Background


Black Spots are areas around the world that are:

1) outside of effective, recognized, governmental control
2) dominated by illicit social structures (e.g. criminal organizations; terrorist groups; warlords etc.)
3) capable of breeding and exportation of insecurity (e.g. criminal activities; terrorist acts) to faraway locations

It is important to emphasize that Black Spots are not  the same as failed, failing, or weak states and certainly should not be classified or perceived as ungoverned territories (since they do have governance structures, albeit not formal).  Black Spots may, however, be located within any of  the aforementioned entities/territories and it is our task to scan for them, pinpoint them, and monitor them.

Black Spots constitute a considerable security challenge because they are largely invisible to the outside world. Our project discovers Black Spots through the triangulation of data regarding anomalous events and transfers in particular regions of the globe.  Consider several examples:  the Federally Administered Tribal Areas that are formally part of Pakistan but are most likely the current home of Osama bin Laden and the leadership of al-Qaeda, elements of the Taliban, and various insurgent groups. Parts of South Ossetia, a contested part of the state of Georgia and the place where the Georgians and Russians clashed militarily in August of 2008, is another such area.  And the St. Regis/Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation that crosses the border between the State of New York and Ontario/Quebec is still another example that is outside the effective government control of either country and facilitates the smuggling of illicit products and people through the border without being detected.

 

E-mail contact: ssbrown@maxwell.syr.edu