Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Operational Sciences

First Advisor

Stephen E. Baumert, PhD


There are many types of models for counterterrorism, explaining different problems that the military faces in the fight against terrorism. This thesis proposes that one of the fundamental assumptions underlying existing models of counterterrorism is that the struggle with terrorists can be understood as a war in the traditional sense of the term. We propose to rethink the struggle against terrorism as a fight against an infection. The epidemic of terrorist ideology within part of the world is a result, from this perspective, of the infectiousness of that ideology. Using the insights of the field of the epidemiology of ideas, this research looks into the models and methods used to understand and fight biological epidemics. We work with the SIR model from mathematical epidemiology, which partitions populations into susceptible, infected, and recovered categories, and apply that model with notional starting rates to the epidemic of terrorist ideology. This research allows another set of assumptions for models used in counterterrorism because the insights gained from viewing terrorism as a symptom of an epidemic can expand our understanding of the problem that we fight.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number