The Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG)

Study   Established in 2002, the Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG) is presently known as the Center for Analytics, located at the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut – where it has gained considerable international notoriety. The brainchild of Dr. Richard Ward, its original formation occurred at Sam Houston State University, in Huntsville, Texas, where Dr. Ward served as the Vice-President for Research and Special Programs and the Dean of the Criminal Justice Center. A noted expert on terrorism, organized crime, and international corruption, he had previously spent 27 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he implemented the Office of International Criminal Justice for the study of comparative concerns in transnational crime. Through a grant provided by the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the United States Department of Justice, the inception of ISVG revolved around the hope to research and identify the inclinations, connections and tactics of international terrorist groups through a “relational database” available to the public. As an open source research center, the ultimate goal of the data collection is to collaboratively augment the overall knowledge of radical violent extremism and global crimes – thereby empowering ISVG to “create analytic products that incorporate geospatial visualizations, link associations, temporal outlines, statistical dashboards, and social network analysis.”

Three ResourcesDr. Ward transferred ISVG to its new home at the University of New Haven in 2008 and initiated the first dissemination of the database results, which took the name of the Violent Extremism Knowledge Base (VKB) in 2011. The ISVG database was organized with the purpose of capturing and recording 1,500 diverse variables associated with groups, individuals, and events that are linked with radical violent crime and extremism around the globe. After 10 years of diligent research, the database contained over 223,000 incidents that had involved about 43,000 individuals – with links to about 3,000 different organizations. ISVG communicated this information through “advanced visualization and analytic products,” with the intention of aiding those that are empowered to make important decisions on terrorism and global crime.

The research of ISVG focused on geographic regions, the movements of radically violent groups, and specific events that involve terrorism or transnational criminality. The reporting of this information has involved charts, geo-referenced data in the form of maps, and statistical timelines that reveal activity over identified periods of time. In the past, the ISVG website once described this form of data amalgamation in the following manner:

Link and network association charts – provide insights into a region such as discovering connections between actors, the existence of new groups, the dissolution of known alliances, and shared participation in attacks.

Event data is geospatially enabledgeoreferencing allows information to be used in visualizations that can uncover new hot spots of activity, trends in attack locations, and the growth of violence across regions over time. Data can also be imported into existing geospatial environments as dynamic data layers.

Information is temporally tagged – data to be exported and used to create detailed timelines of activity, statistical graphs that are used to expose trends over time, and to examine the activity levels within a region over periods of time.


ISVG Is Noted Worldwide For Its Analytic Visualizations Like This

The research such as provided by ISVG involves manually sifting through information gained from web sites, journals that are available online, social media, governmental publications, and other traditional open source media that is accessible worldwide. Highly competent researchers, fluent in a multiplicity of languages, merge the compiled data into analytic visualizations for presentation to the public and specific “clients” positioned within governmental organization and interagency homeland security. ISVG prided itself on a “three-tiered quality control process,” dedicated to “transparency, accuracy, and accountability from the researchers, database content, and analytic products.” Data acquisition and synthesis were an ongoing concern of ISVG projects located across the United States, involving interaction with multiple government and private agencies vested in the maintenance of national security. The website for ISVG once offered a search function by which any interested person could review the profiles of violent radical groups – by geographic region, significant acts of crime and terror, or notable personages. Likewise, the ISVG blog offered interesting and frequent “links of the day” pulled from “hundreds of open-source news and intelligence articles from around the globe.” The fruits of ISVG can today be seen exemplified in the efforts of the START Consortium.

The existence and easy availability of geospatial date is an obvious indication that violent extremism has become a global problem of vital concern. Although terrorism is not a newcomer to the history of civilization, recent advancements in technology have made it a menace that must be tracked more carefully than in past centuries. The events of 911 are an obvious indication of this fact, involving aviation, cell phones, international crime, transnational financing, and subsequent mass destruction. ISVG has contributed to the advancement in sophistication required to meet these threats, which in time could involve extremist groups capable of venting nuclear destruction on large metropolitan areas. Proactive measures such as those offered by ISVG are crucial to meeting this fanaticism head-on and before the fact, rather than suffering an immense tragedy that makes 911 pale in comparison. The video below is offered as additional information for those accessing this article, but we also ask that you please click on the link below and sign the petition to which this website is dedicated.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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Forty Years in the Making: The Bureau of Counterterrorism

Government      The Munich Olympic Games of 1972 are an historical event second only to the 911 attacks of September, 2001 when it comes to the impact of radical transnational violence on the direction of U. S. foreign policy.  In what has to be described as the most tragic event in Olympic history, 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by the Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September, which acted with the logistical support of German Neo-Nazis groups. Demanding the release of 234 prisoners held in Israeli jails, as well as the freedom of two founders of the German Red Army Faction that were incarcerated in German prisons, the terrorists moved into action during the second week of the games. An attempted military rescue ended tragically with the death of all 11 athletes and a German police officer, although 5 of the terrorists were also killed and the other three taken captive. When the three surviving terrorists were later released from German prison as part of the negotiations ending the hijacking of a Lufthansa airliner, Israel responded with Operation Spring of Youth, in which Israeli intelligence tracked down and killed all the Palestinian terrorists connected with the atrocity.  The heartbreaking progression of violence at the 1972 Olympic Games and its aftermath is said to have ushered in the so-called “modern age of terrorism.” For the United States, the most significant reaction came in the creation of the Office for Combatting Terrorism within the State Department.


11 Israeli Athletes and 1 German Police Officer Were Killed By Palestinian Terrorists
Photo credit: The Happy Rower / / CC BY-NC-ND
Click for Larger Photo

In August of 1976, the Department of State officially elevated the “title” for the director overseeing counterterrorism efforts from “Special Assistant to the Secretary of State and Coordinator of the Office for Combating Terrorism” to that of Director of the Office for Combating Terrorism, and President Gerald R. Ford appointed L. Douglas Heck as the first to serve under such an official designation until June 6, 1977. However, the United States was again rocked by an horrific event of international terrorism on October 23, 1983, when Hezbollah suicide bombers struck the barracks housing 299 U. S. and French military personnel stationed in Beirut, Lebanon as a part of an international peacekeeping force during the Lebanese Civil War of 1975- 1990. An obvious indication of complete failure in counterterrorism efforts, the tragedy led to a great deal of internal soul searching and investigation on the part of the Department of Defense and State Department – leading to yet another reorganization of the Office for Combatting Terrorism, including the re-designation of its director as the “Ambassador at Large for Counter-Terrorism” on November 4, 1985. In a National Security Decision Directive of early 1986, then President Ronald Reagan legally designated the State Department as the responsible entity for directing U. S. international policy on terrorism. In May of 1989, the official title for the director overseeing operations was again changed to “Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism,” thereby reflecting the growing menace radical transnational violence had become and ending disagreements on which governmental body was responsible for countermanding its threat on U. S. citizens.

In 1994, Congress officially decreed the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism as public law in House Resolution 2333. Four years later, a clearer picture came with House Resolution 4328, which stated:

“There is within the office of the Secretary of State a Coordinator for Counterterrorism, who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The principal duty of the coordinator shall be the overall supervision (including policy oversight of resources) of international counterterrorism activities. The Coordinator shall be the principal adviser to the Secretary of State on international counterterrorism matters. The coordinator shall be the principal counterterrorism official within the senior management of the Department of State and shall report directly to the Secretary of State. The Coordinator shall have the rank and status of Ambassador at Large. The Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism (S/CT) is headed by the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, who has the rank of Ambassador-at-Large. The Principal Deputy Coordinator works directly with the Coordinator to oversee all aspects of S/CT activities.”

These changes established a definite chain of command when it comes to tracking and countermanding terrorism, and the coordinators/directors of those efforts are listed below, dating back to the Ford Administration.


October 24, 1983 Front Page News of the Beiruit Suicide Bombing

In 2009, the newly elected Obama Administration implemented the practice of analyzing short, medium and long term proposals for U. S. State Department responsibilities. Dubbed the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), this process is intended to occur every 4 years – with the goal of identifying shortfalls in the department’s capabilities. As a result of this process, on January 4, 2012 the Office for Combating Terrorism received the new name of Bureau of Counterterrorism , with a designated task “to forge partnerships with non-state actors, multilateral organizations, and foreign governments to advance the counterterrorism objectives and national security of the United States.” Programs within this bureau have included: Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program (ATA), Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), Counterterrorism Finance (CTF), Counterterrorism Preparedness Program, Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST), Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), International Security Events Group (ISEG), Regional Strategic Initiative (RSI), Technical Support Working Group (TSWG), Terrorist Screening and Interdiction Programs (TSI), Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP), and The Partnership for Regional East African Counterterrorism (PREACT).

The rising importance of counterterrorism efforts within the organization of the State Department is an obvious indication that radical transnational violence has grown more severe over the past 40 years, and this fact is also very evident in the infamous attacks of 911, which most Americans would have never dreamed possible in 1972. Current U. S. efforts to counter this violence emphasize the role of international cooperation very heavily, involving bilateral discussions with about 20 countries – including weekly “secure communications” in some cases. Of equal importance is the emphasis on the programs of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE), which “aim to counter the radicalization of persons who may be moving onto the next phase of engaging in terrorist violence or knowingly providing material support for the shooters and bombers.” An ounce of intervention and prevention is worth a ton of safety, but the promotion of peace and tolerance is also important – and in many respects this can occur through the solemn recognition of those that have died as victims of this growing menace to the future of mankind. You can lend your support to such efforts by clicking the link below and signing the petition to which this website is dedicated. The video below concerns the actual announcement to the public concerning the establishment of the Bureau of Counterterrorism.

You can help promote the establishment of a monument dedicated to all American victims of terrorism, whether they died at home or abroad, by clicking the link above and signing the petition. Nothing is asked but your signature for a good cause.

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