A Spatial Analysis of Terrorist Kidnapping Incidents in Afghanistan



Regan, Alison

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Since October 2001, United States forces have been engaged in Afghanistan. A primary objective has been to eliminate the threat of Taliban and of Al Qaeda in the country. The U.S.-backed-post-Taliban government has struggled to exercise full control over the country, particularly in the rural tribal regions. A Taliban insurgency, supported by Al Qaeda, continues in the east and south near the country’s border with Pakistan. Insurgents maintain these footholds through terror and intimidation. This thesis uses geospatial intelligence methods to identify districts of Afghanistan that featured clusters of kidnapping attacks in the period from 2005 to 2014. The information presented in this paper can be used to strategically prioritize outreach and training, and to improve critical governance structures, particularly the Afghan National Police (ANP) and supporting Afghan National Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF). Improvement of the ANP and ANSDF in these locations may strengthen rule of law, the judicial process, and the public’s confidence in law enforcement. This would in turn improve overall governance and state security. This study uses data from the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database, which houses information on terrorist events around the world from 1970-2014. The database includes a total of 551 kidnapping incidents in Afghanistan from 2005-2014. Geostatistical methods, including hot-spot analysis and spatial autocorrelation, are used to identify clusters of kidnapping incidents in two year aggregate periods. Districts and regions consistently included in clusters, or identified as outliers, could be prioritized as high risk areas that could benefit from the strengthening of ANSDF structures.



Geography, Afghanistan, Spatial autocorrelation, Kidnapping, Terrorism