December 17, 2013
News /
Posted by NCID

The paper was presented by Javier Gardeázabal from the University of the Basque Country. It is a joint work with Todd Sandler – University of Texas at Dallas. The research focused on the role that Mobile/Fixed INTERPOL Network Database (MIND/FIND) has played in the War on Terror. MIND/FIND allows countries to systematically screen people and documents at border crossings against INTERPOL databases.

“INTERPOL has 190 member countries, whose assigned membership fees mostly fund the organization’s staff, infrastructure, and operations” began Javier, “accessible 24 hours over a restricted-access internet portal”.

“One key difference between MIND and FIND,” continued Javier, “is that FIND allows real-time online access to INTERPOL databases, while MIND – the offline copy – contains a copy of these databases and is updated within 48 hours.”

The data was collected from the INTERPOL General Secretariat (IPGS) and only countries that carried out a total of more than 1000 searches per year in the MIND/FIND network were considered. “The goal of the paper was to assess the effect of the MIND/FIND network on transnational terrorism using the treatment-effects methodology”.

However, researchers had to address several concerns in their methodology. To begin with the empirical analysis was based on a small sample limited by the number of countries and data, although it constituted almost the entire population of countries. Secondly, countries were not randomly assigned to treatment and control groups as in randomized experiments. The distributions of the variables that affect the outcome had to be balanced across treatment and control groups through a pre-analysis covariate rebalancing process. Thirdly, The War on Terror is considered to be a weakest-link problem. That is, world security depends on the level of security in the least-secure country. Therefore, it could be argued that MIND/FIND adoption by a country might deflect some transnational terrorist incidents to countries, where this technology is not used, thus reducing the Transnational Terrorist Incidence Rate (TTIR) in treated countries and increasing the TTIR in untreated countries.

The results from the analysis indicated that INTERPOL countries that adopted MIND/FIND and also applied it to screen people and documents at border crossings and other key points suffered fewer transnational terrorist incidents than the control group.  “In conclusion,” said Javier, if “a country with a population above 64 million like France would have had one half fewer transnational terrorist incidents... a sizeable proportional reduction of 39 per cent!...which I would say,... is a lot!”