Terrorist network infiltration, asymmetric information, and quality uncertainty

Phillips, Peter J. (2011) Terrorist network infiltration, asymmetric information, and quality uncertainty. Journal of Applied Security Research, 6 (3). pp. 339-356. ISSN 1936-1610


From time to time, the press reports the disruption of a terrorist plot by means of government agents infiltrating a terrorist network. Terrorists believe they are dealing with co-conspirators only to find they have been dealing with government agents. The problem facing the terrorists is an asymmetric information problem which introduces quality uncertainty into the network of terrorist interactions—terrorists cannot be sure that their affiliates or co-conspirators are of high quality or low quality (that is, not co-conspirators at all but government agents). The economic theory of asymmetric information can be utilised to analyse the limits of the effectiveness of the injection of government agents into terrorist networks. Terrorist network infiltration is likely one of the most effective anti-terrorism security operations. Not only can network infiltration generate the results that capture the attention of the popular press but network infiltration can destroy terrorist networks into which no government agents have actually been injected. Governments and their security agencies are advised to consider the resources allocated towards this type of anti-terrorism security operation.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2011 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright restrictions.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Business and Law - School of Accounting, Economics and Finance
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2011 02:05
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2019 05:58
Uncontrolled Keywords: terrorist; terrorism; terrorist network; asymmetric information; quality uncertainty; government agents
Fields of Research : 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150311 Organisational Behaviour
14 Economics > 1401 Economic Theory > 140104 Microeconomic Theory
16 Studies in Human Society > 1602 Criminology > 160204 Criminological Theories
Socio-Economic Objective: A Defence > 81 Defence > 8101 Defence > 810107 National Security
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1080/19361610.2011.580263
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/19410

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