Mapping a dark network with Social Network Analysis (SNA): the right wing Vaal Dam bomb plot

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 17
  • SDG 16
  • Abstract:

    The use of Social Network Analysis (SNA) to map dark, i.e. illegal, networks gained momentum after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York, and numerous studies have been conducted that map Islamic extremist organisations. This article follows international studies and contemporary practices in military intelligence in using SNA to map the ties of the members of the Southern right wing group plot to blow up the Vaal Dam, who were arrested in 2002 and subsequently convicted of sabotage. It is shown how the leader of the plot consistently scores highest on betweenness, degree, and closeness centrality, and that he played an important role as broker between the Southern and the Northern groups (better known as the Boeremag). Ties between the two right wing groups are also discussed, along with the important structural roles that their meeting places played.