On the Topology of the Dark Web of Terrorist Groups

  • Jennifer Xu
  • Hsinchun Chen
  • Yilu Zhou
  • Jialun Qin
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 3975)


In recent years, terrorist groups have used the WWW to spread their ideologies, disseminate propaganda, and recruit members. Studying the terrorist websites may help us understand the characteristics of these websites and predict terrorist activities. In this paper, we propose to apply network topological analysis methods on systematically collected the terrorist website data and to study the structural characteristics at the Web page level. We conducted a case study using the methods on three collections of Middle-Eastern, US domestic, and Latin-American terrorist websites. We found that these three networks have the small-world and scale-free characteristics. We also found that smaller size websites which share same interests tend to make stronger inter-website linkage relationships.


Degree Distribution Cluster Coefficient Terrorist Group Giant Component Racist Symbol 
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.
    Lee, E., Leets, L.: Persuasive storytelling by hate groups online - Examining its effects on adolescents. American Behavioral Scientist 45, 927–957 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Center, S.P.L.: Hate Groups, Militias on Rise as Extremists Stage Comeback (2004),
  3. 3.
    Whine, M.: Far Right on the Internet. In: Loader, B. (ed.) Governance of Cyberspace, Routledge, pp. 209–227 (1997)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weimann, G.: How Modern Terrorism Uses the Internet. United States Institute of Peace Special Report 116 (2004),
  5. 5.
    Chen, H., Chung, W., Xu, J., Wang, G., Qin, Y., Chau, M.: Crime data mining: a general framework and some examples. Computer 37, 50 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    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
  7. 7.
    Gustavson, A.T., Sherkat, D.E.: Elucidating the Web of Hate: The Ideological Structuring of Network Ties among White Supremacist Groups on the Internet. Ann. Meeting Am. Sociological Assoc. (2004) (presented at)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Demchak, C.C., Friis, C., Porte, T.M.L.: Webbing Governance: National Differences in Constructing the Face of Public Organizations. In: Garson, G.D. (ed.) Handbook of Public Information Systems. Marcel Dekker, New York (2000)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Zhou, Y., Qin, J., Lai, G., Reid, E., Chen, H.: Building Knowledge Management System for Researching Terrorist Groups on the Web. In: Proceedings of the Eleventh Americas Conference on Information Systems, Omaha, NE, USA (2005) (presented at)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Burris, V., Smith, E., Strahm, A.: White Supremacist Networks on the Internet. Sociological Focus 33, 215–235 (2000)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Albert, R., Barabasi, A.L.: Statistical mechanics of complex networks. Reviews of Modern Physics 74, 47–97 (2002)CrossRefMathSciNetMATHGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Erdos, P., Renyi, A.: On random graphs. Publ. Math-Debrecen 6, 290–297 (1959)MathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Watts, D.J., Strogatz, S.H.: Collective dynamics of ‘small-world’ networks. Nature 393, 440–2 (1998)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Barabasi, A.L., Albert, R.: Emergence of scaling in random networks. Science 286, 509–12 (1999)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Wasserman, S., Faust, K.: Social Network Analysis: Methods and Applications. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (1994)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    McAndrew, D.: The structural analysis of criminal networks. In: Canter, D. (ed.) The Social Psychology of Crime: Groups, Teams, and Networks, I, Offender Profiling Series, II, Aldershot, Dartmouth, pp. 53–94 (1999)Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    McIllwain, J.S.: Organized crime: A social network approach. Crime, Law & Social Change 32, 301–323 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Sparrow, M.K.: The application of network analysis to criminal intelligence: An assessment of the prospects. Social Networks  13, 251–274 (1991)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)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Newman, M.E., Watts, D.J., Strogatz, S.H.: Random graph models of social networks. In: Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., USA, vol. 99(suppl. 1), pp. 2566–2572 (2002)Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Palmer, C., Gibbons, P., Faloutsos, C.: ANF: A fast and scalable tool for data mining in massive graphs. In: Proc. of the 8th ACM SIGKDD Internal Conference on Knowlege Discovery and Data Mining (2002)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Xu
    • 1
  • Hsinchun Chen
    • 2
  • Yilu Zhou
    • 2
  • Jialun Qin
    • 2
  1. 1.Computer Information Systems DepartmentBentey CollegeWalthamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management Information Systems, Eller College of ManagementThe University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

Personalised recommendations