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Spotting Terrorists Before They Strike

How can we find home-grown terrorists who have been indoctrinated by (usually) internet propaganda, like Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, who opened fire at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, killing 12 people and wounding 31 others?

The Defense Dept. intelligence Agency (DARPA) is asking scientists to look at the emails of groups of people around the world and create a program that can "make them quantitatively analyzable in a rigorous, transparent and repeatable fashion." Armed with this program, the military can target groups that are vulnerable to terrorists’ recruiting tactics, and perhaps even counter their messages with emails that give the opposite views.

In Wired.com, Dawn Lim quotes a DARPA spokesperson as saying, "Stories are important in security contexts. (They) change the course of insurgencies, frame negotiations, play a role in political radicalization, influence the methods and goals of violent social movements."

DARPA is asking scientists to "take narratives and make them quantitatively analyzable in a rigorous, transparent and repeatable fashion." The idea is to detect terrorists who have been indoctrinated by propaganda. Then, the Pentagon can respond with some messages of its own.

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