Terror Queues and the Duration of Terror Plots



Edward H. Kaplan,

Date and Time

April 10, 2012 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



By Invitation Only.

RSVP required by 5PM April 09.


CISAC Conference Room

About the topic: What could queueing theory, the science of customer flows and delays in service systems, possibly offer towards understanding and countering terrorism? In terror queue models, newly hatched terror plots correspond to newly arriving customers, the number of ongoing terror plots corresponds to the queue of customers waiting to receive service, undercover agents or informants correspond to service providers, customer service is initiated when a terror plot is detected, and service is completed when the plot is interdicted. Not all plots are interdicted; successful terror attacks correspond to customers who abandon the queue without receiving service! Building upon these ideas, we will focus our attention upon a simple observation: other things being equal, the number of ongoing terror plots increases with the duration of time from plot initiation until execution or interdiction (whichever comes first), yet no estimate of the probability distribution governing terror plot duration has appeared in the open literature. Starting with a review of US terrorism-related indictments, lower and upper bounds for the initiation date of 30 distinct Jihadi plots were identified in addition to the date of arrest or an attempted/actual terror act. Accounting for the censoring and truncation effects inherent with these data; the estimated mean duration equals 9 months, while 95% of all plots are estimated to fall between 1 and 25 months. These estimates suggest that in the United States, on average approximately three ongoing Jihadi terror plots have been active at any point in time since 9/11/2001.

About the Speaker: Edward H. Kaplan is the William N. and Marie A. Beach Professor of Management Sciences, Professor of Public Health, and Professor of Engineering at Yale University’s School of Management who is currently on sabbatical as Distinguished Visiting Professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. The author of more than 125 research articles, Kaplan received both the Lanchester Prize and the Edelman Award, two top honors in the operations research field, among many other awards. An elected member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academies, Kaplan’s current research focuses on the application of operations research to problems in counterterrorism and homeland security. 

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