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Systematic analysis in counterterrorism: Messages on an Islamist Internet-forum


Renfer, Marc; Haas, Henriette (2008). Systematic analysis in counterterrorism: Messages on an Islamist Internet-forum. International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 21(2):314-336.

Abstract

Five easily memorized formulas of Systematic Observation help the analyst to be a more proficient observer and to make sure that nothing has been left out. They are:
I. Compare the object of observation to models or to similar cases.
II. Separate formal aspects from the contents and analyze them separately.
III. Structure the object into functional elements, and explore every one of them.
IV. Explore inconsistencies, contradictions, mistakes, or astonishing coincidences.
V. Discover the absence of signs (negative signs of evidence).
Only after going through the process of systematically registering every import detail, we are able to draw first hypotheses. Then, hypotheses must be checked for their plausibility in listing systematically every sign for and every sign against them, as well as all indeterminate signs, too, in order to get a clear view of the case, and to ensure the best use of the available intelligence. It is true that the consequent use of those formulas demands a considerable initial effort which can only be afforded in cases of some importance. But with experience and routine analysts will grasp much more signs of evidence right from the beginning, and save themselves a lot of unnecessary work that can be caused by pursuing wrong assumptions. In the long run, the assembled inventory of signs evidence does not loose its value. Undoubtedly, by applying the presented rules of systematic observation, the result of our work will be of higher analytical value.

Abstract

Five easily memorized formulas of Systematic Observation help the analyst to be a more proficient observer and to make sure that nothing has been left out. They are:
I. Compare the object of observation to models or to similar cases.
II. Separate formal aspects from the contents and analyze them separately.
III. Structure the object into functional elements, and explore every one of them.
IV. Explore inconsistencies, contradictions, mistakes, or astonishing coincidences.
V. Discover the absence of signs (negative signs of evidence).
Only after going through the process of systematically registering every import detail, we are able to draw first hypotheses. Then, hypotheses must be checked for their plausibility in listing systematically every sign for and every sign against them, as well as all indeterminate signs, too, in order to get a clear view of the case, and to ensure the best use of the available intelligence. It is true that the consequent use of those formulas demands a considerable initial effort which can only be afforded in cases of some importance. But with experience and routine analysts will grasp much more signs of evidence right from the beginning, and save themselves a lot of unnecessary work that can be caused by pursuing wrong assumptions. In the long run, the assembled inventory of signs evidence does not loose its value. Undoubtedly, by applying the presented rules of systematic observation, the result of our work will be of higher analytical value.

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Additional indexing

Contributors:Urs von Daeniken
Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:Systematic, Analysis, Observation, Hypothesis, Abduction, Decision, Sign of evidence, intelligence, terrorism
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:24 Feb 2014 10:25
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 17:34
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0885-0607
Additional Information:This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Renfer, Marc; Haas, Henriette (2008). Systematic analysis in counterterrorism: Messages on an Islamist Internet-forum. International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, 21(2):314-336j. copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/08850600701854359.
Free access at:Official URL. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/08850600701854359

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