The Anatomy of a Terrorist Cell

The Anatomy of a Terrorist Cell
March 18th, 2017  

Topic: The Anatomy of a Terrorist Cell

The Anatomy of a Terrorist Cell
How Proxy Insurgents of the Past Have Transformed into Modern Terrorist Organizations

The Anatomy of a Terrorist Cell

Many have argued that, to fight in war, the most basic and important asset is that of a secret service or organization specifically dedicated to intelligence gathering operations. It may be a government agency or the military, but this is also relevant to non-state actors or terrorist groups. Thus, it is vital to analyze the anatomy and structure of terrorist cells to better understand the modus operandi of terrorist organizations. Simply put, a terrorist cell is the systematic network of the organization’s members. Even though the Terms of Engagements and/or the Rules of Engagements differ from a conventional force, a terrorist network’s secret mission and/or operation remain well-organized and professional. It was once understood that terrorist networks were not well structured; however, after incurring heavy losses, such as losing valuable agents and informants to arrest and identification by nation states’ security and intelligence agencies, terrorist organizations came to realize that they must establish a professional intelligence unit.

Because terrorist organizations don’t have the same resources that government intelligence agencies have, they mostly rely solely on Human Intelligence as opposed to more sophisticated Signal Intelligence, Electronic Intelligence, Imagery Intelligence, Technical Intelligence, etc. However, because terrorist organizations were once state-sponsored, they emulate and resemble professional military and intelligence agencies, thereby demonstrating how terrorist organizations adopt and apply the tradecraft training and intelligence they received from nation states. To illustrate, the Principal Agent Handler (PAH) and his team consist of an Agent Handler, a Deputy Agent Handler and more than a dozen Principal Agents. See the following diagram for a visual representation of the structure of the agent handling model. The PAH directs the Agent Handler, Deputy Agent Handler, and Principal Agents within the organization’s controlled areas. They work from inside offices and are known as “Desk Agents”. There is a second set of agents directed by PAH who work in the field (hostile area) controlled by the enemy. They are known as “Field Agents”. There is always a middle man who works as a “contact” or “go between” for Desk Agents and Field Agents. He is known as the Intermediary or Cut-Out.

Intelligence-gathering is, by its very nature, a difficult task, but of utmost importance. Terrorist organizations are extremely cautious when recruiting their agents and informants. Most of the time they tend to cultivate personnel from the same religious or ethno-nationalist groups who show potential for accessing enemy targets. For every member hired, each must undergo an extensive background check. The organization focuses on the individual’s profile, including his/her character, vulnerabilities, and motivation to assess if he/she is the right person for the job.

Recruits must go through a special training period to acquire the skills necessary to perform assigned tasks. These include specific techniques in the trade of espionage, which is called “tradecraft” and could include such specialties as agent-handling, covert communication, counter-interrogation, reconnaissance, coding and decoding, drawing maps, photography, martial arts, linguistic skills, and so on. Once a recruit completes the tradecraft and skill training period, the handlers assess each recruit, keeping the individual’s potential and background in mind, to confirm whether he/she is fit to become an agent or informant. This recruitment process greatly resembles that of professional military and intelligence agencies, thereby illustrating how terrorist organizations adopt and apply the training and intelligence they have received from nation states.

Before spies and informants are assigned to a mission, they are instructed on every single detail of the target. The target could be soft or hard, such as a VIP member or a football stadium –whatever it may be, the handlers brief every detail and then debrief for further intelligence. Informants must learn about the specific physical environment beforehand so that they can easily provide updates on selected targets. To make this task easier, many organization prefer to hire refugees, students and government employees working in the area, selecting them carefully after identifying and confirming their potential usefulness, because they have already spent years within that environment and have become a part of that environment. Their social and human capital is recognized as a valuable human resource.

All these agents work together to analyze, assess, and exploit the intelligence they have gathered. The final intelligence product is sent to the decision makers, that is, the top leader such as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who decide whether or not to take advantage of the information for tactical, operational, or strategic purposes. Whether the decision makers take action or not, the Principal Agent Handler and his staff make weekly assessments to update the Data Bank.

Once all intelligence has been gathered, it must be centralized in the Data Bank: a large repository of data on a particular topic that is only accessible by a limited number of users. The Principal Agent Handler oversees the Data Bank. He is provided with thousands of situational briefing reports every day from various sources, including intelligence wing operatives (spies) who operate all over the world; foreign fighters, students, and government employees (informants) across the world; special reconnaissance teams; local-patrolling and open-source intelligence-gathering.

Successful intelligence gathering depends on secure and covert communication. Without security, there is no intelligence; therefore, it is of utmost importance that an organization protect its human assets. This can only be done if there is a systematic way for intelligence to flow from hostile areas to the organization’s Data Bank. It is the Principal Agent Handler’s responsibility to make sure that his sources are safe and secure. This structure of ranking and communication protocol is also adopted from state military agencies.

Within hostile areas, there are well-established agents working for the PAH known as Resident Agents (RA) who organize and direct compartmentalized “cells” that are operating in the field. Each RA deals with a maximum of 4-5 Agents (e.g. A, B, C, D, E) who are cultivated or hired and trained by those Desk Agents. See the diagram below for a visual representation of the cells. Since agents work under a considerable amount of risk, they are proactively given a cover story to ensure their security. For instance, the perfect cover story for an RA would be a well-known journalist who lives in the area, sending and receiving information from all parts of the country. A marine engineer working in a harbor would be the perfect cover story for an informant.

When an RA contacts one of his agents and/or informants to exchange information, he must be extremely careful so not to expose or compromise them to anyone. The RA would therefore meet with them in different Safe Houses, and afterwards, the Intermediary would meet with the RA in a separate Safe House to pass the information on further to the Desk Agents.

In special cases, an Agent might contact the PAH directly without going through the RA and/or the Intermediary. In such instances, the Agent would use covert communications and code sheets to pass along the information. These kinds of cells are not only used for transferring information but are also used to transfer other resources such as weapons and personnel. For example, when al Qaeda planned an attack on World Trade Center in New York City, they commenced with the acquisition of field blueprints. To acquire these blueprints, al Qaeda members would identify themselves as employees at the facility. This Agent/Informant is then instructed to contact the RA or a separate cell on a regular basis to provide contemporary intelligence. An Intermediary would contact the RA to obtain the information in order to pass it along to the Principal Agent, or mail the information in segments directly to him.

Terrorist organizations also hire other agents who work, for example, as a cleaner to provide technical information such as storage, electric boards, the number of employees in the building, opening and closing hours and so on. He/she would give the information to the RA or mail it directly to the Principal Agent or even the Principal Agent Handler. Throughout this intelligence gathering, the Data Bank provides information to the Intelligence Wing for the building of a model of the target while another cell becomes engaged in training personnel on how to execute the mission, using the same process of agent handling.
December 5th, 2017  
The cell that is a sleep to multiply organization is influence by the social background the cell is currently residing in. The Environment of the mutates in the pre-programmed identity the cell is precived to be associated with. The hate that is deep in the core of the psyche is motativated by the propaganda that straves for a simialer outcome of the brainwashing the cell has under gone. The cell stays asleep doing co-vert operations for the origin of his background yet is disgused as a mere citizen in the enivormental inhabitants of his surroundings. When the cell is awaken at first it comes as like a near death experince because under going the "COLD_WHITE" the cell is torture and psychotheray rehablitates his motivation from previous tatics to imprint memories. The flash back re-programs the anatomy of the cell to previous training it under goes and slow awakening is one that has been mistaken as one agency with another on asumed probability and the cell is in a world of hystraiera. Later undergoing a idenity crisis and undergoes a series of self awarness of capilbilites he was once not aware after his COLD_WHITE experince. The encoding of specific awakenings can come as simple as a phone call with encrpted modem sounds with a sequence of number and phonetic signalling.

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