With increasing global concerns on terrorism, scientists have devised an e-response to terror by generating tens of thousands of likely behaviour patterns of major terrorist organisations, including Hezbollah and Hamas.
Researchers at the University of Marylands Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) have put these findings on an Internet portal giving access to experts to accurately forecast potential steps of terrorists after analysing their previous behaviour patterns.
Stochastic Opponent Modeling Agents (SOMA) has already prepared likely behaviour pattern of several terror outfits, including Hezbollah, Hamas and Hezb-I-Islami. In collaboration with computer experts and political scientists, it has found probability of each of the organisations taking certain actions in different situations.
SOMA Terror Organisation Portal (STOP) will automatically learn the rules that activities of terrorist outfits follow and will set up network to other analysts examining the same subjects, researchers say.
“SOMA is a significant joint computer science and social science achievement that will facilitate learning about and forecasting terrorist group behaviors based on rigorous mathematical and computational models,” Professor V S Subrahmanian of UMIACS, who heads the project, said.
The networking ability of the new computing system is considered to be highly conducive to the fight against terror, transcending the national boundaries, say researchers.
“It takes a network to fight a network. Analysts need to learn from other analysts. This system allows multiple users to arrive at a shared understanding of how a terror group operates and what it might do in the future,” said Aaron Mannes, a researcher at UMIACS.
“Using the queries, analysts can examine the underlying data and then, using the forecasting capabilities, test their theories,” he said, underlining the necessity of more than just piles of data for experts.
The unique STOP system, which also allows other experts to comment on any strategy, is being used by four defence agencies successfully in preparing combat methods against the terrorists. The availability of comments from other experts may sometimes help to find useful data and interesting rules, experts say.
The researchers, however, spoke for a multifaceted approach to find a solution of spiraling terror activities, as often there is a socio-economic background.
“But even the best science needs to work hand in hand with social scientists and users,” Subrahmanian says.
The project was funded by the US Air Force Office of Scientific Research.