January 11, 2010
I wonder what kind of tricks the CIA is using against Al Qaeda these days.
If I were in the CIA, I would try to flood the terrorist communication channels with false orders. Some of the false orders would be simple stuff, such as “Everyone gather by the big rock and wait for a big delivery of explosives.”
Other times you might say, “Salame is a mole for the CIA. He must die.” I figure the terrorists are like any other bureaucracy, and the workers will focus first on whatever is sitting in front of them while ignoring long term planning. And it’s probably fair to assume that, like your workplace, no one really trusts anyone else. I think you could keep terrorists busy killing each other until they run out of recruits.
Terror networks are perfect targets for false communications. First, the real orders sound exactly like pranks. It would be hard to sort out the evil mastermind plots from the CIA practical jokes. For example, if you get the order to shove C4 up your ass and yell WALAWALAWALA while running toward a heavily armed American Checkpoint, is that a real one or a prank? It’s hard to tell.
Second, the lines of communication within terror networks are presumably ever-changing, and necessarily involve strangers who wouldn’t recognize the voice or face of the other. It wouldn’t take many stories of CIA compromises to the system before no terrorist trusts anything he hears. Any real orders would be ignored.
I assume the terrorists are avoiding electronic communications because those would be the first channels the CIA compromised. This puts the terrorists in the position of trying to run a virtual meeting with operatives across the globe by sending human messengers. Assuming these terrorists are no more capable than your own coworkers, you know exactly how that’s working out for
Abdullah: Your orders are to blow up the Belgian Embassy in Waziristan.
Salame: What is a Belgian?
Abdullah: I think it’s some sort of American. Or a waffle.
Salame: I don’t think there are any embassies in Waziristan.
Abdullah: Maybe it was someplace else. It started with a W. Or an M.
Saleme: Perhaps you could get clarification and come back.
Abdullah: Fine. I’ll see you in four months. Oh, and Bin Laden wants your status report in front of his cave by 8 AM.