Detectives Track Terrorists By Starlight
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Seattle last week presented a simulation of an effort to thwart a terrorist attack, using its advanced software programs. The six-day scenario, which involved a spike in radiation from a ground-based detector in Pakistan and the outbreak of a plague in India, at a time when suspected terrorists were making travel arrangements, was condensed into an hourlong exercise for military and government officials.
The simulation gave the lab, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, an opportunity to show how IT can help in the fight against terrorism. Among the IT tools demonstrated in the exercise was the Starlight program, which is capable of sorting and categorizing a vast amount of random information, such as social and business connections and travel histories, very quickly.
For the exercise, the lab’s cybersecurity team used the software to scan all information available on members of the terrorist organization, and the random information began to show signs of links, and ultimately gave way to patterns of association. The clues allowed law enforcement authorities to prevent the terrorists from setting off a dirty bomb and exploding sarin gas on a ferry.
Those who witnessed the exercise say much of the technology is already in use or is being developed. “We just need to get more buy-in from everyone to support development of this kind of a coordinated, systems approach,” says Cmdr. Steve McLaughlin, a terrorism expert who is the executive officer of Naval Station Everett.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the eattle Post-Intelligencer (12/13/05) P. A1; Paulson, ToM.