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Mapping the Travel Geography of the 9/11 Network

This article models the geography of the 9/11 network member’s many travels from the moment the hijackers first boarded a plane to the United States until they killed 2,977 people on September 11, 2001. Building on publicly available sources, and for the first time in the literature, we address the spatiality of the terrorist network through two related concepts.

First, we focus on co-location and show that the scale and sophistication of the 9/11 attacks did not require co-presence to be successful. Individuals from a cell did not spend most of their time together.

We then focus on co-destination and find that the need for coordination required that the 9/11 hijackers followed the same itineraries between cities. In other words, the travel geography of the four Al Qaeda cells responsible for the attacks closely mirrors the network’s cell-based social structure.

Then as now, the case of the 9/11 attacks suggests that spatializing social networks is an important window to understanding the emergence of terrorist networks and disrupting their patterns.

O.J. Walther, R. Prieto-Curiel, J. Padron, J. Scheuer, Mapping the Travel Geography of the 9/11 Network, The Professional Geographer DOI: 10.1080/00330124.2023.2199324.

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