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I don't find this idea of "self-organized groups following common
decision-making processes" all that surprising given that there are
extensive learning networks that connect many of these insurgencies and
terrorist groups. The core members of the RUF (Sierra Leone) trained in
Libya, as did the IRA as did the PLO. Iraqi insurgents use the IRA manuals
as training guides. The Taliban uses indoctrination techniques similar to
the Khmer Rouge, and so forth. Soviets trained Cubans trained Angolans.
Afghan mujahideen trained Southeast Asian insurgents. A common education
creates a common behavior.

-Robert Tynes
 SUNY/Albany



On Sat, Dec 19, 2009 at 3:25 PM, Ian McCulloh <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> ***** To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org ***** I have been studying
> patterns in terrorist and insurgent attacks since 2005.  In my
> investigation, the time between attacks almost always follows an exponential
> distribution.  The parameter of the distribution is affected by the
> geographic boundaries and what constitutes an "attack".  This work has been
> replicated many times by others.
>
> What is significant about this finding is the memoryless property, which
> means every time a patrol goes on a mission, they have the same probability
> of an attack.  The probability of an attack at time *t* is independent of
> previous missions.  Predicting a terrorist attack would be like predicting
> whether a major league baseball player will hit a home run or that I light
> bulb will burn out the next time you turn it on.  This is the same
> distribution that governs peoples arrival at a drive thru window at a fast
> food place, or customers arriving at the bank.
>
> If we take a closer look at any of these problems, we can find social
> explanations that hold more explanatory power.  For example, the
> inter-arrival time at the fast food place will be affected by whether it is
> lunch time or off-peak time.  In the same way, we must consider social
> factors in terrorism.  The alarming thing about the posting, is that just
> because you can fit a distribution to something, does not mean you can
> predict behavior.
>
> Ian
>
> Ian McCulloh, Ph.D.
> Major, U.S.Army
> Assistant Professor
> U.S. Military Academy
> West Point, NY 10996
>
>
> On Sat, Dec 19, 2009 at 1:30 PM, Bienenstock, Elisa <[log in to unmask]>wrote:
>
>> Interesting reading.
>>
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>
>>
>>
>>   <http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091216/full/462836a.html>
>> http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091216/full/462836a.html
>>
>>
>>
>>
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