Modeling and analyzing terrorist behavior within the aviation security environment

Leticia J. Pacheco, John E. Kobza, Sheldon H. Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The rise in terrorist incidents occurring in the late 1960s and early 1970s, initiated a call for tighter security measures at U.S. airports. In response several deterrent actions were taken: 1. Airlines were authorized to deny transportation to anyone refusing search of his/her person or baggage, 2. Electronic surveillance was initiated (such as camera surveillance), 3. Behavioral profiling was devised by the FAA to identify potential hijackers, and 4. A sky marshal program was created that placed federal officers aboard aircraft on long distance flights and at several airports. Initially these actions seemed to have a positive effect since there was a decrease in successful incidents in 1970 and 1971. Unfortunately in 1972 there was a surge of incidents that led to a call for more action. As a result, sky marshals were removed from aircraft and placed on duty in airports and funds were allocated for the purchase of electronic detection devices. Moreover, a presidential directive was issued for 100 percent screening of passengers and mandatory screening of carry-on baggage. Furthermore, all airports were required to have armed guards at all boarding gates. Any carriers failing to meet these mandates were subject to fines and unwelcome publicity [1]. The deterrence actions taken in response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001 reflect those established in the 1970s. Following September 11th, airports across the U.S. were required to have armed guards at terminals, sky marshals were placed on aircraft, stricter screening procedures went into effect, and additional funds were allocated for the purchase of detection devices. It is not clear how effective these measures will be at deterring or detecting terrorist actions. It is evident that the terrorist activity of today is not the terrorist activity of the 1970s. What was once a ploy for political or financial gain has transformed into a strategy aimed at the general public with unspecified demands. In addition, the availability of weapons of mass destruction creates the potential for significant loss of life. As a result, there is a need for more sophisticated technology, operating procedures, and intelligence to detect and deter the weapons, bombs, and potential perpetrators trying to board our airliners. The difficulty lies in determining how to allocate resources to achieve the best outcome. The threat of terrorism on U.S. soil has made security a top priority for the current administration as evidenced by the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. This research supports the prediction, prevention, and detection of terrorist activity. This research provides a mathematical tool for modeling the human element of terrorist behavior while incorporating current detection capability and sanctions imposed in response to that behavior. It provides a management tool for allocating resources to those areas that achieve the most deterrence. The focus application will be aviation security, however the intent is to provide a tool that can be used in any area of security or law enforcement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
StatePublished - 2004
EventIIE Annual Conference and Exhibition 2004 - Houston, TX, United States
Duration: May 15 2004May 19 2004


OtherIIE Annual Conference and Exhibition 2004
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHouston, TX


  • Continuous-time
  • Decision-making
  • Deterrence
  • Markov chain
  • Terrorism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Modeling and analyzing terrorist behavior within the aviation security environment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this