Archives for Terrorism

Forensic Accounting and Al Qaeda

A new RAND study of captured documents from al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) reveals some interesting facts about the organization. It found that “AQI was a hierarchical organization with decentralized decisionmaking; AQI in Anbar was profitable enough to send substantial revenues out of the province in 2006; AQI relied on extortion, theft, and black market sales to fund its operations in Anbar; AQI needed large, regular revenue sources to fund its operations, but its administrative leaders did not hold much cash on hand.” Read More »

Fighting Suicide Bombers: What Works?

Efraim Benmelech, Claude Berrebi and Esteban F. Klor have already argued that a bad economy equals deadlier terrorists. Now, the three economists have turned their attention to the effects of house demolitions on terrorism. Read More »

SuperFreakonomics Book Club: Ian Horsley Answers Your Questions About the Terrorist Algorithm

In the SuperFreakonomics Virtual Book Club, we invite readers to ask questions of some of the researchers and other characters in our book. Last week, we opened up the questioning for “Ian Horsley,” a banker who’s been working with Steve Levitt to develop an algorithm to catch terrorists. His answers are below. Thanks to Ian and to all of you for the questions. Read More »

Bad Economy = Deadlier Terrorists

Here’s yet more evidence that a good economy is good news all around. Read More »

SuperFreakonomics Book Club: Can a Banker's Algorithm Help Catch Would-Be Terrorists?

This week we’re offering up “Ian Horsley.” By day, he is employed in the anti-fraud department of a large British bank; but in his every spare moment for the past few years he has been working hard in collaboration with Steve Levitt to build an algorithm that can identify potential terrorists by their retail banking data. Read More »

Weapons Get Weirder and Weirder

The latest in weird weaponry. Read More »

How to Improve Intelligence

Robert Jervis writes in the Boston Globe that to improve intelligence, CIA investigators should stop thinking so intuitively, pay more attention to what they see in front of them, make assumptions that can be disproven, and realize that terrorists don’t see the world like they do. Read More »

The Unintended Consequences of Secrecy

Washington, D.C., is underlaced by miles of fiber optic cables that carry information for the nation’s intelligence agencies. The exact locations of these cables are kept secret so that terrorists and other enemy agents can’t snip the lines. The secrecy has indeed kept the cables safe from terrorists. Instead, the danger comes from well-meaning construction crews, who occasionally sever these sensitive conduits during the course of an innocuous building project. That’s when the men in the black SUV’s show up. Read More »