New Web Site Offers Extensive Information on Terrorist Incidents, Groups
By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2004 A nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing terrorism on U.S. soil has launched a Web site that provides extensive information on global terrorist incidents and organizations.
The Terrorism Knowledge Base at www.tkb.org serves as a
comprehensive databank of global terrorist incidents and
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, known as MIPT, is funded by the Department of Homeland Security. The institute created the Terrorism Knowledge Base over the past four years. It was made available to the world in early September, said James Ellis III, MIPT research and program coordinator.
"The goal of this site is to create a system that gives users a much more comprehensive picture of terrorism than is available anywhere else," Ellis said. "We've given people a much better window into where terrorism is happening, how it is happening and who is carrying it out."
The Terrorism Knowledge Base provides a variety of terrorism-related resources, including original data gathered over a 35-year period, encompassing information on more than 18,000 separate terrorist incidents. In addition to searchable data, such as fact sheets on terrorist organizations and court records of terrorism trials, the site also offers interactive analytical tools capable of developing individualized reports and analyses on various aspects of terrorism.
"Part of our mandate is to act as a national point of contact in the search for the social and political causes of terrorism," Ellis said. "We feel that this project helps fulfill our mandate."
Because the site provides not only a very broad overview of terrorism but also considerable depth on specific subjects, Ellis said that it is useful to a wide variety of users. These may range from researchers and policymakers to emergency responders or simply interested members of the general public. Defense Department personnel are an important segment of the audience, according to Ellis.
"This is a global system, capable of global reach, and for that reason it should be useful to military people or defense officials," Ellis said. "The defense community can certainly be considered a core audience."
Since information available on the site is not classified and freely available to the public, Ellis said, it has been useful to some military and other government personnel operating in overseas locations without access to secure networks.
"We've received feedback from personnel who have been able to get information they needed from the site while functioning in an operational capacity. Because they didn't have access to secure connections at the time, they couldn't get that information through the classified channels they would normally have used," Ellis said. "We are not a real-time intelligence system, but we can serve as a source of accurate and credible information."
Army Lt. Col. James Cassella, director of U.S. Army Public Web Communications and the Army home page, said he feels the amount of information on the site will be of great value to users.
"This site offers a tremendous amount of content, so much so that we're considering adding a link to it from our own 'Timeline of Terrorism' Web special on www.army.mil," Cassella said. "Terrorism continues to pose a grave threat, and the more we know about it, the more effective we'll be in countering it."
One of the most useful tools provided by the site is the ability to compare and contrast groups of data, according to Ellis. For example, a visitor to the site can view side-by-side terrorism-related statistics of two countries. Or they might choose to compare two terrorist organizations. The system's tools can also generate reports and graphic representations of the research queries.
"The site offers a deep system with lots of functionality. We don't expect to be the last stop in terrorism research, but we could and should be the first stop," Ellis said. "Our site should have wide appeal. It's not just for the hard-core analysts. Whether it's someone looking up terrorism information for the first time or a high-end user doing advanced research, they should find our site useful."
Sgt. 1st Class Jacquelyn Jones, who serves as the senior intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army Reserve's 9th Theater Support Command, based on Fort Belvoir, Va., said she is impressed with the site and its ability to efficiently deliver information.
"I think it's awesome. If my commander requires some quick background information on a geographic location or some basic information on which terrorist groups might be active in a potential area of operations, this site would help me find that information quickly and easily," Jones said.
Though he said he believes the Terrorism Knowledge Base already offers the most comprehensive information package on terrorism available to the public on the Web, Ellis said the site will be continuously updated and improved.
"Our project is meant to be dynamic, user-friendly and interactive. It will only get better as people use it and give us feedback," Ellis said. "I think our site can revolutionize and raise the level of terrorism research. Hopefully, it will also have a positive impact on policy making."