Saddam Hussein and Social Mapping

February 6, 2013

by Ghayass Rabi Tarraf

Few of us are aware that analyzing the social environment of Saddam Hussein led to his capture in December 2003. Saddam Hussein surely didn’t have a facebook account nor a linkedin profile, but he had real social connections in terms of relatives, friends and contacts.

In an article by Victoria Hougham for the American Sociological Association (ASA), Major Brian Reed explains the approach: “The intelligence background and link diagrams that we built were rooted in the concepts of network analysis. We constructed an elaborate product that traced the tribal and family linkages of Saddam Hussein thereby allowing us to focus on certain individuals who may have had (or presently had) close ties to [him],” said Reed. You can read the complete article “Sociological Kills Used in the Capture of Saddam Hussein” here.

Today social network analysis tools are all the rage. With NodeXL®, for example, you can analyze, visualize and quantify connections between any defined entities within their social networks. The importance of such analysis in terms of Sales Intelligence is invaluable, since it allows you to get an overview of the environment in which a brand or a prospect operates.

The social map created by a NodeXL user named Marc_Smith shows the network of 874 Twitter users whose tweets contained “bigdata” or “big data”. Marc_Smith also provided a segmentation of the twitters and responders and listed the twitted URLs.


Let’s imagine for a moment that one of those mapped twitter users is your customer or competitor: you can now have an extremely clear picture of his interests and connections.

You may argue that this type of tools works very well for B2C and for personal usage and that you can’t use this to know more and in a timely manner about companies, products, markets and so on and you would be right.

Squirro is the tool you need to get actionable contextual intelligence from the web and from social networks that is valuable and relevant for B2B. One thing Squirro can’t do though…. capturing Saddam Hussein.