This is an archive page that is no longer being updated. It may contain outdated information and links may no longer function as originally intended.
In the post-Sept. 11 era, criminal justice and homeland security professionals have been bombarded with a flood of studies on terrorism. Some of the best researchers in the field provide a practical session on evaluating terrorism studies. What should the inquisitive professional look for when presented with different methods? How can professionals publish what they see and engage experts in the field?
Presenter: John Picarelli, Social Science Analyst, International Center, National Institute of Justice
John Picarelli: I’d like to welcome you to this panel on “Terrorism Studies: Finding and Applying the Best Research.” This panel came together because of a very simple question that I think as researchers we often ask and as practitioners we often ask of researchers, and that question is: “So what?” There’s been a lot of terrorism research that has been done historically — that has been done in the 1980s and 1990s, and certainly since 2001 there has been a tremendous explosion of terrorism research that has been done. And the genesis of this panel was in reviewing a lot of this research and seeing a development of a broad array of approaches to terrorism. It was felt that it would be a good idea to maybe bring in some of the researchers and try and get at the question of “so what?” from a couple of different perspectives. So we should ask why should practitioners and the consumers of this research — why should they care about the way in which the research is conducted. What’s the difference between whether it was developed from a database or developed from fieldwork in various parts of the world? And then of course why should researchers — or how much should researchers be concerned about packaging the results for practitioners — and that’s what really started this selection of the speakers that you’ll hear from today.
So today what you’re going to hear are three researchers who are each approaching terrorism from a different perspective — but are doing it in very rigorously and scientifically correct ways. We’ll first hear from Michael Kenney who is an assistant professor of political science and a fellow at the international center for the study of terrorism at Penn State University, Harrisburg, who has approached terrorism more from a qualitative point of view, more from an ethnographic point of view — which is a very different way of approaching this scientifically because often times you don’t know what you’re going to find when you head out into the field, which can be very disconcerting because you honestly don’t know sometimes if you’re going to find anything. And yet Michael has been able to produce very interesting results about the ways in which terrorists organize and more importantly how terrorists learn from this type of research.
And then next we’re going to hear from Laura Dugan who is an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland and is with the START Center at the University of Maryland. And her focus will be from a different point of view — from a quantitative point of view from developing better databases that capture more of the incidence, more of the description of terrorism and therefore are able to test hypotheses, which more often than not lead to better questions, better results and a continuous cycle of learning about terrorism.
And then we’re going to hear from Richard Troy who’s with the Office of the Prime Minister in Ireland but has currently seconded to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Justice, Freedom and Security. And what he’s going to discuss is more, “OK, so we have research that comes to us from different perspectives — how do policymakers use this? How does this influence the policymaking approach in the European community — in the European commission — when they look at terrorism?”
So each will provide about 20 minutes worth of remarks. At the end of that hour we should have about 25 minutes left for questions and answers. So I hope that we’ll have not only questions on the substance of their talk and on what they’re presenting but also hopefully some questions about how did you come to these results. So without further ado I’m going to ask Michael to take the podium, and I will start the Q and A in about one hour. Thank you.
Presenter: Michael Kenney, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Fellow, International Center for the Study of Terrorism, Pennsylvania State University
Michael Kenney: Well, thank you. I’m delighted to be here this afternoon. Thank you for attending. As John mentioned in his intro, I’m one of these guys who likes to go overseas and meet interesting folks and ask them all sorts of interesting questions. What I want to present to you today is a slice of a larger research project that was funded by the National Institute of Justice. That research project, which is available online — the final report — as the NIJ publishes it on their various Web sites — is out there. This concerns one aspect of that research.
What happened was I was in Spain kicking around and doing interviews in Madrid, and this research I was interested in, organizational learning as experienced by Islamist militants. And in Spain I experienced some difficulty accessing informants of interest. Then I kept hearing about this place, Ceuta. And I decided, well — Ceuta — what’s going on in Ceuta? First of all, what is Ceuta?
The top of the slide — that is the Iberian Peninsula, the body of water. The bottom piece is Morocco. The body of water in between is the Strait of Gibraltar. Ceuta is right here. It’s a legacy of colonialism. In 1956 Spain gave much territory back to Morocco but they held onto a couple of cities — Ceuta and Melilla, as well as some other places. This is a contested territory in terms of Spanish and Moroccan relations. Morocco wants Ceuta back — as well as Melilla and some of the other territories — and Spain wants to keep it. More interestingly for this research, Ceuta and Melilla and some of the other territories have been identified by the jihadists as enemy territory that needs to be captured for the greater glory of re-establishing the Caliphate.
So I decided it might be interesting to go down there and try and do some fieldwork. As I mentioned this was part of a broader study — there is a link to it there. And this study is interested, as John mentioned, in how militants learn, how they gather information about their activities, what they do with that information once they have it, and whether or not at the end of the day they are capable of applying that knowledge and experience to improve their operations. These are cultural data that we’re talking about here. We’re not trying to understand how organizations function; we’re trying to understand how people within groups and organizations share information. And when you’re dealing with these sorts of cultural data, certain sampling methods are entirely appropriate — in this case non-probability sampling. But it’s important to keep in mind that when you engage in non-probability sampling, that has implications for the findings of your research. One of the things that I’ve tried to do in this study is lay my methodological cards out straight because in the field of qualitative research on terrorism, this isn’t always done, and it’s led to I think some problems with inferences that are made on the data. So I tried to lay this out.
These were some of the field methods that I used — that was the basic research design, and I’d be happy to talk about more of the specifics of that in the Q and A.
Why case studies? As John mentioned, a lot of this goes back to the sorts of research questions that you’re asking. Different methods are appropriate to different sorts of research questions. The research questions that I was interested in — understanding not necessarily the outcome of learning — that’s part of it — but really I’m a process guy. I want to unpack these organizations and understand the informational processes that take place within. Case studies are well-suited for that sort of approach. With case studies you can explore different propositions. You can try and explain different processes such as organizational learning. You can also try to dig deeper than say newspaper accounts, which are a primary source of data for many studies on terrorism. You can also seek to challenge existing interpretations, and that relates to the story that I’m about to tell you about Ceuta.
Again it’s important to keep in mind the different cases may not be representative of the larger universe of cases and depending on the sampling methods you use — in this case non-probability — you have to be very careful when you try to generalize. We tried to make inferences based on your data because some findings may not be “generalizable.” That doesn’t mean we can’t learn from case studies. Some cases are intrinsically important — the case study of al-Qaida is an important phenomena, or case studies of Colombian drug traffickers, which is how I got my start. Some cases are so important that even if they do represent extremes, policymakers and practitioners can benefit from better understanding these phenomena. And also I would agree with qualitative methodologists who argue that you can build theory through cross-case comparison.
So here we’re looking at one case that I would argue is not well-understood in the West — it’s definitely not well-understood in counterterrorism circles. And I’m talking about Príncipe Alfonso, Prince Alfonse. Príncipe Alfonso is in the circle — it is a neighborhood outside of the center of Ceuta — a couple of kilometers away. This is an aerial shot of Príncipe Alfonso. All of the photos that I show you are my photos unless you see a note: source, Guardia Seville in the lower right-hand corner, so that’s not my photo. That’s a helicopter photo. Most of the photos I’ll show you are mine, so I will highlight when they are not mine. This is just an aerial photo of Príncipe Alfonso — as you can see very concentrated — about 12,000 to 15,000 people live there. Most, if not all, of the residents are Muslims and it’s portrayed as the perfect incubator of radicalization; it’s portrayed as the source of grassroots jihadi networks.
Observers have pointed to the body as poverty, lack of strong government presence in the neighborhood. People talk how there are no public services, like, they point to the presence of what they would call the radical influence of Islam. So they would say there’s no beauty parlors there, which is important from that perspective because women — under strict interpretation of Islam — you’re not supposed to wear makeup, get your hair done, things like that. In general, Príncipe Alfonso is often referred to as the most dangerous neighborhood in Spain. And yet many of the people making these claims have not actually been there. This includes scholars that have studied Príncipe Alfonso and have published on Príncipe Alfonso, including leading scholars in Spain, such as this gentleman here — the lead author. And this is a report that his think tank came out with in November of 2006, which was a case study of the neighborhood — they didn’t do any field research there. I know; I interviewed him.
These are direct quotes from his report, “This district [meaning Príncipe Alfonso] is one of the most favorable for the jihadist recruitment in Spain.” Another direct quote, “Príncipe is with no doubt a ghetto. There is an abundance of graffiti in Príncipe, which transmits the message that everything is allowed.” They cite the broken windows, criminological theory. “Only one or two pairs of police officers patrol the district.” They say there is very little police presence because basically the police always get chased out. Not even urban buses — they say there’s no city buses that go into Príncipe Alfonso, nor can they come safely to it. Then they talk about the influence of radical Islam, “The existence of greater and formal control has been detected, especially one of Solophist orientation,” which they inherently interpret Solophism with radical Islam. They also suggest that moral squads may abound in the neighborhood.
In conclusion, they say the Príncipe Alfonso district is on its way to becoming an area controlled partially or totally by the radicals. Shortly after that report came out the police conducted an intensive counterterrorism operation in Príncipe Alfonso and some of the other barrios in Ceuta.
These are some news photos from that operation — it was Operation Duna. And this operation involving about 300 counterterrorism officials, police disrupted at the time what was considered an alleged jihadist group. That occurred in December, a month after that report came out. Origins of this conspiracy were traced to a radical Imam and the Darkawia mosque, one of the mosques in Príncipe — I’ll show you a picture of that. It’s considered a classic case of grassroots jihadism, or homegrown terrorism. All the members except one were born in Ceuta, most of them lived in Príncipe, two of those arrested were brothers of Hamed Abderrahman — he was the one Spanish citizen who was imprisoned in Guantànamo Bay — one of the reasons I went to Ceuta was to try and interview him.
One of the interesting aspects of this case is it speaks to the challenge of counterterrorism law enforcement — what the police found, what they captured in the operation — an air gun, a machete, some documents related to jihadist interpretation of Islam, four laptop computers, a bunch of cell phones. They didn’t find any guns. They found no explosives. They found no chemical precursors for making explosives. They found no detailed surveillance of possible targets — essentially it was a group of angry young men talking.
After Operation Duna, a couple of months later, this article came out in the “Terrorism Monitor.” How many folks in this room are familiar with the “Terrorism Monitor,” just out of curiosity? OK, it’s actually fairly influential in counterterrorism circles. It’s produced by “The Jamestown Monitor” — fairly influential publication. You can see from the title and this was the cover article, “The Threat of Grassroots Jihadi Networks: A Case Study From Ceuta.” Really what they’re interested in is Príncipe Alfonso, like the previous report, no fieldwork. For their data, they are completely relying on news reports, which again piqued my curiosity. I was like, is everything that I’m hearing about this neighborhood, is it true? Why is nobody going down there and doing fieldwork on the ground asking these sorts of questions?
So like John said, you know qualitative research, you go in there with one set of questions — stuff happens on the ground — like hey, let me check it out. You know, this is too important to ignore. So I went in there, OK, spent in total about three weeks to a month in the community. Went in there just about every day — intensive field site visits — day after day I went in, walked around, met with community members, met with Imams, mosque administrators, Islamic activists, met with members of Tablighi Jamaat, met with local community members, met with police officers who worked Príncipe Alfonso. One of the guys tell me, “we’re here—we’re working.” Met with journalists. Again, those were some of the methods.
So what did I find? I want you to keep in mind the earlier characterization that I gave you —ghetto, lots of graffiti, poverty. These are my pictures of Príncipe Alfonso.
Here’s some graffiti I saw. I saw this a couple of times, basically it means traitor, snitches — was never able to figure out exactly what it referred to — there were a couple of different theories when I asked informants. I saw one anti-Semitic scribble. I saw no — surprisingly — no anti-U.S. graffiti. I saw some anti-Moroccan graffiti in the city proper — the center of Ceuta.
This is one of the mosques in Príncipe Alfonso — the Prince mosque. You can see how clean and well-kept these areas are. This is the mosque that was implicated — the radical Imam that supposedly helped create the jihadist group from Operation Duna. Again this is just me walking around the community. That’s a taxicab driver — right there, that gentleman there. If you can see him, he’s taking me around there that day. This was my first day in there. I got off the boat, got a taxicab driver and went right over. This is just one of the main streets, some satellite dishes. There’s about 10 satellite dishes on top of that apartment building. I don’t know — it takes money to buy a satellite dish, whether you’re living here or there. You know, I didn’t want to take a lot of photos of people because I had some bad experiences in Madrid with some prominent terrorism researchers. So I wanted to respect people’s space and privacy. So you’re not going to see a lot of photos of people, but what this one does show you is typical Western dress. I mean most people are walking around in Western dress, including many women. Women walking around in jeans, many women wearing robes, but colorful robes. I saw virtually no burkas in Príncipe Alfonso — I saw a lot more burkas in London than I did in this neighborhood.
The earlier characterization about no social services — this is the Centro Integral in Principe Alfonso. Did some interviews in there. They provide job training for local residents. Another social services provider in the neighborhood. No buses? Here’s a bus — I saw plenty of buses. I also saw a military and police presence but that’s a video and I can’t show you a video — I captured them on a video. It was completely accidental — I wasn’t looking for them; they just happened to be driving by when I was ... This is a beauty shop — I went in and hit there — interviewed the woman who works there. She was telling me about her business, very interesting. So the idea that there is no beauty parlors — there are beauty parlors there. There are also a bunch of barbershops.
Again, so here are some quotes from actual interviews with community members. These are direct quotes. “I live here, and I don’t agree that all young men are involved in the radical wing of Islam — we’re Muslims, not radicalists. This sort of characterization does a lot of harm. The newspapers sell sensationalism. This is hurting the good name of many people. There are 12,000 people here — we’re talking about a few that were involved (like in Duna). The reason for this is because we’re Muslims.”
There are social problems, many people talked about the lack of employment, lack of physical infrastructure. People get alarmed when they read in the press or watch television reports — but when they visit and see for themselves, they are not alarmed. There are some religious associations, I mentioned the Tablighi Jamaat, OK? But this has nothing to do with terrorism.
So, what did I take away from my fieldwork there? Well this is a ghetto — I’ve been to the favelas in Rio, kicked around Colombia — some interesting places — if that’s a ghetto, that’s the cleanest, most well-maintained ghetto I’ve ever seen. There were really few external signs of radicalization — I think you got that sense from some of the photos that I showed you. Women in all sorts of dress, again, no burkas, but there were beauty parlors. Local residents insist they — the neighborhood has a bad reputation. People don’t deny the problems. They say there are problems, but they say the neighborhood is not as bad as often depicted. There is no single Muslim community there. It’s communities — diversity. You got your Malikis, you got your Salafis, members of the Tablighi Jamaat — all sorts of folks. Some are orthodox, many are not. What you do see is the community of Príncipe Alfonso is marginalized, and there is little trust in the Spanish government. And yes, there are angry young people in Príncipe Alfonso, as you might find in Madrid, Barcelona — in fact, Manuel Navarrete made this point in an interview — not with me — but with “Frontline.” He’s talking about Ceuta here in this interview — this is a leading counterterrorism official in Spain — this wasn’t my interview. It’s not me asking — it’s a totally different person, and he’s basically saying the same thing. You can read it for yourself.
This is an interesting picture of an old guard outpost at the top of the hill. You can see, it underscores a theme I want to illustrate — you can see it says “Viva Osama” and then underneath, most of which is scratched out, is the word “cabrón,” which is a dirty word in Spanish. So what does this mean? What does this mean? Is that support for Osama bin Laden or not? This is one of the challenges of this sort of fieldwork — I’ll get back to that in a minute. But another lesson from the field, you know, methodology — research methodology. And so when you read something in the “Terrorism Monitor,” you should be asking yourself, “What’s the method behind that?” You know? If this guy is doing a qualitative case study, and he hasn’t done any fieldwork — I don’t know, in my book that raises a red flag.
The value of ethnography — being able to dig deeper than the news reports. And ultimately you want to be able to inform counterterrorism policy, OK? In this case we need to stem the marginalization in the community, and there’s a number of policy interventions that follow from that.
And then the picture on this slide — there’s a famous story I don’t have time to get into — turtles all the way down. It’s a famous quote from the anthropologist Clifford Geertz. Basically his point was, the deeper you dig, the more uncertain you become. How do we know what that photo means? It could mean, “Long live Osama — you’re the best — go Osama.” Or, it could mean, “Osama, you’re an as***** — get out of here.” The inherent uncertainty of the ethnographic enterprise. We got to get it right though. We got to get it right for their sake.
That’s my young daughter who was with me while I conducted fieldwork — and as well as my wife was. And that is the young boy of a key informant who was helping me in the community and they had a great time playing together. And these are some of the things that I’ve drawn on preparing this presentation. OK, I’m out of time. Thank you.
Presenter: Laura Dugan, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park
Laura Dugan: ... comes with generalizations. It would be hard to tell the story beyond the actual context of which the study was done. With quantitative research and terrorism, where we would have problems is we would have some serious problems getting into the actual story of what has happened.
I’m going to be presenting some research findings from the START Center that are based on several databases that are quantitative databases. And what it basically does is it does gives you a broad generalization but it leaves a lot — it’s going to also raise some ambiguity in which we will need some qualitative research like Michael’s to actually understand some of the guts of what has been happening. And so what my understanding of what this panel does is shows you both extremes, and I would hope that it encourages you to have an appreciation for both — and why we need both in order to more fully understand the context of terrorism.
I am with the START Center at the University of Maryland. And the START Center, for those who may not know, is the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, and it’s funded by the Department of Homeland Security, and I believe we’re in our sixth or seventh year.
One of the things that we’ve been doing is we’ve been compiling data sets on terrorism. In fact, I can honestly say that the START Center probably is in existence because of this first data set that I have on this slide. It’s the global terrorism database and it all started with 57 shoeboxes full of index cards that documented terrorism originally from 1970 to 1997. My colleague, Gary LaFree, and I worked with a lot of students to compile those electronically. In fact, the original grant that compiled this data was funded by the National Institute of Justice. And it’s a phenomenal data set because it collects both information on every terrorist attack worldwide, regardless of whether the attack was international or domestic in nature.
Why this is a big deal is that all other attempts to collect data on terrorist attacks during this period only focused on international attacks, meaning that the perpetrator, the victim or the country had to be from some other nation. And to give you an example of why that’s a big deal — according to several studies and we find in our own data — the ratio of international to domestic attacks is about 1:7, so for every one international attack there are about seven domestic attacks. So we were only seeing part of the picture. Since then we’ve worked at the START Center to continue this collection and we’ve actually just released data up until 2007, and at the end of this presentation I’ll show you how you can actually see this data for yourself, which is why the man was fiddling with wires around me.
So this is the data that I know really, really well. However, I was asked to give presentations on quantitative research in this area — not just the GTD — so I’m going to talk a little bit about two other data sets and show you some findings that I didn’t do myself so I know a little less about them. But the data sets are really great, particularly the second one — it’s called “Minorities at Risk Organizational Behavior” — it’s “MAROB.” And what it does is it gets at the question of which types of organizations are more likely to become radicalized and which ones aren’t. And so this is part of a larger effort called “Minorities at Risk,” which looks at ethnic minorities around the world, and it collects information about these different ethnic minorities. But this particular one uses open source data to collect information on organizations that are part of those groups, so they call groups the ethnic minorities, and then they call organizations the actual organizations they belong to. And these organizations may or may not be violent. In fact, only a small percentage of them are. This particular data collection starts in 1980 and they finished collecting in the Middle East up to, I believe 2007, but I can’t be entirely sure about that. And they’re now starting to collect this information in South America and Europe. And they’re also part of a larger grant where we’re going to be integrating across all these data sets where they’re going to be expanding beyond just ethnic groups and look at other types of groups as well, so it’s a very exciting effort.
The third source of data — and there’s actually many sources of data but these are the three I’m going to present on today — I actually know the least about. We have sent researchers into several countries in the Mideast and interviewed people with a probability sample and asked them specific questions about their beliefs and their ideals. And I’m going to give you some of those findings — their ideas and beliefs toward terrorism and toward violence, this type of violence, to get a sense of “do these people really endorse this type of violence?”
This I think is a pretty important slide, and it really could be a dissertation in and of itself, and I’ve limited it to just eight bullets. But it usually says strengths and weaknesses, and I start with weaknesses so I can end on strengths. All of the data that I’ve described, except for the interviews, come from open source data, which means that the media need to report a terrorist attack in order for the attack to be in the data set. And we’ve worked really hard to capture all of the attacks that are in the media; however, there’s also weaknesses or limitations that we’re able to find. In essence, what the GTD is, and also the Minorities at Risk is, it’s an effort to collect 100 percent of everything that has happened, which is different from a lot of other quantitative methods, or quantitative data sets. A lot of quantitative data sets — except for things like the UCR — actually collect a sample of what’s happened and because of the efforts that we make to randomize that sample, then we can generalize to the greater population. But we’re actually trying to get a census of this. And because of that we’re reliant on the media, which means that we’re also vulnerable to the biases that the media is vulnerable to. And we take great effort to educate people on these biases so if you see that there’s less terrorism, for instance, in North Korea, which our data says there is, it might be that the media might not be reporting much about what’s going on in North Korea.
You’ll see — I’m actually talking longer because I prepared for 15 minutes, now I have 20, but now I’m probably way too long — if you look at the global terrorism database there is a lot less terrorism in the ’70s than in the ’80s, which is probably true, but there’s also a difference in how data — media sources during those same periods of time, although the earlier data was all prospectively collected. These are things that we’re trying to research into. However, jumping down to the last bullet on the second column, this is really the best we have and it gives us an overall idea of what’s going on, keeping these potential biases in mind. So we do get an idea of what the over-arching patterns of terrorism are and this, in and of itself, is very exciting.
We encourage anyone who’s using the data to be very sensitive to these sorts of things so that they don’t screaming off the mountain tops some big findings that turn out to be just some sort of data bias that’s inherent in the data. But regardless of that, I’m going to move on.
So how I structured this presentation is I basically wanted to give an example of a research question that can be asked of each of these databases. Now, I actually have a really long presentation just on research that’s been done on the GTD alone, which I didn’t bring today, but this is the one I picked, and I think it’s a very important one.
How well do our counter-terrorists efforts work at reducing terrorist violence? I think that’s something that we all want to ask and it’s something that I especially am interested in. This is a project that we did on Republican terrorism in Northern Ireland, and this actually only goes from 1969 to 1992. And you can see the black line shows you the trend of terrorism during that period, and these again are only Republican attacks — all organizations that are affiliated with the IRA. And the vertical line shows attempts by the British government to thwart this terrorism. So there was false curfew, which was early in the series; Operation Motorman, which was the surge in activity; criminalization; internments; and a couple of targeted assassinations, which are near the end. Now what we did with this data, is we actually used a type of modeling that we actually developed to look at this type of thing — this type of hazard modeling that basically tests for the effects of these six strategies on terrorist activity and what we were able to do is we were able to control for all of the other policies so all of the findings held constant — the other policies that were intact at the place at that time. We also looked at Loyalist activities, so there’s some competition in terrorism by British Loyalists in the area. We looked at the number of fatalities in the current incident, and then also some more broader indicators like economic indicators and the homicide rate to get a sense of what the violence was like at that particular time. Then we also controlled for Bloody Sunday, which was not an intervention, but it was obviously very important.
I’m just going to give you some broad findings. What this slide presents are hazard ratios for each of the interventions. The baseline here is one and what one means is that there was no effect — it means the hazard is the same whether the intervention happened or not. If the bar is above one, what that means is that the intervention was actually related to an increase in the hazard of continued terrorist attacks. If it’s below one, that means it was related to a decrease. And what we find here — and these are actually just five interventions, the sixth had a little bit of a different effect, and I’ll show you that in a minute — but you can see false curfew, and it was basically insignificant so I just said that it was one instead of showing the magnitude. So, false curfew didn’t seem to have any effect whatsoever. But three of these five actually had a positive effect, which meant that there was more terrorism related to these attempts to actually reduce terrorism. The only one that seemed to have a negative effect, which is the desired effect, was Operation Motorman. I actually am not showing you the other one. The other one was more of a curvilinear relationship, but in an effort to make this 15 minutes ...
What lesson is this? And this is actually some findings that have been found elsewhere — basically the lesson is, is that sometimes — pardon my reading, but it’s important that you get this — sometimes efforts to reduce terrorism can make things worse. More research is needed to understand the full range of countering strategies from repressive to conciliatory and to understand which types of organizations are more receptive to which strategy. And this actually also opens the way as to why it’s important to have qualitative research to get in there and interview some people to find out exactly what the responses were. And there’s actually a lot of evidence from Northern Ireland, in fact one IRA member was saying that the British government is one of their best recruiters because of some of the activities that they conducted during this period. And so to piggyback on that, one of the efforts that I’m actually leading is we’re starting to collect detailed information on counterterrorism in countries throughout the world with a vision of having a global counterterrorism database — but to look at the full range of activities, not just the repressive types of activities, but the more conciliatory types to see which strategies are best for which types of organizations in which setting. It’s ambitious, but it really needs to be done.
The next example research question is one that has been asked and directed toward the MAROB data set: What organizational characteristics are associated with a higher likelihood that the ethnic organization will engage in terrorist violence?
The next slide that I’m showing you is one that I really like. This was actually compiled by Victor Asal and his colleague, and what it does is it looks at different organizations in the data and looks at alliances between organizations. So you may be familiar with this type of a graph — it’s a social network graph. From this type of analysis what we were able to find is that there is a relationship between the number of alliances and the probability of having an anti-U.S. action. And what you can see, if you look toward the bottom is that the higher the alliances, the greater possibility that there will be violence directed toward the U.S.
Another set of findings from this data set — and these are just general, and these are just asking the questions: Which organizations are more likely to use terrorism? And which ones are less likely to use terrorism? At the first bullet you can see that those that are less likely to use terrorism have a democratic ideology, and they only have a domestic presence — so those that are just focused on democracy within their own country are less likely to become violent. However, those that are more likely to use terrorism, they experience periodic or constant state repression, they have foreign support, they have a separatist goal, they have a religious ideology and they have no democratic ideology. So this gives you a sense of some of the things we have found with this data, or those people have found.
The last data set is the international survey and this is what I was referring to earlier. And the overall question is: Do citizens of the Middle Eastern countries feel that terrorist violence is justified?
The first set of findings that I want to present to you basically asks: How justified are attacks on civilians that are carried out in order to achieve political goals? And these were asked of people in Morocco, Egypt, Pakistan and Indonesia. And when we look at these findings what we see is that pretty much most people in these countries do not think that this type of terrorism is justified. Morocco is a little bit different from the rest, but for the most part you see an overarching pattern of a very, very small percentage think it’s justified or strongly justified, and a little bit larger think it’s just regular justified.
Then the next question that was asked is: Is there support for attacks on U.S. troops based in the Persian Gulf? And what we find is that these results are very different. While most people do not feel it’s justified to attack civilians, there is some strong justification for attacking U.S. troops based in the Persian Gulf. This is especially true for Egypt and Morocco, and somewhat Pakistan, and a little less in Indonesia.
Now as promised, I have about two minutes left and I wanted to show you — if you go to www.start.umd.edu/GTD or just Google “START” or “GTD” you’ll get right to this Web page. This is our new interface that was just released — fingers crossed. We literally just got it running last week, even though we pretended we had it running a month ago. ... [off-microphone discussion] ...
So you all have the Web site and one of the things that this Web site shows you — when you get to it, it’s really gorgeous, and I was going to wow you with it all; I hope you were wowed enough with what I gave. But write down that Web address and I encourage you to peruse it. It’s actually very user-friendly, and again you’ll get an overarching sense of what terrorism looks like. www.start.umd.edu/GTD — Global Terrorism Database.
Presenter: Richard Troy, Department of Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Dublin, Ireland
Richard Troy: Good afternoon. I’ll just start by thanking Ed and John for facilitating my participation here today. Basically what I’m going to talk to you about ... I’ll give you a bit of background information and contextual information in relation to the European Union and the European commission in particular, just for those of you who aren’t experts in European integration since 1955. I’ll just follow that up with a bit ... it’s quite fortuitous that I’m here at the moment because we’ve had a couple of events in the last seven days, which have really become a turning point in terms of our policy and activities in the area of justice and home affairs. One of those being that we are in the process of adopting our next five-year plan — that’s how we do it in Europe, we have five-year plans — called a Stockholm program. And the other one, it was a quote from our President of the European Commission [José Manuel] Barroso, just in terms of improving cooperation and reciprocal activities between the U.S. and the EU in the area of security and security research.
So anyway, a bit of background ... also I was just interested on a personal note, I was just interested in terms of your reference to Northern Ireland. Obviously that’s quite close to my heart, especially say, on an ethnographical level — I would have relied on my father telling me stories of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings and his experiences with a couple of buses being blown up on the quays in Dublin and how that affected a couple of the drivers that he knew. And also in terms of the process towards reconciliation, which was facilitated in no small part by Senator [George] Mitchell, and yeah, it’s interesting how those aspects of research are very important. Anyway ... to detail.
I’m just going to talk about the institutional framework — this is all about context so when I go on to research priorities I’ll try and intersperse it with a couple of notes on the quantitative and qualitative research that has been discussed here to fore.
Basically there are three parts to our institutional framework. European Council, which is all of the heads of state of government get together and make all of the big legislative decisions. Below them we have a Council of the European Union, which is all the ministers from the 27 member states — these are the 27 nations which comprise the European Union. For example, the ministers of justice would get together. Associated with that — just to let you know, it’s 50 years old — 27 member states — we’ve got about, approaching 500 million European citizens. And this framework, just to let you know, that this, basically, European legislation accounts for almost 75 percent of all the legislation, which is crossing domestic legislation tables in the member states. Forty percent of which, of European legislation, is JHA — Justice and Home Affairs legislation. Anyway, we also have the European Parliament, which is approaching 740 directly elected representatives. This is an interesting area in terms of ... we have a Lisbon Treaty coming up which is the next stage of development of our European Union. We’re waiting on the Irish electorate to say “yes” or “no” to this treaty before it goes ahead. If it does go ahead, basically the European Parliament will have more powers and more say in the area of justice and home affairs. And to an extent it’s seen as a counterbalance in the area of data privacy and protection and their fundamental rights. Anyway, that’s the European Parliament.
The European Commission — that’s where I’m from — basically this is the policy center. We spew out all of the legislation that has to be digested by the other two institutions and then has to be transposed by the various member states. So anyway, within the European Commission, there are director generals, that’s the DG there — and we’re called DGJLS, the “L” is the French for “freedom” (liberté), so that’s justice, liberté, security. So anyway, where we’re moving, this is just an overview of our work. We cover these various areas. So what you could say — for a comparison with your administration — we’re an amalgam of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice because we cover right across the board.
We have the following agencies which are under my DG’s responsibility. Frontex, which is kind of border management, a fundamental rights agency, which is based in Vienna. Obviously the name — it does what it says what it does on the tin. Eurojust is not an agency; it’s an office that looks at cross-border judicial cooperation. Europol for police and CPOL for police training. Just in relation to what Laura was saying about that MAROB [Minorities at Risk Organization Behavior], the fundamental rights agency who just released the MIDUS survey, which again is a survey which looks at ethnic minorities’ experience of justice and home affairs within the European Union. So again, it would be an interesting complement to the quantitative research that’s going on in that MAROB database.
Anyway, so the approach that we’re taking — and I’m talking about approach because how we approach also will dictate what kind of research we want as we go forward. As I say, just a caveat, before I dive into the Stockholm program ... This is, we’ve made our submission to the council in the European Parliament. There will be another six months of negotiations and discussions around this draft document before it’s ratified and accepted. But anyway, the draft is a public document; therefore, I can discuss it in a public forum. Just to let you know the main focus — if any of you go into that — policymakers over here would be obviously interested in that document. The first thing you’ll know when you have to look at that document — it is very value driven and citizen centered. This is, our commissioner, Commissioner [Jacques] Barrot, who’s a French man, has taken it as a priority for himself to kind of reorient and bring the values of the European Union in terms of integration back to the center of the debate and also to bring citizen in terms of accountability right to the center of the debate as well.
Anyway I will give you just a couple of facts and figures just to give you a bit more context of the environment we’re working in as policymakers. Basically what we’ve got ... We have 8 million people who are nationals of one member state living in another member state. We have 3.8 percent of our population, which is 18.5 million people, who are legally residents in other countries outside of the European Union. We have an estimated 8 million illegal residents within the EU borders, and obviously estimates always err on the conservative side so it’s a real black box of a figure, that one — an interesting area for research. In terms of designated points of entry — this is an interesting figure, I’d love to shake the hand of the man or the woman who counted them all — we have 1,636, which are legally designated entry points. You’re talking about the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa all the way up to the northwest coast of Ireland in terms of all points of entry. So we have a huge geographical spread in that respect.
So I think in terms of those statistics what they contribute would be to the overwhelming characteristics of the European Union would be seen as mobility and permeability — permeability of course in terms of borders. So when you cross reference those figures with the fact that in 2007 we have records in relation to 600 failed, filed or successful terrorist attacks in 11 of our 27 member states, and then you add to that the structural demographic pressures concerning aging populations and labor market needs, and I will give you an insight into why we need research, why we need research really quickly, how it’s such a complex area to work in, and why people who work there get gray hair really quickly, essentially.
So that really looks at the context. The Stockholm, I’ve kind of talked about what that’s about ... In terms of the raison d’être of the EU and the need to develop an EU internal security, which is the next stage, we had a temporary five-year program that was followed in 2004 by The Hague program. What they were, were essentially to-do lists. What we’re doing now is we’re moving into the next phase, and we want to produce a consolidated and coherent way forward. And that’s why we’re looking at developing an EU internal security strategy. So again, that’s on the table as a proposal, but we’re putting down a marker in terms of how we want to contribute and add value to citizen mobility, etc., and security, of course. So again with this coherence and with this promotion of an internal security strategy, we’ll need more and better research.
OK, so essentially, with these next two bullets, I’ll just glide over them — enhancing operational cooperation. That’s how... we don’t have direct influence in terms of how member states carry out policing operations and investigations. In relation to, so what we want to do there is we want to just enhance and facilitate in terms of technology and quality of research data we can provide them. In that respect, Michael, Michael’s reference to the counterterrorism coordinator in Madrid is very relevant in terms of he would be one of our key clients in terms of how we need to furnish him with the best and most credible and objective type of research into counterterrorism. Again, given that in relation to the last bullet on extern policy, we’re looking at the area of say human security, where crisis prevention in the far-flung places does have a knock on and ripple effect in terms of waves of immigration coming into the European Union and the destabilizing effects that can potentially have. So again, given that we’re, globally we’re the greatest donor of official external aid, we need to hook into the work that’s being done there and make sure that we can optimize the investment that we have in the EU as a whole. So again, this is where a kind of research of a qualitative nature into operations that we’re conducting in Central Africa or the Far East in terms of how successful our programs are at managing the internal dynamics of affected communities in these places is very essential in terms of how we can, one, target those successful programs in other areas. I mean basically we have 13,000 people deployed across the globe working in various operations. So that’s a lot of work that’s ongoing; that’s a lot of research that needs to be looked at.
So anyway, the activities, I’m not going to focus too much on this because I think essentially the areas that I’m covering here are state of the art. All that I would say in relation to this, is that, basically you’ve got two categories here — the first three bullets ... I would say they’re basically known unknowns, in terms of we know there’s a lot of research being done in — this is in relation to research — we know there’s a lot of research being done out there. Say for example the work that Michael’s just been doing, which is looking at militancy, which is essentially radicalization and recruitment. We need to hook into that; we need to channel that into the practitioners in the field. And also terrorist financing and extremist use of the Internet would fall under that rubric.
The second one is more a known known. What we’re looking at here is that we just need to kind of map these areas and apply risk methodologies and threat assessment methodologies to these areas. So again, that’s another area.
Again, OK, the more meaty stuff ... These are our research priorities. You can apply these and say, well, integration identity politics obviously applies to radicalization and recruitment. We need to tap into a lot of qualitative work that’s been done in the area. Also in terms of financial flows and transactions, information hubs and flows — again, the work that Laura referred to — just that particular glaring slide on the social networks — that’s very relevant here. What we’re looking at is an interest in interdisciplinary work. Previously interdisciplinary work would be considered as mixing law with international relations, but based on the work of a couple of chaps in Cornell University on the small world problem, you’re looking at an interdisciplinary area which would be looking to map criminology, criminal behavior, with physics, and also that applies to the area of financial flows and transactions and how that links into terrorist financing. Also what we want to do is build on work that’s been carried out in the area of money laundering. Again, information hubs and flows — this links into extremists’ use of the Internet. An area of concern for us within the European Union is the rise of extremists, right-wing extremism, and how they’re using the Internet, how we can look at the hubs and flows in terms of the technological development on the Internet and how that can help us.
In this respect, I think there’s a nice segue in terms of exactly what Laura said that the quantitative research provides—orientates to compass points, and will lead us to where we need to invest in terms of our many financial instruments and funding opportunities in terms of the more qualitative dimensions. And how we need to kind of ... once we know where it is, we need to explode — we need to explode, mates, yeah, in terms of what you are saying about the sensationalism of the media report. For example, some of the policy briefs that would pass our tables, you know they would be highly influenced by the press. We need to go deeper down, down, down, deeper down — I think that’s a song by somebody. But that’s where we need to go; we need to provide more in-depth research to our decision-makers. So in that respect there’s a nice complement there.
Another thing I would say in relation to that GTD ... I was very impressed with Laura’s presentation and also Gary’s yesterday ... I think Gary covered a number of questions that you didn’t, which were the more basic questions, and in that respect that quantitative research that’s been done is a useful corrective to basically giving a majority to our security policies as we go forward. So I think that’s a good way.
Anyway — traceability and vulnerability — I’m going to wrap up in a little bit now in a minute. Traceability and vulnerability, I mean, we need to cooperate with the private sector in terms of securing chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials, which can be used for explosive devices.
The last one is the really hard nut to crack, which is foresight. And in terms of how we want to approach this and the kind of research that we’d like to assist us with foresight — I would say functional and instrumental would be the two words there. Unfortunately in the past, foresight exercises have been tainted, as was referred to a previous speaker yesterday with ideological outlooks and stuff. So we need to kind of bring foresight activities down to the basic level. What we need to do is we need to look at demographics, population movements, developments in technology — these are the things we need to bring together; we need to apply them to an appropriate context. And that’s what research needs to provide us with. This is the work that I’m involved with at the moment in terms of developing appropriate ways forward in terms of foresight, so yeah, that’s it ... I’m really going to conclude.
I just think I have another couple of points from general notes that I’ve taken — I know I probably at the pink marker here now — but I think really what we need as well as policymakers in terms of, I mean, fair play with the research that you’ve carried out, but if that’s to land on my table I would say I haven’t got time to look at process — give me the facts and figures; give me the executive summary that I can hand up to our political decision-makers; give me the more basic stuff which I can give over to the practitioners in the field. Give me information that I can easily transfer and easily demonstrate in a conference environment or a seminar environment such as like that. But it’s a fine balance, because I mean, research ... I’ll give you an example, and I’ll conclude on this. We have two types of instruments: we have a call for proposals, whereby we have a very general heading. We invite calls in so researchers have a lot of scope in that respect. Then on the other one we have a call for tenders, where I prepare a terms of reference, which is very detailed, and it will say I want A, B, C, D, E and F. And I want 12,000 words, a 1,000-word executive summary, etc., annexes on A, B, C, D and E, and that’s grand. And that kind of encapsulates the kind of the balancing that we have because we can’t speak directive, but yet we need the research to support our policy initiatives. So I think one of the general themes I’m getting from this conference as a whole is the need for cross pollination between researchers providing good research to the policymakers and policymakers feeding that back in terms of how they feel it is, how it is supporting their policy work, and how it’s providing them with one, either the right questions, or two, the answers in the right format. I’ll conclude on that. Thank you.
Opinions or points of view expressed in these recordings represent those of the speakers and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice. Any commercial products and manufacturers discussed in these recordings are presented for informational purposes only and do not constitute product approval or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Justice.