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UMD Student's GEOINT Internship Exceeds Expectations


UMD Student's GEOINT Internship Exceeds Expectations

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Fatima Mahmood, University of Maryland class of 2017

Incident Locations and Geospatial Intelligence InternFall 2016


As the semester is winding down and final exams are quickly approaching, I find myself reflecting back at my first experience working with START as an intern in the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) with Incident Locations and Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT). Prior to the START internship, I did not have much applied experience working with a large database containing terrorist incidents. I was a student in the Federal Semester Homeland Security Policy Program, a selective program for UMD students interested in Homeland and National Security, which combines a fall semester course taught by expert practitioners with enrichment events and workshops throughout the year to help students excel in professional internships and careers in the future. I was able to use all of the information and knowledge I have gained through the Federal Semester program and my Homeland Security course to help me be successful at my internship with START.

As a GTD intern, I regularly used the Global Terrorism Database (GTD) to research and code terrorism incidents using government reports and local and international newspapers. The Global Terrorism Database (GTD) is the most comprehensive unclassified open source terrorism database, containing information on more than 150,000 domestic and international terrorist attacks since 1970. I used information provided in the database to analyze open source articles in order to conduct geospatial analysis of terrorist incidents. In addition, I researched and coded incidents based on geographic location and various other attributes. I mainly focused on attacks in Iraq and Syria, and I was able to use my Arabic language skills to pinpoint the exact location of the terrorist incidents. This helped me to gain in depth understanding of terrorism hotspots globally with higher concentrations in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. I have gained extensive experience working with the largest open-source data collection project on terrorism, and I have learned valuable information about data analysis.

I came into this internship knowing I would be making a difference, whether small or big, in terrorism research. Data from the Global Terrorism Database is used widely by agencies such as the Department of State (DOS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), policy makers, and many others to help in making better informed policy decisions about terrorism and combating terrorism. As my last day at my internship is approaching, I leave knowing that I did make a substantial impact in terrorism research. I will be using all the skills I have gained and knowledge I have learned in my future career as a law enforcement agent. I look forward to working alongside the men and women who work every day to keep us safe and to contribute in fighting the war against terrorism. My enlightening and enriching experience at START has inspired me to continue working hard in order to reach my ultimate dream of becoming a law enforcement agent. For that, I will forever be grateful and thankful to START, my supervisor, my co-interns, the GTD staff, the Federal Semester staff, and everyone who helped make this incredible experience possible and provided fantastic learning opportunities and educational experiences that I will never forget.