliminate key signals that can be harnessed to detect emerging violent radicalists and plans for terrorist attacks.