This article explains variation across the characteristics and structure of Al-Shabaab (AS) networks as a function of strategic repertoires. From a comparison of domestic and transnational AS recruitment and fundraising networks in the United States, the article generates hypotheses about the characteristics and structure of networks and how traits such as brokers, centrality characteristics of nodes, international linkages and use of funds are related to a network's purpose. The implications of these observations are twofold: The nature of a terror organisation's network is indicative of the organisation's strategy; conversely, the organisation's strategy will affect the nature of the network. On the one hand, knowing the function of the network makes it possible to counter it by detecting and debilitating the nodes. On the other hand, knowing the structure of a network makes it possible to surmise its purpose. The article concludes that, from a network perspective, terrorist recruitment and fundraising are distinct problems that require differentiated law-enforcement and security-intelligence approaches.
- social network analysis
- United States