The Big Allied and Dangerous (BAAD) dataset has its roots in the summer of 2005 as a project led by Victor H. Asal (Political Science) and R. Karl Rethemeyer (Public Administration and Policy) of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, University at Albany, State University of New York. Asal and Rethemeyer sought to build a database containing organizational and network data on modern terrorist organizations. While several datasets existed at that time that contained information on terrorist incidents (see, for instance, the International Terrorism: Attributes of Terrorist Events, or ITERATE, dataset - http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/DSDR/studies/07947), no unclassified, global dataset on terrorist organizations was available at that time. The original coders for the project were Ian Anderson and Nick Ference. The original dataset – Big Allied and Dangerous Version 1 – contained information for the period 1998-2005. The time period corresponded to the limits in the main source for BAAD1, the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism’s Terrorism Knowledge Base (MIPT-TKB). MIPT-TKB had information on both international and domestic terrorist organizations and incidents, but only beginning with the year 1998.
Once the first stage of data collection was complete, the project sought to mitigate apparent limitations of the data and make it more robust by adding information from other academic sources and datasets such as ITERATE, Global Terrorism Database (GTD), Military Balance, and a panel of experts from the Monterrey Institute of International Studies (now known as the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey). Eventually enough data was gathered that Rethemeyer was able to perform a network analysis on the relational data. The first question examined focused on factors that led to increased lethality of terrorist organizations. Size and network connections emerged as two of the most important predictors. This finding – that focused on size and connections – generated the name: Big Allied and Dangerous. The final “production” version of BAAD1 contained information on terrorist groups active during the period 1998-2005. The data was organized as a single cross-section, with both organizational and network data available. Much of this research was funded through the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence established after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
While BAAD1 proved fruitful (more than 14 papers, book chapters, and reports have been published to date using the data), the cross-sectional nature of BAAD1 imposed severe limitations, particularly with respect to examining the relationships between terrorist behavior and terrorist network formation. BAAD2, which began in 2010, is the continuation of this project. BAAD2 is organized as a longitudinal dataset, with yearly time slices for the period 1998-2012 (with additional years to come as resources permit). The scope of inclusion is also more broadly defined. BAAD2 includes both terrorist and insurgent organizations, which are under the term “violent non-state actors”. Relying on the Global Terrorism Database, the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP), and the Profiles of Incidents involving CBRN by Non-state Actors (POICN) Dataset BAAD2 seeks to code information on every organization that was credited with either (a) one or more attacks in the GTD over the period 1998-2012, and/or (b) 25 or more battle deaths in the UCDP Battle Deaths dataset, and/or (c) at least one attempt to use or acquire a chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapon between 1998 and 2012 according to the POICN dataset.
BAAD2 also started afresh in terms of coding. Instead of drawing primarily on the semantic data from MIPT-TKB data, BAAD2 relies on de novo coding using multiple sources, including newspapers, magazines, verified websites, books, academic articles, government reports, and work by associated researchers. Lexis-Nexis is one of the key data providers for the coders employed on the project.
As of October 2015, coding is complete for 140 UCDP organizations and another 135 large violent non-state actors that have killed at least 10 people. More than 400 additional organizations are currently in the quality control process. This coding is expected to be complete by the end of 2016. The website will be updated periodically as we write more narratives and finish coding data. The current website does not represent all the groups in BAAD and we will continue adding groups as they are prepared.
Funding for BAAD
The BAAD dataset and platform development were funded through START by grants from the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Office of University Programs. Additional funding for the development of the dataset was provided by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Office of Naval Research, the National Science Foundation, and the University at Albany’s Faculty Research Awards Program.
BAAD Narratives Team
Co-Directors: Victor H. Asal and R. Karl Rethemeyer
Narrative Project Manager: Corina Simonelli
BAAD Project Managers: Corina Simonelli and Sue Weedon
- Alejandro Castro-Reina
- Brianna Carroll
- Casey Schur
- Christian Johnson
- Craig Famoso
- Emily Wolfe
- Emmi Heller
- Jamie Zieno
- Jona Hoxha
- Joshua Van Wert
- Kady Arthur
- Kaitlyn Sanborn
- Katherine Waye
- Ken Cousins
- Lauren Mannerberg
- Serae LaFache-Brazier
- Shannon Briggs
- Troy Norton
- START News story: New online tool reveals terrorist networks and behaviors over time
- Project Fact Sheet: Big, Allied and Dangerous (BAAD)