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Thread: HUMINT, Informants and more (merged thread)

  1. #21
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Lessons known, learnt?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Michael C said:

    This has certainly become the conventional wisdom but it doesn't square with my experience. Police make extensive use of paid informants and coercion is routinely used successfully in both law enforcement and military circles. My experience in Iraq further lead me to become automatically suspicious of anyone who provided me with "free" information. They usually had an agenda. People like to speak in absolutes like these but, in my experience, they rarely hold up to close scrutiny.

    SFC W
    The police can make extensive use of informants, but in the UK use appears to have reduced. Partly as there is no extensive legislation and procedures to follow. Secondly informant handling is now for specialists only. At one point experienced handlers were referring old informants to use Crimestoppers, as it was far more secure and paid just as well. In Northern Ireland, many of the police handlers have left and it is a moot point if the coverage Wilf refers to now exists.

    An important point - for all law enforcement - is that everyone understands what to do when someone offers to help; usually referred to as "walk-in's". Many in the informant handling field refer to these being the best sources, usually as their motivation is easier to identify and develop.

    It can also work in an opposite way. In Northern Ireland a UK Customs officer accompanied a friend to an Army base to complain about his friend being roughed up. The officer he spoke to was offensive and rude (understandably as his regiment had lost men in the days before). The Customs officer became the local PIRA intelligence officer, with an ideal cover to be in the South Armagh area and legally carried a gun.

    davidbfpo

  2. #22
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    This thread demonstrates the problem that LE in this country runs into all too frequently. Sure it's great when a walk-in comes in and provides useful information. The success of police tip lines and shows like America's Most Wanted certainly demonstrate that valuable information can gained from "walk-in sources." But there are limits to that. The type of people who report information because it is the right thing to do aren't typically the type of people to be directly involved in the activities they are reporting on. They can only report what they see from the outside. That means that in order to get "inside" information LE still has to get people who are directly involved to give that information up, either by the carrot (money, shortened prison terms etc.) or the stick (lengthened prison terms, higher charges etc.)

    It can also work in an opposite way. In Northern Ireland a UK Customs officer accompanied a friend to an Army base to complain about his friend being roughed up. The officer he spoke to was offensive and rude (understandably as his regiment had lost men in the days before). The Customs officer became the local PIRA intelligence officer, with an ideal cover to be in the South Armagh area and legally carried a gun.
    Wasn't it James Connelly or perhaps Michael Collins who bemoaned the fact that Irish Republican movement was shot through with informants? In fact, if memory serves, part of the reason that the Easter Uprising of 1916 was such a debacle was that British Intelligence used their network of informants to spread some disinformation.

    SFC W

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    Default A dirty little war ....

    The intelligence war between the British and Irish Intelligence Services, CIA Studies in Intelligence, V13:1-69-78 (Winter 1969)

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    Default When is information valuable?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Michael C said:


    This has certainly become the conventional wisdom but it doesn't square with my experience. Police make extensive use of paid informants and coercion is routinely used successfully in both law enforcement and military circles. My experience in Iraq further lead me to become automatically suspicious of anyone who provided me with "free" information. They usually had an agenda. People like to speak in absolutes like these but, in my experience, they rarely hold up to close scrutiny.

    SFC W
    Hello. I did outside the wire HUMINT in Iraq for 16 months, attached in direct support to a combat arms BN. For us it was a matter of finding people whose interests (self, family, tribe) coincided with ours at enough points to carefully time a pitch to cooperate. Sometimes this required the application of subtle but effective pressure. Arabs in general, but especially in Iraq, are experts in looking at angles for self preservation and are quick to detect bull####, while smiling to your face and telling you what they think you want to hear. Authentic self interest is the best motivator. Information in our AO was never given for altruistic reasons, or because it was the right thing to do. Ever. This is the hardest cultural lesson for beginning HUMINT folks to learn. In addition, less people over time will come forward to give accurate information to a unit whose actions derive from "movement to contact" command philosophy rather than "think to contact." Surgical and accurate kinetic operations, snatch and grabbing the right people with as small a footprint as possible, which begets more intelligence, which leads to more surgical ops....etc.. That's part of what gets people off the fence. I know S3's like to plan these large cordon and search operations, because they make great powerpoint presentations and have cool sounding code names, but shouldn't be done if smaller targeted ops are available. Again, just my experience: operations planned for the sake of operations. I've seen it. People won't risk coming forward if they don't think the unit can effectively act. 95% of our BN's kinetic operations were based on intel from my team, and were very targeted. The use of money: no problem. I don't mind paying thousands of dollars (MNCI Rewards program) to a source who is delivering HVT's. I have enough checks and balances in my AO to know when or if that is a bad idea and how to deal with it accordingly if it becomes a negative. I knew where my sources lived and who their enemies were. I wouldn't call it coercion, but we did eventually reach that point in our relationship where the source realized it might not be a good idea to screw us over. Like I said, mutual points of interest. It didn't have to be said, it was understood.

    Knowing where to put pressure in a family/tribally oriented society can reap rewards, including getting members of the insurgency giving you information. Schoolhouses tends to teach in terms of black and white, which is a natural CYA motivated behavior. Counterinsurgency and, I would imagine, LE street intelligence operations should be seeing shades of gray. It was surreal at times meeting covertly with people on our HVT list, and we always made sure we had the right leverage, but the bigger payoffs are what we were looking for and what we got. I would imagine that much of what works best isn't talked about or formally taught. One tends to look at things a little differently when soldiers are dying around you.

    I don't say my experience is normative for every HUMINT experience. I operated in a unique, isolated tribal area for 16 straight months, which gave me the opportunity to really master my AO and who was who. After we had proven ourselves, we had 100% support from our supported BN Commander. I'm talking in the context of actionable intelligence developed over months, which is a luxury I know many units do not have. I also had two very squared away CAT II American citizen interpreters who spoke native Iraqi Arabic - again, something that might not be normative.

    By the way, sorry for jumping in here. You guys all seem to know what you're talking about and I know some of you have a lot more experience and historical perspective than I do.
    Last edited by Alsultani; 07-24-2009 at 10:09 PM.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Wade in!

    Alsultani,

    By the way, sorry for jumping in here. You guys all seem to know what you're talking about and I know you have a lot more experience than I do.
    We are all still trying to learn and some of our experience is rather dated, 10-20yrs plus. Yours is fresher, even if old "lessons" appear - as indicated - and few here until recently worked so hard in an Arab culture.

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-24-2009 at 09:59 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jedburgh View Post
    Ted: Our paper is obviously a bit dated now. One of the challenges writing about this stuff is that it's a moving target. By the time you get something written, security reviewed and disseminated, the landscape or actors have already changed/evolved or adapted. We have had some preliminary discussion about the need to update some of this stuff, and whether such an effort would even be useful. If you're interested, I'm happy to let you know if it goes anywhere. Thanks - Randy

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    This comment worries me a little. Please define coercion as it you believe it would apply in American police practice.
    While I don't wish to speak for others...
    Example
    Give up your connection/boss...etc. or you're going to jail...for a very very long time, give him up and we'll see what we can do. Happens all the time, all the way from low level street thugs to (say) Sammy "The Bull" Gravano.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rborum View Post
    Ted: Our paper is obviously a bit dated now. One of the challenges writing about this stuff is that it's a moving target. By the time you get something written, security reviewed and disseminated, the landscape or actors have already changed/evolved or adapted. We have had some preliminary discussion about the need to update some of this stuff, and whether such an effort would even be useful. If you're interested, I'm happy to let you know if it goes anywhere. Thanks - Randy
    I for one will definitely be reading this paper. This is a very much neglected part of the curriculum. It's also an area of weakness in army HUMINT recruitment - vis a vis people having any interest in or capability to understand these issues is not any sort of prerequisite. But that's another thread.

    Have you guys read _The Closed Circle: An Interpretation of the Arabs by David Pryce-Jones? His chapters on shame/honor and power challenging are worth the price of the book. Helped me out tremendously over "there."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
    (Taken from another thread and reduced to developing sources point)

    The hardest part is determining whom to kill. The answer is intelligence. Intelligence can be coerced, paid for or freely given. The question is, what is the most accurate? Coercion is rarely accurate and paid for intelligence is frequently misleading. Therefore, the best intelligence is that freely given. And, the best way to get that intelligence is to convince locals you care about the best outcome. The way to do that is to try and wins hearts and minds.

    Michael C. at www.onviolence.com
    Sir,

    Are you specifically addressing LE source operations? I've written a few posts above on what I consider the appropriate application of coercion and paying intelligence sources in counterinsurgency, but locals in the countries in which we are currently "doing" counterinsurgency do not consider the best outcome altruistically. The best outcome is what is the best for them, usually at the expense of someone else. It's also a trick to win the hearts and minds while maintaining their respect and without seeming naive, i.e. weak. I can give numerous examples of coalition forces trying to win the hearts and minds through reconstruction projects and good neighbor policy that got in the way of intelligence collection and our units mission, and that in part financed the local insurgency, that were done by well intentioned but not "tuned in" civil affairs and chaplains. But they got to say at the end that they were able to spend 20 million dollars in an AO, so somebody was happy (Damn those Powerpoint presentations again - they are hindering the war on terror). (Another thread, I know)

    Winning the hearts and minds of your neighbors is a concept that does not appear anywhere in their internal sociology, to my knowledge. Societies in which we are doing counterinsurgency have not traditionally organized themselves in ways that best outcomes are arrived at truly consensually and for the "common" good, outside one's kinship or tribal/clan entity. By now, after years of exposure to us, they know to smile and nod their heads when we talk like this while thinking what idiots we are and how they or their cousin can personally profit from it. I would be interested in any counterexamples you might have.

    Is it any different in the microcosm of square block LE intelligence ops dealing with chronic criminal organizations?

    I'd ask for your continued patience with my posts. Lots of fodder for thought, lots of tough memories of lessons hard learned, and blood of friends shed.
    Last edited by Alsultani; 07-27-2009 at 04:17 AM.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alsultani View Post
    Arabs in general, but especially in Iraq, are experts in looking at angles for self preservation and are quick to detect bull####, while smiling to your face and telling you what they think you want to hear. Authentic self interest is the best motivator.
    Interesting comments overall.

    I think you might find that the above description does not apply only to Iraqi Arabs. I suspect you'd find similar phenomena wherever people have experienced extended periods of anarchy, or rule by violent and capricious dictatorships, or by sequential invaders or warlords, or other conditions of long term instability and violence. Under these circumstances there is little loyalty beyond the immediate: self, family, clan or tribe. Survival becomes the first interest and self-interest the second, and abilities like detecting bull#### and turning a situation to your own advantage become key survival skills.

    Not saying this is a good or bad thing, only that it's something you can expect to find in places where insurgencies flourish.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Interesting comments overall.

    I think you might find that the above description does not apply only to Iraqi Arabs. I suspect you'd find similar phenomena wherever people have experienced extended periods of anarchy, or rule by violent and capricious dictatorships, or by sequential invaders or warlords, or other conditions of long term instability and violence. Under these circumstances there is little loyalty beyond the immediate: self, family, clan or tribe. Survival becomes the first interest and self-interest the second, and abilities like detecting bull#### and turning a situation to your own advantage become key survival skills.

    Not saying this is a good or bad thing, only that it's something you can expect to find in places where insurgencies flourish.
    Exacerbated no doubt by the fact that I was operating in a primarly Shia environment in a country that had been run by Saddam. I would be very interested in any book or paper recommendations from council members on these sorts of sociological considerations. As a current DOD HUMINT training contractor I've requested access to the BCKS MI net system to read the paper listed at the top of this thread. Hopefully there is a lot out there.
    Last edited by Alsultani; 07-30-2009 at 03:19 PM.

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    Default Sorry I missed this earlier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
    The hardest part is determining whom to kill. The answer is intelligence. Intelligence can be coerced, paid for or freely given.
    Well source motivation can and does often alter radically, and what he/she says and does may actually conflict with the facts.
    The question is, what is the most accurate? Coercion is rarely accurate and paid for intelligence is frequently misleading. Therefore, the best intelligence is that freely given.
    Operational experience from Malaya, Aden, Kenya, Colombia, Sri-Lanka, Cyprus, and Northern Ireland would not support those statements. Money and sex are huge motivators. Physical and psychological coercion can and work.
    And, the best way to get that intelligence is to convince locals you care about the best outcome. The way to do that is to try and wins hearts and minds.
    ....and between that ideal and the real world is a whole mess of compromises.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Operational experience from Malaya, Aden, Kenya, Colombia, Sri-Lanka, Cyprus, and Northern Ireland would not support those statements. Money and sex are huge motivators. Physical and psychological coercion can and work.
    Chickens were quite effective--even skinny thrice frozen freezer burned EU donor chickens bought on the black market--especially when combined with a bag of rice...

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Chickens were quite effective--even skinny thrice frozen freezer burned EU donor chickens bought on the black market--especially when combined with a bag of rice...
    Add to that coloured pens sets and novelty key chains, for your more discerning members of the SLA!!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    SSI, 3 Jun 10: Human Intelligence: All Humans, All Minds, All the Time
    .....In this monograph, I focus only on HUMINT as a broad multidisciplinary endeavor, not on known USIC deficiencies or global data pathologies and information asymmetries not yet addressed by the USIC or the U.S. Government (USG) as a whole. HUMINT is defined as 15 distinct subdisciplinary specializations, all of which must be managed as a whole in order to enable cross-fertilization among overt, covert, and clandestine sources and methods.

    I conclude that, in light of the lack of a whole of government decision support architecture, and the clear and present danger associated with the 10 high level threats to humanity, eight of which are nonmilitary, the Department of Defense (DoD) is the only element of the USG able to create a 21st century HUMINT capability—a “Smart Nation.”....

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default The murky world of the supergrass

    The other day the BBC reported on the video evidence given by Saajid Badat in a current US terrorism trial:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17821854

    It is the first time a convicted UK terrorist has entered into an agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to give evidence in a trial against other alleged terrorists....Prosecutors earlier said Badat's "main motivation" in helping had been to prove he had renounced terrorism with actions as well as words....He saw himself and others like him as victims manipulated and exploited by Bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, they said.
    This has now been followed up in this wide ranging article:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/ukne...upergrass.html

    Which ends with:
    ...we should not idealise such figures, nor ignore the injustices that reliance on the honesty of criminals and terrorists sometimes entails. But supergrasses do afford a glimpse into the moral squalor of terrorist organisations, while their existence will surely shake the confidence of al-Qaeda cells and their operations. That is something in itself.
    davidbfpo

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    If there's a reference list for this paper, I'd appreciate a look at it.
    PH Cannady
    Correlate Systems

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    Default Infiltrating AQ: a double edged sword?

    Infiltration of an enemy is a well known tactic, it does have unintended consequences sometimes. The story of the Dane Morten Storm has been around awhile and in May 2013 Mark Stout, now JHU and then @ The International Spy Museum, conducted a recommended Q&A:http://www.spymuseum.org/multimedia/...ists-in-yemen/

    Clints Watts provided a summary a week ago:http://selectedwisdom.com/?p=1185

    No mention was made of a possible unintended result, which today was given a lurid headline in the Daily Mail, citing a CNN interview:
    Was Kenya mall massacre 'mastermind' backed by CIA cash? Disturbing claims by 'double agent who worked with terror suspect for years'
    Link:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz2nME8w2l5
    davidbfpo

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    Default MI5 community informer speaks

    With official approval a Muslim community informer for the British Security Service (MI5) was interviewed by BBC Radio Four Today programme. You can listen to the short six minute podcast:https://audioboo.fm/boos/1819839-the...unity-informer

    The initial approach to him was made by the police, so the person may not be an MI5 informant, but one run in concert by the police and MI5. He repeatedly refers to the role as providing clarification on a person, whether they are linked to extremism.
    davidbfpo

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    This was a good and short interview, but I don' t think most would find this surprising in the least. Police should be doing source work like this, it is expected, and the only sources that will have valuable information will have to be part of the community for the threats emanates from.

    I think much of the same happens in the U.S. for the same reason, most Muslims don't want extremists putting them at risk directly and indirectly (anti-Muslim backlash after attacks), and they disagree in principle with the extremist methods and desired ends.

    What would be refreshing to see is an overt movement of Muslims actively opposing the extremists, shaming them, making it undesirable for their children to be attracted to their narrative. Until that happens the significant threat of Islamic extremist based terror will persistent.

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