A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

Big, Allied, Dangerous, and Charitable?


Big, Allied, Dangerous, and Charitable?

Project Details

Abstract: 

The project built on the work of Eli Berman by collecting time series data on terrorist organizations and their involvement in social services and charity efforts. The research team integrated the Middle East Minorities at Risk-Organizational Behavior (MAROB) and Political Organizations Database (POD) with the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) and a variety of country-level variables. Using multiple quantitative techniques, the researcher team assessed the relative impact of social service provision on the frequency and lethality of terrorist events and the inter-connectivity between terrorist groups. In order to make more robust analysis of these questions possible for future projects, the research team also began to expand the Big, Allied and Dangerous (BAAD) dataset to include time-series information on organizations' charitable behaviors.

Primary Findings: 

The project found that social service provision (particularly when provided at a level equivalent to government service provision) can, in certain circumstances, have an important impact on the choice of violence and increases the likelihood that social services will be used as a tool as a part of a violent campaign in much the same way as Berman suggests. This hypothesis will be further tested in future projects using the updated BAAD data to see if it valid across ideologies, types of groups and in different cultural areas.

Methodology: 

The project analyzed organization-year data for factors including charitable behaviors, size, ideology, and social network connections with other organizations and countries. These independent variables were combined with event data from the Global Terrorism Database while controlling for a variety of country-level variables to look at how these factors, especially social service provision, impact how terrorist groups behave. The researchers used zero-inflated regression models to analyze the incidents and lethality of terrorist organizations and used stochastic social network analysis to look at how social services and charity impact the connections that organizations have with each other.

Timeframe

Project Period: 
June 2009 to October 2011