Osama bin Laden inspired data analysis & data visualization

Data visualization and Business Intelligence demonstrate the link between terrorism and political stability

Whether you venerate it, detest it, or feel ambivalent towards it, there’s one certainty – it’s true. Osama bin Laden is dead (we’re not into conspiracy theories). Bin Laden’s death comes almost 10 years after the War on Terror began, catapulting terrorism back to the top of the news media agenda (though since 2001 it’s never been far away from peoples’ nightmares, politicians’ speeches and the media spotlight).

At Yellowfin, we do not wish to pass judgment on this recent event. But we do think it’s thought provoking and worth analyzing.

We all understand the political implications that surround violence and terrorism, or simply the threat of danger and bloodshed. It doesn’t matter from which angle, political persuasion, alliance, culture or country you approach it from; terrorism and violence (or their absence) have a definite effect on political stability.

By using data analysis and data visualization, we’re able to examine the impact of terrorism/violence on the political stability of various countries between 1996 and 2009.


Today’s data visualization and data analysis is brought to you by: Yellowfin; now making Business Intelligence even easier.

A note on metrics

The metric DataMarket have used on the vertical (Y) axis of this dataset – Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism – is unclear. However, through suitable investigation, we believe it’s reasonable to assume the Y-axis represents political stability. The exact numeric rating system remains uncertain.

Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism between 1996 and 2009 in Australia, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland

The first noticeable trend is that all the lines are clustered together at the top of the graph. Australia, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland are all, comparatively, free of political angst and turmoil caused by violence/terrorism.

Largely, they are politically stable nations, free from terrorism/violence and/or the threat of it. The political neutrality of Nordic nations also allows them to avoid being caught-up in the political unrest that surrounds such violent events. Australia’s high political stability rating dips slightly after the events of September 11 2001, sliding from 1.26 in 2000, to .934 in 2003, to .835 in 2009. While Australia hasn’t been the direct victim of any terrorist attacks, the heightened threat since 2001 has meant Australia has been feeling the political heat.

Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism between 1996 and 2009 in Thailand

Modern Thailand has been plagued by political unrest and separatist violence. Whilst there were only relatively few incidents between 1993 and 2000, from 2001/02 onwards, there has been an increase in the number of violent events. In 2001, there were around 50 insurgency-related incidents across the Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala regions. 2002 was worse, with 75 incidents, the most vicious seeing 50 police and soldiers killed. Some 119 incidents of separatist violence were recorded in 2003, and in 2004, over 500 people were reported killed in over 900 insurgency-related incidents.

In September 2006, Army Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant General Sonthi Boonyaratglin, led a successful coup, overthrowing the Prime Minister. Boonyaratglin cancelled the October elections, dissolved the Thai parliament, abolished the 1997 Constitution and arrested key ministers.

Threat of another military coup mounted in November 2008 as embattled Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, refused to resign following accusations by the Peoples’ Alliance for Democracy that he was a puppet of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

More anti-government riots plagued 2009, with a State of Emergency declared, as protesters in Bangkok demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism between 1996 and 2009 in the West Bank and Gaza, Afghanistan and Iraq

The political unrest linked to violence/terrorism in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Afghanistan and Iraq, is both well known, and well publicized.

The ongoing dispute in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has seen the repeated breakdown of talks, littered with violent/divisive incidents, including the al-Aqsa Intifada of 2000, and the controversial Disengagement Plan, just to name a few.

Afghanistan has been beleaguered by Civil Wars from 1992 to 2001. The Taliban took control in 1996, establishing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Following the Taliban’s rise to power in 1996, the Northern Alliance was formed by Ahmad Shah Massoud and Abdul Rashid Dostum, in an effort to fight their rule.

Massoud was killed by Al Qaeda suicide bombers on September 9, 2001. Then, after the events of September 11 of that year, the United States and Britain identified Osama bin Laden as the mastermind behind the infamous World Trade Center attacks, initiating a bombing campaign on Al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. They also assisted the Northern Alliance in a broad scale ground offensive against Taliban forces.

The Republic of Iraq was subject the rule of Saddam Hussein from 1979 to 2003.

His rein is remembered for its socio-political instability and violence, as well as several conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War, the First Gulf War and the Second Gulf War of 2003. The 2003 US-led invasion removed Hussein from power. Iraq has been teetering on the brink of Civil War since.

Political Stability and Absence of Violence/Terrorism between 1996 and 2009 in Pakistan

What may be surprising to some, is that Pakistan’s political stability rating was equal lowest with Afghanistan on –2.75 as of 2009. However, with Osama bin Laden and his secret hideout recently found in Pakistan, many would now be aware of the political pressures and instabilities faced by Pakistan as a result of terrorism/violence.

Whilst never in positive territory from 1996 to 2009, Pakistan’s political stability rating takes a noticeable dive around 2000. In October of 1999, Nawaz Sharif was removed from office and placed under house arrest when he tried to oust General Pervez Musharraf. Sharif was then sentenced to life in prison in April of 2000, accused of hijacking and terrorism. In May of 2000, General Musharraf, with the backing of the Supreme Court, was given executive and legislative authority for three years, surviving an assassination attempt in December 2003. In 2005, the government of Pakistan launched a campaign to crackdown on the nations prevalent extremist factions. Come 2007, Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan after eight years in exile, as did Sharif in November after fleeing to Saudi Arabia in 2000. In December that year, Pakistan’s Constitution was finally restored, only to have Bhutto assassinated in an attack in Rawalpindi later that month.

In 2009, the Pakistani government made a truce with the Taliban. The Swat Valley quickly became a Taliban stronghold. In March, militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team’s bus, resulting in the suspension of all Pakistan hosted international cricket matches. In May, the Pakistani army began an extensive operation aimed at ridding the Swat Valley of Taliban forces.

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