Group to launch terrorist database

Web-based system seeks to provide authorities with terrorist info.

Terrorism Knowledge Base

A new system with detailed historical information on terrorism could become the first stop for first responders and other government officials developing strategies to prevent incidents nationwide, experts said Wednesday.

The Terrorism Knowledge Base is the latest Web-based resource from the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, a nonprofit organization in Oklahoma City. The institute developed three solutions, which also include the Lessons Learned Information System and the Responder Knowledge Base, with funding from the Justice and Homeland Security departments.

This system provides open-source, unclassified information on international and domestic terrorism, pulling information from a database of terrorist incident information maintained since 1968 by Rand, nonprofit research organization. It also incorporates links to original court documents pertaining to suspected terrorists.

The institute's analysis tools collect this information and allow officials to compare and sort the information. A wizard tool takes users through a step-by-step process to find the information they want.

The Rand database had not been available to the public or much of government until now, and it provides information about groups, individuals, incidents, tactics and other issues that can provide critical context when developing a prevention and response strategy, said James Ellis, research and program coordinator for the project at the institute.

"A lot of people, when they're doing that kind of planning, they're always trying to think hypothetically, theoretically, what might terrorists do," Ellis said. "That's fine, but why don't we look at what they actually have done over the last several decades, and use that to be able to have real-world data to support them."

Using open-source terrorist information from public and private sources is one of the recommendations of the 9-11 Commission, said Lloyd Salvetti, a former officer with the CIA and a consultant to the commission. It is an important complimentary resource for the intelligence community and first responders, he said.

For first responders at the federal, state and local levels of government, the systems fill a void by providing information in a resource that even those who are not technology-savvy can use, said Suzanne Mencer, director of DHS' Office for Domestic Preparedness.

"Whenever you can look at historically what has occurred in a particular area, that gives you some indication of the potential for what may occur in the future," she said. "This is an indicator, ... one tool in the toolbox for the investigator, for the academic, or anyone that is in the decision-making process."

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