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Statistical Analysis of Event Data Concerning Boko Haram in Nigeria (2009-2013)


Using ICEWS and GTD data concerning Nigeria and Boko Haram from 2009 through 2013, this report
draws on two distinct statistical methodologies to estimate which kinds of activities alter the frequency of
terrorist events and which kinds of activities reduce the probability of future terrorist events.
To assess the probability of future terrorist events, I simulate the effects of nine distinct scenarios to see
the effect this change will have on the predicted probability of terrorist incidence in the following month.

These nine scenarios are:

1. A single military operation in a state
2. Multiple military operations in a state
3. A single police operation in a state
4. Multiple police operations in a state
5. A single vigilante operation in a state
6. Multiple vigilante operations in a state
7. Combined vigilante and military operation in a state
8. Boko Haram operations against police
9. Boko Haram operations against military

As a result of both analyses, this report substantiates the following seven claims:

1. The triggering event that began increasing the frequency of Boko Haram's attacks is likely the jail
break of September 2010 in Bauchi.
2. The largest increase in the frequency of terrorist evidence occurred in 2012. Although the
frequency was reduced somewhat in 2013, it was still above its pre‐2012 baseline.
3. In 2013, despite fewer attacks, the successful Boko Haram's terrorist incidents generate more
4. Vigilantes have been the most effective vehicle at disrupting the ability of Boko Haram to execute
terrorist attacks in successive months.
5. Military operations increased risk in Nigeria by increasing the frequency of terrorist events, as
well as the probability that an attack will happen in the following month. The more military
operations there are, the more that probability of a terrorist attack in the following month
6. Combined vigilante and military operations reduce whatever increased risk that military
operations cause concerning the probability of a terrorist attack in the following month.
7. The most effective interventions at reducing the probability of future terrorist attacks are
sustained police operations in the previous month.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Stevenson, John. "Statistical Analysis of Event Data Concerning Boko Haram in Nigeria (2009-2013)," Report to the Strategic Multilayer Assessment Office, Department of Defense, and the Office of University Programs, Department of Homeland Security. College Park MD: START, January 2014. www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_SMA-AFRICOM_StatisticalAnalysis_Jan2015.pdf

START Author(s):