National Security

Researchers Say They Can Predict Terrorist Behavior With More Than 90% Accuracy


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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Research scientists have devised a new framework that allows them to predict future terrorist actions with more than 90 percent accuracy.

Researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York, created the Network Pattern Recognition (NEPAR) Framework. NEPAR is a comprehensive system which can predict a terrorist’s future activity by defining and analyzing useful patterns of attack. By recognizing terrorist behaviors, the framework can help detect and prevent terrorist behaviors.

While U.S. intelligence agencies are remarkably capable, they cannot always use social media and telecommunications to discover future terrorist attacks. The NEPAR Framework helps fill the gap.

“Terrorists are learning, but they don’t know they are learning. If we can’t monitor them through social media or other technologies, we need to understand the patterns. Our framework works to define which metrics are important,” Binghamton University Ph.D student Salih Tutun told PsyPost in an article published Thursday.

Tatun examined similarities between terrorist attacks, such as those in Paris in 2015 and Sept. 11, 2001, for example. He then created networks by determining if there is any relationship.

“Maybe one attack in the past and another attack have a big relationship, but nobody knows. We tried to extract this information,” he explained.

Tutun, assisted by Systems Science and Industrial Engineering department head Mohammad Khasawneh, developed the framework by examining data on more than 150, 000 terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2015. He calculated the relationships among terrorist attacks, such as attack time and weapon type, and detected terrorist behaviors. The network uses the relationships between past terrorist attacks to uncover futures ones. When compared with the results of existing data, the new framework successfully predicted the characteristics of attacks with more than 90 percent accuracy.

Tutun’s new method is revolutionary, as past terrorist research has generally focused on the behavior of singular terrorists. Armed with the NEPAR, officials could implement policies to help defend against future attacks.

“Predicting terrorist events is a dream, but protecting some area by using patterns is a reality. If you know the patterns, you can reduce the risks,” said Tutun. “It’s not about predicting, it’s about understanding.”

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