University at Albany

Current Projects

The Project on Violent Conflict currently has multiple active projects.

Karl RethemeyerKarl Rethemeyer
Rethemeyer & Asal

Project on Violent Conflict receives $1M Grant

Monday, January 30, 2012 - Rockefeller College's Project on Violent Conflict has won a $1 million dollar award over five years as part of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) based at the University of Maryland to continue to expand the scientific understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism, specifically addressing crucial homeland security issues, such as terrorist behavior, violent extremism and counterterrorism. The Project on Violent Conflict, run by Professors Victor Asal and R. Karl Rethemeyer, will focus on collecting data on Terrorist and Extremist Organizations and analyzing factors that help explain their organizational behavior. 

Hot Spots of Hate and Violence: US County Level Analysis of Factors Related to Hate Crimes and Terrorism

Principal Investigator(s): Victor Asal, Kathleen Deloughery, Ryan King, Karl Rethemeyer

Our project is an effort to exploit existing quantitative data in innovative ways to identify factors that make certain counties prone to radicalization and political or hate-inspired violence.  We are particularly interested in testing multiple hypotheses concerning the association between hate crime and terrorism. The project will test different channels for a potential link between hate crimes and terrorism, which may allow the homeland security and national security communities to explicitly identify hate crimes as an indicator of radicalization that may predict subsequent, more violent terrorist activity. Likewise, the project enables us to assess whether hate crimes are committed in response to terrorist acts, which could aid local law enforcement in the wake of a terrorist attack. More importantly, we will create a model that identifies causal factors related to the outbreak of violent radicalized activity in the United States at the county level of analysis, a level of analysis that is focused enough that it can be useful from a policy perspective not just for the federal level of the security communities but also at the level of state offices of homeland security.

Research for this project is funded by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism And Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, based at the University of Maryland.

Big Allied And Dangerous (BAAD)

Download BAAD1 Lethality Dataset

Principal Investigator(s): Victor Asal, Karl Rethemeyer, Ian Anderson

The Big Allied And Dangerous (BAAD) project focuses on creation and maintenance of a comprehensive database of terrorist organizational characteristics. This project has created two datasets. The first, BAAD Version 1.0 (BAAD1) contains a single snapshot of 395 terrorist organizations active (meaning they perpetrated at least one attack) between 1998-2005. This dataset grew from the information originally hosted by the Memorial Institute for the Preventions of Terrorism’s (MIPT) in their Terrorism Knowledge Base (TKB). BAAD1 improved and extended the data available from MIPT through independent verification and coding efforts. The dataset includes both case-by-variables information on each organization and network data. The case-by-variables dataset is available for download currently. The network data will be available for download during the second quarter of 2010. Big Allied and Dangerous, Version 2.0 (BAAD2) seeks to improve upon BAAD1 in multiple ways by (1) providing time series data in yearly slices, (2) expanding the time period forward through 2007, and (3) increasing the number and depth of variables collected and coded. BAAD2 is made up of two major components. The first is the data on organizational variables. These variables include: group name, aliases, homebase, ideology, size, age, structure, financial support, electoral involvement, leadership loss, territorial control, CBRN pursuit or use, and number of incidents, injuries, and fatalities. The second component is the social network data, which characterizes relations between terrorist organizations as well as between countries and terrorist organizations. Relationships are coded for categories such as: suspected ally, ally, faction, splinter group, rival, enemy, target, and state sponsor. This data can then be used to create dynamic network visualizations to show the networks evolving over the 10 years included in the dataset. Data construction for BAAD2 is currently ongoing.

Research for this project is funded by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism And Responses to Terrorism (START), a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, based at the University of Maryland.

Terrorist Attributes to Network Connections (TANC)

Principal Investigator(s): Ronald Breiger (UArizona), Brinton Milward (UArizona), Victor Asal, Karl Rethemeyer, Gary Ackerman (START)

This new project is being conducted in partnership with the University of Arizona and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism And Repsonses to Terrorism (START) and seeks to enhance and leverage existing human terrain datasets relevant to violent non-state actors in order to develop new analytical tools to model human networks engaged in the pursuit of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) weapons.

Research for this project is being funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).

Past Projects

Bomb to Bombmaker (B2B)

Principal Investigator(s): John Horgan (ICST), Victor Asal, Karl Rethemeyer

Bomb to Bombmaker is a project being conducted in partnership with the International Center for the Study of Terrorism (ICST) at Penn State University. B2B seeks to develop a multi-level, multi-method study of thirty-eight years of Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA)-based IED activity by drawing heavily from both socio-psychological and social network analytical methods. The PIRA had a long history of malevolent creativity in the development of multiple forms of IEDs, which now see use across the globe. By studying the IRA's IED development process, we hope to provide an analytical framework that can be applied to other operational theaters, such as current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ultimately the project will produce a detailed research report containing (1) a quantitative dataset of all PIRA IED activity from 1970-2004, (2) a quantitative dataset of PIRA volunteers containing both case-by-variables information as well as social network connections at the individual level, (3) case studies of major IED operations using Routine Activity Analysis, and (4) a summary report containing literature reviews related to IEDs and malevolent creativity along with analysis for possible use in training of future C-IED officers.

Research for this project is being funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Science & Technology Division.

Mapping the Trajectories of Military Intervention and Occupation

Principal Investigator(s): Mia Bloom (ICST/Penn State University)

The current US situation in Iraq and Afghanistan has reintroduced occupation and military strategy into the public policy debate. PVC researcher Kathleen Deloughery is working as a subcontract on this research project which will examine over one hundred cases of military intervention and occupation since the end of World War II. Of specific interest to the group are cases in which the goal of the intervention was to influence the structure or composition of the occupied country’s government. The main goal of this project is to study foreign military intervention, occupation, and foreign imposed regime changes using a multidisciplinary approach that pulls from political science, economics, sociology, and history.  Investigators from each field will work together to gather security, economic, sociological, and historical data on policies and strategies used during military interventions and analyze the effectiveness of these policies. This dataset will help to create an empirical model for determining which policies, or combinations of policies, ultimately lead to successful interventions, affect insurgency, impact institutions, and lead to long term economic performance. The project will produce detailed reports with extensive case studies and statistical analyses on two main points. First, we examine the factors with the greatest impact on whether foreign interventions fail or succeed. The second goal examines the long-term consequences of various strategies of exiting for the intervening state and intervention target, paying special attention to target security and prosperity. In addition to reports and academic articles, project deliverables include an open source dataset on occupations and interventions. One of the main goals of this project is to utilize this data to inform the policy debate on occupations. The information we provide to the debate will be grounded in systematic, scientific tests of hypotheses about the effectiveness, costs, and consequences of various political, economic, and military intervention strategies, tactics, and policies.

Research for this project is being funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Science & Technology Division.

Agent-Based Modeling for SSTR Mission Planning & Analysis (ABM-SSTR)

Principal Investigator(s): Glenn Taylor (SoarTech), Karl Rethemeyer, Victor Asal, Mitch Abolafia

The Agent-Based Modeling for SSTR Mission Planning & Analysis project is being conducted in collaboration with Soar Technology, or SoarTech, based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The goal of ABM-SSTR is to improve SSTR mission planning with data-driven agent-based models that can better anticipate 2nd and 3rd order outcomes. As the subcontractor on this project, PVC is acting as the data provider using the Minorities at Risk Observational Behavior (MAROB) and BAAD datasets. PVC is also providing subject matter expertise to the project, while SoarTech builds the agent-based models using their Power Structure Toolkit (PSTK) platform. Finally PVC is building statistical models to test against the agent-based models in terms of predcitive power as a supplement to the split model experimental design.

Research for this project is being funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Science & Technology Division.

Know Thyself (KTS)

Principal Investigator(s): Karl Rethemeyer, Victor Asal, Mitch Abolafia, John Horgan (ICST)

The Know Thyself (KTS) project sought to develop a theory of effectiveness in counter-insurgency and stabilization operations informed by operators’ experience using ethnographic, network, and quantitative methods. The units of analysis were Marine commanders at the Company and Regimental Combat Team (RCT) levels. This project was unique in that it focuses on blue force rather than red force and seeks to develop a knowledge base that is both deep and wide - that is, it will examine multiple units, multiple levels, multiple theaters, and multiple types of data. Conclusions will be based on mutually reinforcing data from human and textual sources and derived using a mixture of ethnographic, statistical, and network and methods. Our ultimate goal is to capture and systematize the wisdom of commanders on the ground while testing that wisdom against quantitative metrics. Phase I was completed, which was devoted to developing and validate protocols and sampling strategy. A major product of Phase I was the Counter-Insurgency Literature Review (CILR) - a comprehensive review of the counter-insurgency and stabilization operations literature which includes summaries and structured data on more than 200 major works to date.

Research for this project was funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Science & Technology Division.

Integrated Crisis Early Warning System (ICEWS)

Principle Institution: BBN Technologies

The ICEWS project "seeks to develop a comprehensive, integrated, automated, generalizable, and validated system to monitor, assess, and forecast national, sub-national, and international crises in a way that supports decisions on how to allocate resources to mitigate them." As a partner on this project PVC provided terrorism subject matter expertise and hand coding verification of automated coding support to BBN and other partner institutions.

Research for this project was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).