Terrorism, Security and the Power of Informal Networks

Terrorism, Security and the Power of Informal Networks

Edited by David Martin Jones, Ann Lane and Paul Schulte

This innovative work examines the concept of the informal network and its practical utility within the context of counterterrorism. Drawing together a range of practitioner and academic expertise it explores the character and evolution of informal networks, addressing the complex relationship between kinship groups, transnational linkages and the role that globalization and new technologies play in their formation and sustainability.

Chapter 1: The Utility of Informal Networks to Policy-makers

Alexander Evans

Subjects: politics and public policy, international politics, terrorism and security


* Alexander Evans MAPPING HUMAN TERRAIN On 7 May 2008 Michael Bhatia was killed by an improvised explosive device in Khost province, Afghanistan.1 A promising academic, he had studied at Brown University, USA and was researching a DPhil. in Afghan politics at Oxford. Bhatia was working in Afghanistan for a pilot programme run by the US Department of Defense that embeds social scientists with military units in order to take advantage of their expertise and experience.2 The $60 million programme has proven to be controversial,3 and some anthropologists have organized an on-line campaign against it that includes a pledge not to participate in counter-insurgency.4 But it underpins a transformation that is taking place in contemporary security policy as governments come to recognize that cultural and historical understanding remains as important as ever in forming, and delivering, effective policy.5 A systematic, evidence-based understanding of culture, language and history is essential to strong international policy-making. Indeed, an increasing emphasis in the US and Europe on evidence-based public policy, with new offshoots in areas such as behavioural economics, show how important this theme has become to government policy-making as a whole. This chapter sets out some of the ways in which informal networks matter to policy-makers – and how policy-makers can make better use of informal networks themselves. It briefly touches on four international case studies: China, Russia, Pakistan and Nigeria, demonstrating how informal networks are critical to understanding each of these societies. INFORMAL IS NORMAL Informal networks, and unofficial ways of doing things,...

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