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Thorough and Accurate Intelligence Can Pervert Terrorist Threat The Perennial Significance of Human Intelligence
By Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd) Expert in International Relations and Security Studies
Nov 4, 2013, 12:00
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Ever since the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the USA, many security analysts have differed on or rather disagreed about the efficiency and efficacy of various counter-terrorism measures in curbing terrorism. Nevertheless, one thing they appear to have a common concession on if not absolute congruence is the ultimate importance of intelligence activity in preventing surprise attacks. Security experts can therefore authoritatively posit that, good intelligence it can be assured is always more than half the solution. Its also maintained that the better the intelligence, the more it would be likely to reduce or limit the military means employed to fight terrorism.


Therefore, early intelligence warnings about planned attacks are vital for the effective use of resources and for positioning security forces at the time and place they are most needed. There are various kinds of intelligence tools utilised in collecting information and the following are the universally recognised and regularly implemented; Visual Intelligence (VISINT), Electronic or Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Communication Intelligence (COMINT), Open Source intelligence (OSINT).


These different but neatly interconnected kinds of intelligence gathering mutually help in building the overall intelligence picture; meaning the general understanding of the enemys intention and capabilities. However, the most important factor in counter-terrorism intelligence is Human Intelligence (HUMINT). In terms of counter-terrorism, Human Intelligence includes though not limited to intelligence obtained from agents planted within the terrorist organisation, deserters, and captives. Many counter-terrorism analysts stress the importance of Human Intelligence sources in collecting intelligence on terrorist planning to carry out attacks on innocent civilians.

Captain Saio S. Marrah (Rtd)

The Origin of Human Intelligence

Human Intelligence it can be maintained is as old as mankind. That can easily be testified in the Biblical story of the conquest of Israel after the Exodus from Egypt, where Moses was the first person to employ spies before launching an attack. Moses chose twelve leaders and sent them to spy out the land, instructing them to


see the land and what it is, and the people who dwell therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many and what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents or in strongholds. And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there be wood therein or not (Numbers 13:18-20). In numbers 13:23- we are told that they returned with the fruit of the land, one cluster of grapes and they bore it between them, two upon a staff.


Joshua who had the practical mission of conquering Jericho sent two men to spy secretly emphasising - Go view the land, even Jericho(Joshua 2:1). The two spies went to Jericho and Rahab sheltered them the latter (Rahab) becoming the first collaborator in history. In both instance as afore-stipulated, we can see human Intelligence in action, just as it is carried out today determining intelligence priorities, location, recruitment, dispatch investigation and report.


Human Intelligence in Todays World

According to experiential foreign intelligence sources, the US and EU intelligence communities have recently realised the significance of Human Intelligence, especially in the Global War of Terrorism. They arrived at such cognitive and logical conclusions based on the empirical studies done on the intelligence strategies conducted in the search, arrest, and assassination of Sadam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

after the collapse of Baghdad in April 2003, Sadam Hussein escaped and concealed in a cave. The US utilised the most sophisticated technological intelligence tools to detect and arrest Sadam to no avail. However, with the help of Human Intelligence injected with bounty, Sadam was finally arrested, detained and later executed in December 2003. Reliable and refined Human Intelligence report led to his arrest.


OSAMA BIN LADEN; since the September 11 attacks on the USA, Osama became the most wanted man on the CIA list. Enormous technological efforts were invested in searching for him without any success.Without an iota of doubt, Human Intelligence assisted in successfully locating him, subsequently leading to his assassination.


In both instances, Human Intelligence surely supersedes the other types of intelligence collection methods. The good thing about Human Intelligence is that it appears to be cheaper and its hands-on approach is telling. There are few downsides like any or every concept or phenomenon but with good statecraft and through selection of agents, the uncertainties will be drastically reduced.


To my fellow patriotic Sierra Leoneans, we mustnt allow ourselves to be caught in the net of terrorist organisations. Islam like any other religion in the world doesnt sanction violence, terror, murder, suicide and the like. Extremism and fundamentalism are excessive and unwarranted - and therefore un-Islamic and simply satanic. I therefore encourage everyone to be on the alert and report without the slightest delay anyone who attempt to teach, preach, discuss, introduce or incite you on extreme Islamic issues aimed at radicalising or brainwashing you. Such people whether Sierra Leoneans, Somalis, British, Americans, Arabs, Chinese or anybody whatsoever MUST be reported to the appropriate authorities.

Most importantly, dont collaborate with them; for that will be very unpatriotic and the consequences for such crime will be very severe. Lets all be part of our Human Intelligence network and report the slightest suspicion of terrorist threat or information to the authorities. When your information reaches the authorities, then the security and intelligence experts will diligently work on them until the substance is revealed. Dont allow any fool to fool you. Terrorism isnt part of our culture or tradition not to mention our peaceful religion Islam. Islam and terrorism are unparallel and the moderate nature of Sierra Leonean Muslims suggests that not even a deaf ear could be given to terrorists in Sierra Leone.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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