MAINTAINING PUBLIC ORDER DURING LARGE SCALE EVENTS USING OSINT
Large crowds inevitably represent a higher risk for public disorder. As one of the biggest crowd drawers, it comes as no surprise that sports events represent a unique obstacle for law enforcement and security agencies. Disorderly behavior amongst opposing teams’ supporters has been common since the beginning of sports. Loyalty to a team creates an unbreakable bond between its supporters while establishing a fierce rivalry towards any supporter of an opposing team, leading to violent behavior. As sport-related violence increases and poses a threat to stadium goers and other spectators, law enforcement and security agencies can greatly benefit from monitoring these groups, to be prepared, use their resources efficiently and effectively and eventually reduce and prevent such events and their traumatic impact.
A New Wave of “Hooliganism”
“Hooliganism” is the term used to describe disorderly, aggressive, and often violent behavior perpetrated mostly by spectators of sporting events but not only. It includes any form of confrontation between opposing fans which occurs before, during, or after the match either at the stadium or elsewhere, including the internet. As the world digitalizes, more and more acts by hooliganism are being perpetrated on online. By monitoring new media channels, fan groups and sports forums, investigators can bear witness to the escalation of tension between fans, prevent online violence and obtain actionable intelligence to be leveraged by law enforcement for the protection of all sport spectators during events.
Digital Clues’ investigation centered around a notorious German hooligan group, fans of Dortmund, known as the Borussenfront, in an effort to identify group leaders and alert local German authorities about possible threats to public safety during upcoming sporting events.
Creating an Organization’s Blacklist to Prevent Central POIs from Entering Events
The investigators identified various Facebook pages related to the Borussenfront by employing proprietary technology available through the ProFoundTM platform. Using the platform’s collection and analysis capabilities, they were able to enrich the information related to this group and its followers, eventually leading them to a prominent Borussenfront member. This individual became the investigation’s main person of interest (POI), after open source intelligence confirmed his position as one of the leaders of the Borussenfront group and his previous involvement in hooliganism.
To gain further insights regarding the person of interest and his involvement in hooliganism, the investigators conducted a wide OSINT search, surfacing the POI’s phone number. The phone number was then used as the input to generate a one-click intelligence report via ProFilerTM. The report provided even more intelligence including the POI’s social media accounts, additional phone numbers and other insights. Knowing that hooligans frequently mention their football club of preference as their “work” on Facebook, investigators turned their attention to the individual’s Facebook account.
Utilizing ProFoundTM mass data analysis and advanced connection grouping capabilities, the investigators pinpointed other active members of the Borussenfront and identified additional new media channels to monitor. They then created a blacklist of Borussenfront hooligans and flagged its members for further monitoring while shifting their attention to an identified Telegram channel.
The investigators collected all intelligence regarding the Telegram channels members and the content being shared. Since the Telegram group included fans from across the world, the investigators filtered the results to only include content related to sporting events and fans from “Germany”. Continuous monitoring of the Telegram group via the ProFoundTM platform enabled investigators to collect further intelligence on individuals on the blacklist and flag additional Borussenfront members. Email alerts to inform the investigators when new relevant content was published were enabled and provided real-time access to actionable intelligence during sporting events. Through this intelligence, the investigators were able to map out the location of hooligans in stadium during matches, in turn allowing law enforcement to better protect spectators and distribute their resources accordingly.
Leveraging OSINT to Prevent Threats in Real-Time
OSINT tools provide investigators the ability to perform real-time collection, analysis and reporting of information, thus turning unstructured data into actionable intelligence within minutes. By using the above mentioned capabilities along with Geo-Fencing around sporting event arenas as well as HUMINT, law enforcement can leverage real-time OSINT intelligence to prevent hooliganism and other criminal activities thus ensuring public safety. Additionally, long term monitoring can aid decipher organizational structure and foil future acts of violence. In times of COVID-19, when crowded events are not taking place, Hooligans and extremist groups are participating in other events, such as riots and protests and act violently. Using Digital Clues platforms and methodology can bring much value for the detection and prevention of hooligan activities.