In the six-degrees-of-separation way of looking at things, we’re all linked up, because everbody knows somebody-who-knows-somebody and so on. But in a practical sense, we are meaningfully connected to somebody only when our chain of connection is shorter than the everybody-is-linked chain.
In an even more day-to-day sense, practical links top off at two, or three if one of those links is particularly tight. I know someone working at an advocacy group in Washington, DC; he works with a Senator. It’s fair to presume that this Senator could introduce me to that Senator. It’s fair to presume that he could use that Senator to gain introduction to another Senator, or another advocate. It’s not fair to presume that he could impose upon that Senator to introduce me to that other person, though if they were strong acquaintances, he might be able to do so.
I’m skeptical of the notion that the chain extends beyond that; and so I’m connected to that person, but only in the way that I’m connected to all other people.
Presumably, this is true not just of an individual’s connection to other individuals, but of their connection to groups, and of an organization’s connection to other organizations. This may have implications for determining whether or not a person is a member of a terrorist organization, or whether an organization is a terrorist organization by virtue of its links to other organizations.
But if that was true, one could hide organizations by lengthening the chain of middle-men. Perhaps that’s the difference between a legitimate organization and a front: the former serves to distance groups from each other, while the latter only pretends to do so.
In the meantime, if I was your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate, we would indeed be absolutely nothing.