The lab has built simulations of Hamas and al-Qaida by dumping newspaper articles and other publicly available information about the organizations into a computer database. A program then takes that information and looks for patterns and relationships between individuals. It finds weak and strong figures, power brokers, hidden relationships and people with crucial skills.If I were interested in academia I'd love to do a post-doc at CASOS, the lab that generated these results. There's interesting work in industry too, though, that I'm looking into.
Then another program can predict what would happen if a specific individual were removed from the organization. After Israel's assassination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in March, the program correctly predicted he would be succeeded by hard-liner Abdel Azziz Rantisi.
Three weeks later Israel assassinated Rantisi as well. Carley's lab predicted that Hamas political director Khaled Mashaal would succeed him, and posted its pick on the Internet.
This time, Hamas declined to reveal who had taken power for fear he too would be assassinated. But eventually it became known that Mashaal was indeed the one.
At that point, Carley said, "we were told to quit putting such predictions on the Web" by federal officials.