Application of Social Network Analysis (SNA) to Terrorist Networks in Jammu & Kashmir

Sudhir Saxena was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi
K. Subrahmanyam was Director of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, New Delhi from 2001-2004.
Dr Aparna Basu has a PhD in plasma physics and has recognised contributions in scientometrics. She proposed the idea of using co-occurrence data in the T2 database to enter SNA.
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  • January 2004

    The paper presents initial results from a limited exercise to apply Social Network Analysis (SNA) methodology to the database on terrorism created in IDSA called Terrorism Tracker (or T2).
    T2 has been developed in-house. It uses systematic search for information on terrorist events from open sources including cyberspace, newswires and print reportage. This is followed by application of filters. It interfaces with standard commercial packages for data extraction from cyberspace as well as text mining from both structured and un-structured data. Classification of data into sub-groups for organisation-to- organisation, person-to-organisation and person-to-person network links has been automated. The present paper addresses organisation-to-organisation links of terrorist organisations operating in the Indian State of Jammu & Kashmir, through SNA.
    The SNA software package, Visone, developed in Germany, has been used with the T2 generation of “co-occurrence” pairs where organisations are cited together in an event during the period 2000 – 2003. This output was converted into an adjacency matrix to form the input to Visone for analysis and generation of linkage graphs. Among the number of network parameters in the Visone suite, we have studied Degree which is defined as the number of direct connections that a node in the network has with other nodes.
    We are of the view that the analysis performed by SNA is in line with our understanding of the phenomenon of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir. These techniques, additionally, offer effective graphic visualisation of the network. In some cases, e.g., Umma Tameer-e-Nau (a Pak NGO), the Visone output has revealed linkages which have existed in T2 but were not easily obvious in poring over the large volume of data.
    These initial findings appear to indicate that SNA or more broadly Graph Theoretic methods could be utilised in understanding terrorist networks. They appear, also, to provide a theoretical framework for understanding such networks. We believe that SNA application to terrorism is likely to be of utility to strategic analysts and information scientists; and, possibly, to agencies dealing with national security.

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