Building a model to catch terrorists


WASHINGTON, June 22, 2014 — Scientists are continually attempting to create models to predict behavior, for everything from predicting climate change to how much chocolate will be consumed over Easter.

Scientific models are data driven, and their power to show a trend depends on the quality of the data. All models start out crude and gain refinement with time, as more data is added.

Why not build a model to predict conflicts and the socioeconomic conditions that cause human beings to engage in acts of terror and war?

Before developing such a model, we must understand what it means to be a terrorist. There are numerous answers to what a terrorist is. Military hobbyist Jassen Benedict believes, “a terrorist is anybody who harms the innocents. When a mafia hit goes wrong and a bystander is shot they are terrorists at that moment; the key word is innocent.”

Such a definition is too broad, especially when dealing in matters of national security. Terrorists are people who use terror to achieve a political objectives. Shooting five bystanders is not the same in terms of national security as blowing up a bridge, even if nobody dies. Blowing up a bridge is a declaration of war. 9/11 was an invitation from al-Qaeda to Washington to open international hostilities.

It is possible to construct a model that predicts the potential rise of those who will partake in terrorism and from where they will come. A scientific model should be more effective in giving an idea of what is going on than the uncouth methods of opening people’s mail. There should be enough historical data for such a model, because humans have been at war for thousands of years.

What causes somebody to become angry enough to pick up a weapon and seek political gains by spilling blood? There are many factors, including income levels, income inequality, unemployment levels, and economic opportunity — economic variables. There are social variables, too: ethnicity, race and religion. There are other factors: availability of weapons, whether a people are occupied or not — South Sudan fought Sudan because they believed Sudan was an occupying force. Most ethnic tensions stem from this mind set.

As we are dealing with human beings, all variables should be similar in each and every situation, but their impacts will be different.

In dealing with national security issues, it is of vital interest to know what is going on around the world and the type of armed gangs that will be on the rise. The model must therefore cover every country in the world. This in no way takes out the human factor, which is still needed in determining the nature of the possible resistance, but the model will have helped in determining potential for rise of militants and in which area of a country the militants are likely to arise. Otherwise, what good is the model?

The model would be sociopolitical in nature to help policy makers understand the world better, especially now that the biggest threat to global peace is radical Islam. Radical Islam is plotting destruction from its hub in the Middle East all the way to China and across the Atlantic to North America. Very active in Kenya and Nigeria, it is a real threat to humanity moving forward as they want to take the world back in time. A major problem with radical Islam is that they read one book and believe that it contains all the knowledge in the world.

A quantitative model will reveal a lot about ourselves and help advise policy makers on domestic issues. For the model to work, data being slotted in has to be accurate or the whole thing will be a waste of money. It will show people’s truthful reaction to the ever increasing government, and what it shows might come as a shock and reality check for lawmakers.

Possibly the term “lawmaker” is wrong; rather, “representative of the people” is more accurate. When people believe their duty is to create laws instead of represent people, then the more bills the better. Government just keeps on increasing its powers and ever getting closer to some threshold increasing potential of militant reaction, and what a waste of resources that will be when a model would show the threshold is being crossed.

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