Understanding the Nexus of Terrorist Web Sites

  • Jennifer Xu
  • Hsinchun Chen
Part of the Studies in Computational Intelligence book series (SCI, volume 135)


In recent years terrorist groups have been using the World-Wide Web to spread their ideologies, disseminate propaganda, and recruit members. Studying the terrorist Web sites may help us understand the characteristics of these Web sites and predict terrorist activities. In this chapter, we propose to apply network topological analysis methods on systematically collected the terrorist Web site data and to study the structural characteristics at the Web page level. We conducted a case study using the methods on three collections of terrorist Web sites: Middle- Eastern, US domestic, and Latin-American. We found that the Web page networks from these three collections have the small-world and scale-free characteristics. We also found that smaller size Web sites which share similar interests tend to make stronger inter-site linkages, which help them form the giant component in the networks.


Degree Distribution Terrorist Group Average Path Length Giant Component High Cluster Coefficient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Albert, R., Barabási, A.L.: Statistical mechanics of complex networks. Reviews of Modern Physics 74, 47–97 (2002)CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Barabási, A.L., Albert, R.: Emergence of scaling in random networks. Science 286, 509–512 (1999)CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Brin, S., Page, L.: The anatomy of a large-scale hypertextual web search engine. In: The 7th WWW Conference, Brisbane, Australia (1998)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Burris, V., Smith, E., Strahm, A.: White Supremacist Networks on the Internet. Sociological Focus 33, 215–235 (2000)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chau, M., Zeng, D., Chen, H., Huang, M., Hendriawan, D.: Design and evaluation of a multi-agent collaborative Web mining system. Decision Support Systems 35, 167–183 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Erdos, P., Renyi, A.: On random graphs. Publ. Math-Debrecen 6, 290–297 (1959)MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Etzioni, O.: The World Wide Web: Quagmire or gold mine. Communications of the ACM 39, 65–68 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Freeman, L.C.: Centrality in social networks: Conceptual clarification. Social Networks 1, 215–240 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gerstenfeld, P.B., Grant, D.R., Chiang, C.P.: Hate Online: A Content Analysis of Extremist Internet Sites. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy 3, 29 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gibson, D., Kleinberg, J., Raghavan, P.: Inferring web communities from link topology. In: The 9th ACM Conference on Hypertext and Hypermedia, Pittsburgh, PA (1998)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Gustavson, A.T., Sherkat, D.E.: Elucidating the Web of Hate: The Ideological Structuring of Network Ties among White Supremacist Groups on the Internet. In: Ann. Meeting Am. Sociological Assoc. (2004)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kleinberg, J.: Authoritative sources in a hyperlinked environment. In: The 9th ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, San Francisco, CA (1998)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kumar, S.R., Raghavan, P., Rajagopalan, S., Tomkins, A.: Trawling the web for emerging cyber-communities. Computer Networks 31, 1481–1493 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    McAndrew, D.: The structural analysis of criminal networks. In: Canter, D., Alison, L. (eds.) The Social Psychology of Crime: Groups, Teams, and Networks, I, Aldershot, Dartmouth. Offender Profiling Series, vol. III, pp. 53–94 (1999)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    McIllwain, J.S.: Organized crime: A social network approach. Crime, Law & Social Change 32, 301–323 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Milgram, S.: The small world problem. Psychology Today 2, 60–67 (1967)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Newman, M.E., Watts, D.J., Strogatz, S.H.: Random graph models of social networks. Proc. Natl Acad Sci. 99(1), 2566–2572 (2002)CrossRefzbMATHGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Palmer, C.R., Gibbons, P.B., Faloutsos, C.: ANF: A fast and scalable tool for data mining in massive graphs. In: The 8th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (2002)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Qin, J., Zhou, Y., Lai, G., Reid, E., Sageman, M., Chen, H.: The Dark Web portal project: Collecting and analyzing the presence of terrorist groups on the web. In: Kantor, P., Muresan, G., Roberts, F., Zeng, D.D., Wang, F.-Y., Chen, H., Merkle, R.C. (eds.) ISI 2005. LNCS, vol. 3495, pp. 623–624. Springer, Heidelberg (2005)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Ronfeldt, D., Arquilla, J.: What next for networks and net-wars? In: Arquilla, J., Ronfeldt, D. (eds.) Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy, Rand Press, Santa Monica (2001)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Sparrow, M.K.: The application of network analysis to criminal intelligence: An assessment of the prospects. Social Networks 13, 251–274 (1991)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    S.P.L. Center, Hate Groups, Militias on Rise as Extremists Stage Comeback (2004),
  23. 23.
    Wasserman, S., Faust, K.: Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1994)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Watts, D.J., Strogatz, S.H.: Collective dynamics of ’small-world’ networks. Nature 393, 440–442 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Weimann, G.: How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet. United States Institute of Peace (2004), (Special Report 116)
  26. 26.
    Whine, M.: Far Right on the Internet. In: Loader, B. (ed.) Governance of Cyber-space, Routledge, pp. 209–227 (1997)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Xu, J., Chen, H.: CrimeNet Explorer: A framework for criminal network knowledge discovery. ACM Transactions on Information Systems 23, 201–226 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Zhou, Y., Qin, J., Lai, G., Reid, E., Chen, H.: Building Knowl-edge Management System for Researching Terrorist Groups on the Web. In: Proceedings of the Eleventh Americas Conference on Information Systems, Omaha, NE, USA (2005)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Xu
    • 1
  • Hsinchun Chen
    • 2
  1. 1.Computer Information Systems DepartmentBentley CollegeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management Information Systems, Eller College of ManagementThe University of ArizonaUSA

Personalised recommendations