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The Journal of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers

a national journal

Volume 18, Number 1 | 2010 | ISSN 1039-1525

The AIPIO Journal

Managing Editor Editorial Board
Mr Jeff Corkill | Edith Cowan University Ms Victoria Herrington | Charles Sturt University Professor William Hutchinson | Edith Cowan University Associate Professor Stephen Marrin | Mercyhurst College, USA Associate Professor Felix Patrikeff | Adelaide University Mr Brett Peppler | Intelligent Futures P/L Dr Hank Prunckun | Slezak Associates Mr Paul Roger | Booz & Allen Mr Wayne Snell | AFP Police College Associate Professor James A Veitch | Victoria University of Wellington Dr Grant Wardlaw | Australian National University Dr Ian Wing Ms Lisa Young Helen Glazebrook | Australian Crime Commission, Australia Editorial correspondence and all manuscripts should be emailed to the managing editors. Email: Manuscripts should be emailed as Word or RTF attachments.

Patrick F Walsh | Charles Sturt University, Australia

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The AIPIO Journal is a peer reviewed publication available in March, July and December each year. A subscription form is attached after the Book Reviews section.

Statements of fact or opinion appearing in the AIPIO Journal are solely those of the authors and do not imply endorsement by the editors, publisher or the Institute. The AIPIO Journal is published three times a year in March, July and December. 2010 AIPIO PO Box 1007, Civic Square ACT 2608 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of AIPIO.

ISSN 1039-1525

The Journal of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers

a national journal

Volume 18, Number 1


Virtual Worlds and Video Games: Frontiers for Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and the Military
Patrick Abordo . . . . .

Caught Unawares, Not Looking, or Both? Australian Intelligence Failures in the 2006 Fiji Coup dEtat
Vimal Chand Alan Watson . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

. . .

21 37 47

The Intelligence Conundrum: Why do we continue to fail?

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Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

Virtual Worlds and Video Games: Frontiers for Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and the Military
Patrick Abordo


The paper discusses the actual and potential use of virtual worlds and video games by terrorists, defence and national security groups. Virtual worlds may be used by terrorists as a means of communication, while military and national security groups use it for training personnel. Video games may potentially be exploited by terrorists for training and recruitment, especially against youths already susceptible to a terrorist ideology. The military has used video games for training for some time with some speculating that it has a dehumanizing effect. Considering the ways in which terrorists have emulated the militarys use of games and technology, it may be predicted that they will also create their own crude unmanned weapons platforms that takes advantage of the dexterity, skills and benefits they get from video games. This suggests the need for greater focus on how virtual communities and games may be exploited by terrorists. In 2007, a 12 year-old boy from Norway and his little sister were confronted with a wild moose poised to attack. Using skills learned from the immensely successful video game World of Warcraft (WoW), he taunted the animal so that his sister could get away, which in WoW is used to distract opponents from targeting vulnerable players. He then feigned death which in the game is used to avoid encounters with enemies. In this case it worked and the moose left him alone.1 Advances in the technology behind virtual online worlds and video games however may be applied beyond evading wild animals, with the potential for terrorists using it for their own ends. This is congruent with Abu Musab al-Suris push for terrorists to train at home and in their villages (in conjunction with the Internet and training manuals) rather than travelling to training camps overseas, thereby reducing the chances of detection by authorities.2 The converse of this was shown with the individuals affiliated with the plots in the Pendennis raids in Australia who were caught by police playing a game of paintball while wearing military fatigues.3 This led to the discovery of plans for building explosives in their laptops, culminating in their surveillance in Operation Pendennis.4 Virtual worlds over the Internet such as Second Life and WoW should therefore be perceived with great concern, especially with their potential use by terrorists for
Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

simulating attacks and as a vehicle for education, propaganda and communication. The sheer expanse and vast populations of those using such virtual worlds makes their surveillance nothing short of impossible. Defence and national security agencies have as noted earlier also taken advantage of virtual worlds, such as with Air Force Warrior, which is used as a recruitment and training tool for the US military. There are also prospective studies on the use of online games (such as WoW) as a simulator for potential national security threats, with special emphasis on the way in which real people react. In terms of the link between video games and terrorism, one of the concerns is that it would further reinforce the us versus them dichotomy that can predispose certain groups to terrorism. This is especially the case with the emergence of Middle-Eastern video games, which rectifies the stereotype of Arabs as the prototypical villain (making them popular), but also functioning as an effective tool for propaganda. Video games have also been utilized for the training of military and counter-terrorist groups, teaching a number of important skills that are not only tactical, but also ideological. For terrorists, video games may also teach these same skills, going beyond what can be taught in traditional terrorist training manuals. It may also serve to shape an aggressive way of thinking as well as desensitizing violence. This may prey on the mindset of a subgroup of Arab youths that are already susceptible to a terrorist ideology. There are also fears that terrorist-produced games, especially by Hezbollah, may start to take the form of interactive tutorials in order to increase the games popularity (with gamers and terrorist groups alike) and thus Hezbollahs ideological scope throughout the Middle East. Another possible implication of video games with terrorism is that it teaches skills that may make terrorists adept in a new form of terrorism. This would emulate the militarys use of unmanned remote-controlled vehicles, which may serve as delivery mechanisms for terrorist attacks. Currently there is some apprehension that terrorists have already taken up residence in expansive virtual worlds. In the popular online community Second Life, it is alleged that three Islamist terrorists and two terrorist organisations have registered, while terrorist strikes have levelled virtual buildings and killed peoples avatars.5 This is a cause of concern for counter-terrorism officials, with prospects that terrorist attacks in Second Life may function as a dress-rehearsal for the real thing by Australian home-grown terrorists.6
Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

Virtual Worlds: Presence of Terrorists

Roderick Jones argues that the viability of Second Life being used by terrorists should not be overstated, however, he sees some potential of its use for terrorist purposes.7 This includes the effectiveness of online communities like Second Life for e-learning, especially as videos are able to be embedded in virtual classrooms.8 Researchers searching for common extremist terms (in English) in Second Life, also led to the discovery of alleged terrorist groups with hundreds of members, some of whom had extremist views and explicitly cited real-life terrorist organisations.9 Though researchers concede that they may not necessarily be terrorists themselves, they may nevertheless be sympathizers or disseminators of terrorist propaganda.10

Another concern with virtual worlds is the potential of it being used as a means of communication between terrorists. This however has been disputed by a senior official from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), who argues that terrorists are not likely to use online worlds as a mode of communication due to the lax security from unwelcome eyes.11 Moreover, alternative Internet communication tools like forum boards have been found to be very secure, with board membership contingent on personal references and other methods of screening.12 On the other hand, contrary to the idea of terrorists being dissuaded from using virtual communities because of a lack of security, arguably its sheer expanse and population make it more a feasible mode of communication, with anonymity being its best asset.13 Furthermore, it has been observed that many online communities do not monitor or record the discussions between players or the general chatter within their worlds. Some online communities even have password-protected areas and private channels, much like the discussion boards typically used by terrorist groups. 14 A further benefit of terrorists using virtual worlds, especially with massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) like WoW is that in the event of suspicious behaviour being brought to the attention of authorities, it would be difficult to prove that it was not merely role-playing. Another complication is the varying laws between countries, especially since there is no internationally accepted definition of terrorism, let alone terrorism in cyber worlds. Hence, there would be foreseeable judicial and jurisdictional issues, where virtual communities are populated with suspected terrorists from other countries. This issue will only be further exacerbated as more and more virtual communities develop in other countries, such as Chinas upcoming online world HiPiHi, which is designed to host some 75 million users on at the same time.15
Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

Virtual Worlds: Means of Communication for Terrorists

Virtual worlds may also facilitate connections being made between terrorists and hackers, with the potential for the latter to be contracted for cyber terrorism purposes. Hackers have already been used by terrorist groups like the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) to find the addresses of British intelligence and police personnel.16 With the scale of the Internet and popularity of virtual communities now however, finding information on individuals has become much easier, which is exemplified in 2006 where a video of an anonymous Chinese woman killing a kitten led to wanted posters being circulated online and eventually her personal details being discovered and published.17

Project Reynard

Whatever the case may be regarding the potentiality of terrorists using virtual worlds, the US government has not ignored it, with the ODNI instituting Project Reynard. In this data mining study, the social (and more importantly terrorist) dynamics in virtual communities and MMORPGs are investigated. This is then utilized to identify the varying behavioural and social norms of these environments to determine suspicious behaviour or conduct online.18 If successful, this will then be used as the foundation for a possible automated system of tracking terrorism in virtual environments.19 However, it has been argued that data-mining of virtual worlds for terrorist behaviour would not likely be feasible, with Roderick Jones emphasizing a need for human intelligence-gathering to differentiate legitimate terrorists from those merely roleplaying.20 The fact is however, due to the growing multiplicity, popularity and sheer expanse of online worlds running 24 hours a day, human observation cannot be expected to pick up on all possible suspect behaviour. Moreover, with the companies behind these cyber communities lacking any surveillance mechanisms of their own, the risk of online worlds being an avenue for terrorist activity becomes increasingly likely.

While the efficacy of the measures to impede terrorists from using online worlds appears to be bleak, this has not prevented defence and national security organisations from also taking advantage of these worlds to supplement their training. Even before the advent of virtual worlds over the Internet, counter-terrorism agencies had created 3D representations of potential terrorist attacks to conduct exercises in. This had occurred with the security forces for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, who used videos of possible terrorist targets for computer simulations that counter-terrorists can walk through.21 However, the efficacy of using expansive online worlds is that it allows for not only environments to be recreated, but also real people (and real reactions) in the form of avatars, thus better replicating the limitless permutations of real-life situations.
Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

Virtual Worlds: A Defence and National Security Training Tool

These benefits coupled with advancements in broadband technology have led to the US Air Force creating the virtual world Air Force Warrior, which is used for both training and recruitment. In this, players undertake realistic missions for the US Air Force, with real-life recruiters being able to assess player skills (in the game) as potential Air Force recruits.22 In their virtual headquarters called MyBase, Air Force personnel differentiated by the rank in their avatars mingle with potential recruits.23 There is even a building in the virtual environment where players can enlist for the real thing, complete with the avatar of a recruiter with access to the potential recruits resume and academic records. A digital signature and a sworn oath to defend the Constitution via webcam (with witnesses) is enough for one to start life in the US Air Force.24 Moreover, for those already enlisted, Air Force Warrior allows for the various arms of the US military and academic institutions to take part in online seminars and lectures.25 Enlisted personnel can also undertake online exercises with military personnel around the country (including simulated terrorist attacks), which is then recorded and graded by instructors.26 A further facet into the utilization of online worlds for counter-terrorism and national security purposes is the study on whether large, online worlds could be used to determine the effect of infectious diseases and the potential countermeasures for it. This has been suggested with WoW after a computer bug caused the rapid spread of a highly infectious in-game disease that killed many of the less powerful characters and left virtual towns desolate.27 However, what makes this phenomenon especially noteworthy (and thus worthy of further investigation) is the number of variables it had compared to large-scale simulations, such as the multiplicity of the rational and irrational reactions of the thousands of players infected. Such examples include players avoiding quarantine measures to prevent infection (including those already infected), while others (with healing abilities) rushing to heal the infected, which kept many alive but inadvertently caused the disease to further propagate.28 While it may be argued that the reactions of online players may not accurately reflect what would be expected in a real-life national security threat, it is posited that in games like WoW, individuals put significant emotional investment in their characters such that actions made can have considerable emotional consequences to the players.29 As such, due to the sheer unpredictability of peoples reactions to novel situations, virtual worlds (like WoW) may better mirror how the public would respond in times of peril, in contrast to sophisticated (and expensive) simulators that lack the human element.

Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

Video Games: The Us versus Them Issue

In terms of the implications of video games and terrorism, arguably it can be seen to add to the stereotyping and prejudice prevalent in popular media. Video games are a further reinforcement of the us versus them dichotomy that lumps together all Muslims and Arabs as terrorists,30 which has a number of wide-ranging implications. This stereotyping effect through video games however goes beyond just shaping the views of western youths, as it has been found that many of these western games are popular amongst young Arabs, even though they are perceived by them as racist.31 This perhaps may link to the idea of western games trying to capitalize on the shock and awe connotation of the second Gulf War, which Sony attempted to buy the rights to for their games.32 However, it can be argued that the shock and awe display of the weapons technology portrayed in many realistic video games (which dont show the consequences or context of its use)33 may have an intended demoralizing effect on Arabs of the potential power of the US military that is yet to be seen in real life. In essence, it creates shock for Muslims and Middle Easterners and awe for its western gamers. This reinforces the collective identity that forms among some Arabs and Muslims in western countries, where their identity shifts towards religion rather than the societal values of a host country that treats them negatively.34 This leads to an us versus them worldview that may make them susceptible to a terrorist ideology, especially considering the perceived hostility by their host countries against their religion, and therefore their identity. This interacts with the rising popularity of video games, reinforcing the us versus them categorization directed at a young generation of gamers worldwide. In terms of recruitment, the use of video games to attract people to particular political views is nothing new. In fact, hate groups in the past have used computer games for disseminating their ideology to a younger generation, such as the white supremacist game Zionist Occupied Governments (ZOG) Nightmare, a first-person shooter with the player targeting minority groups.35 It is even suspected by Madeleine Gruen that this sort of game may inspire lone wolf terrorists that accept the propaganda the game glorifies, where the player acts out (in real-life) the white supremacist motif of revolting against the government.36 This link between video games and terrorism however becomes particularly salient when it was discovered that the 7/7 London bombers frequented the Iqra Learning

Video Games: Terrorist Recruitment

Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

Centre bookstore in Leeds. This establishment not only sold Islamist fundamentalist literature, but is also the only place that sells video games by Islamgames, such as Ummah Defense I. In this game, Islam has become so dominant in the world that the player is tasked with hunting down disbelievers that have revolted.37 The us versus them issue thus sets the stage for the emergence of Middle-Eastern video games corresponding to the growing popularity of many pro-Western games, such as Americas Army. This includes Hezbollahs game Special Force, as well as other similar games like Under Ash and its sequel Under Siege, which has become incredibly popular with young Arabs.38 The issue however is that it goes beyond the emotional investment put into games like WoW,39 with one of Under Ashs designers stating that it allowed its players to experience what its like to live in Palestine.40 In the game, the player takes control of the young Palestinian protagonist Ahmad, undertaking very difficult and historically-accurate missions against Israeli forces (called Zionists).41 Further tapping into the emotional investment put into the game is the fact that much of Under Siege and Special Force are based on the real life experiences of Palestinians that were documented by United Nations records.42 As such, these games initially lure young Arabs with the prospect of satisfying their pleasure of playing video games with an Arab as a hero rather than a villain. It may also counter the demoralizing effect of the sophisticated weapons used realistically against Arabs in western games (i.e. shock and awe) with Special Forces glorification of resistance over superior firepower and technology.43 However, many of the Arab games go beyond redressing the stereotype of Muslims and Middle Easterners as terrorists and insurgents, such as with Special Force having martyr posters throughout the game,44 as well as the presentation of real-life martyrs at the end of the game.45 Game realism is also another factor related to the potential success of video games and terrorist recruitment. This may be seen with the Arab game Under Ash, which is notoriously difficult, lacking the standard health packs or medical kits common in most games that would miraculously heal a wounded character from the verge of death. Also, just like in real-life, there is no final victory for the Palestinians in the game, even when the objectives are completed.46 As such, games like Special Force and Under Ash can become extensions of real-life for Palestinians, as these types of games fulfil three phases of realism. The historicallyaccurate missions and story are realistic in terms of narrative, as are the rendering of the graphics47 and the realistic difficulty of the game. This leads to greater emotional immersion that runs counter to how western civilians play games, as just a year of playing Americas Army had led to greater mission success but also a poorer survival rate.48 This suggests that they arent taking the game as seriously or are emotionally
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immersed. For potential terrorists, this immersion may blur the distinction between the games propaganda and reality, making it a much more captivating ideological tool.

While the notion of virtual online worlds being used for terrorism and counter-terrorism purposes has been a relatively new (and much disputed) phenomenon, much the same cant be said for video games. Former US President Ronald Reagan had even claimed that computer games would be a training tool for cyber warriors fighting in a new battlefield.49 As such, since the 1980s, commercially available video games have been modified for use as training tools for the military, such as Ataris Battlezone, one of the first 3D games that became a tank simulator for the US Army.50 Moreover, the very popular first-person shooter, Doom was re-tooled for the US Marine Corps (dubbed Marine Doom) in order to teach soldiers to kill more effectively, work as a team, while also improving decision-making at the tactical level. This includes skills such as suppressive fire and proper attack sequences. In fact, images were even scanned into the game for specific training exercises prior to real-life missions being undertaken. This practice however has become more widespread after the US Department of Defence spent some $120 million on assessing the efficacy of video games and creating new ones. With the technology of simulators and digital games being seen as essentially the same, but with the latter being more accessible and cheaper, video games found favour over conventional military simulators worth millions. As such, the latest first-person shooters such as Counter-Strike have been used by Chinas Tianjin police force for counter-terrorism training. In this case, instructors cite the games authentic combat scenarios and realistic use of weapons and tactics in different terrains as a way to supplement officer training. This is taken especially seriously with referees being used to ensure that the officers dont peek at each others screens. 51 Likewise, the British Army in Project Dismounted Infantry Virtual Environment (DIVE) had the first-person shooter Halflife modified by changing the weapon to the standard SA80 rifle, modelling the game arena after one of their bases (and later other training areas) and changing the games artificial intelligence to be more realistic (e.g. being able to shoot through walls).52 Some have argued that the game far better replicates suppressive fire than live exercises.53 Furthermore, just like the Chinese police (and unlike typical western gamers), this was not considered as just merely a game, with soldiers being psychologically immersed as they took the training seriously and tried their best to not be killed.54 This may have a dehumanizing and desensitizing effect to violence, with complaints that young US soldiers serving in the
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Video Games: Defence and National Security Training Tool


Middle East treated their missions (including killing insurgents) as though it were a game.55 This may have the same effect with young Arab and Muslim gamers playing terrorist-produced games. With the increasing demand from defence officials for video game technology to be used as a training tool, the US military began collaborating with academics and video game and entertainment companies to improve the artificial intelligence and modelling of their games for military purposes.56 Going beyond just merely modifying commercially available games, this had culminated in the creation of the incredibly popular video game, Americas Army. However, the implications of video games for the military go beyond the use of weapons and tactics, with the US Training and Doctrine Culture Centre developing cultural awareness programs in the form of video games that are specially targeted at the younger members of the US Army.57 This is an especially important initiative as it counters the stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims as terrorists and insurgents that may facilitate the dehumanization process young soldiers experience in conventional video games. This is one step in the battle for hearts and minds, where coalition soldiers dont just see Arabs as insurgents, enabling greater partnerships that would have tangible benefits for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. While video games, especially first-person shooters can be seen to have a significant effect for military and counter-terrorism purposes, the question is whether the same can be expected for non-military personnel, such as terrorists and potential terrorists. This concern can be traced as far back as the Columbine massacre in 1999, and whether the shooters fixation with the video game Doom had any bearing on the shootings that claimed the lives of 12 students and a teacher. 58 Its been reported that the shooters had a modified version of Doom such that there were two shooters with unlimited ammunition and extra weapons.59 Moreover, it is even alleged that one of the shooters shotguns is named Arlene, after a character in the game.60 Tactically, practice with the game may have improved decision-making at the ground level, while also acting as a simulator for the assault. This may be illustrated with Columbine shooter, Eric Harris stating: Its going to be like fucking Doom, with the assault having the appearance of a military operation. 61 This was seen with one of the shooters telling his partner Im guarding the stairs!, while the other took a high vantage point in order to glimpse the incoming SWAT team, which led the SWAT leader to believe that it was a trap.62

Video Games: Terrorist Training Tool

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With advancements in video game technology, the increasing realism of first-person shooters arguably teaches even more skills to gamers without formal military training. In fact, a study has shown that gamers playing Americas Army for just a year had an increase in communication skills and centrality, such that group members were more responsive to each others communications. It has also been shown that they tried to connect with each other as a team and displayed greater leadership.63 Moreover, the latest games go beyond just a description of the types of weapons used by US and British forces, as written in the jihadi Encyclopedia of Preparation 4th Edition.64 Now, realistic simulations of how these weapons work are shown with great detail, such as in the first-person shooter, Counter-Strike. This game replicates the range, rate of fire, accuracy, sounds, recoil, how ammunition is loaded, as well as detailed specifications (e.g. type of ammunition used and weight) of an array of modern weapons. With Americas Army, even breathing, let alone rate of fire of the weapon can be detrimental to weapon accuracy, on top of its function as a skillbuilding tool for land navigation. 65 It even allows for the option of using the actual aiming apparatus (sights) on the weapon itself (as in real life) instead of aiming with cross-hairs in the middle of the screen (manipulated with the mouse or controller), thus making it even more realistic. What is also of concern is that like military and counter-terrorism applications of video games, many modern games also allow gamers to create their own 3D environments in the game, thus allowing for the simulation of possible terrorist attacks. Even gaming companies like Electronic Arts have stated that they have no power over who modifies their games.66 This further suggests that playing computer games allows for the player to become more familiar and skilled with computers and virtual environments, while also improving reaction times.67 However, what may be of greater concern is the effect violent games have on aggression, especially for potential terrorists. This links to research by Anderson and Dill, whereby exposure to violent video games for those with high aggressive personality scores, where found to have significantly increased aggressive behaviour at the cognitive level.68 This means that it effects the way a person thinks and therefore acts rather than how they feel (affect), which is more transient. Hence, violent games can be seen to inspire aggressive ideas, with greater violence, longer game exposure and game satisfaction having a reinforcing (or learning) effect and thus a greater tendency to react to situations with aggression. This research is also linked to previous studies where it is hypothesized that the more an aggressive construct (way of thinking) is accessed (e.g. constantly playing violent video games), the easier it is to activate it in real-life situations.69 This is
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also exacerbated with repeated viewing of such violence in real-life (e.g. exposure to real-life violence in the Middle East), discussing it with other people or mentally going through it in their heads, which is a common method of coping with traumatic situations. 70 Another concept interrelated with video games and aggressive behaviour is the concern that many of the violent games previously discussed (especially the Arab games) are desensitizing young Arabs and Muslims to violence, which considering the violence they experience in everyday life may make them prime for terrorist recruitment. Australian Labour Member of Parliament Michael Danby has even specifically identified Hezbollahs Special Force as dehumanizing westerners and encouraging suicide bombing.71 Again such public observations do seem to be backed by Anderson and Dills finding that long-term exposure to violent video games has a desensitizing effect, which comes hand-in-hand with the ever-increasing violence in the media. 72 The implications of this are most pertinent with Arab and Muslim youths, especially in the Middle East, where it has been found that boys aged 12 to 16 years that live in the West Bank become predisposed to martyrdom when they habituate to violence.73 It should be a concern that this demographic, which is most vulnerable to being recruited by terrorist groups are also the biggest consumers of violent video games that engenders aggressive behaviour and desensitizes violence. When this is put in conjunction with the desire to become suicide bombers and terrorists, as well as the effect of Arab games as a recruitment tool, the outlook for the next generation of terrorism may be expected to be especially grim. While it may be argued that many young Palestinians lack access to computers, a scenario can be posited whereby terrorist organisations like Hezbollah or Hamas could provide computers to Palestinian youths in the name of social welfare. Hezbollah itself has been known to provide support to Palestinians in an effort to win hearts and minds in the region.74 Another concern with the future prosects of terrorist video games, especially from Hezbollah, is that it may start to take the form of interactive tutorials. Hezbollah is known for their high quality instructional videos, many of which have been used by other terrorist groups (some even removing the Hezbollah logos and apologizing for the secular music typically used). 75 If the quality of these tutorials are incorporated into video games, it can only be expected that they will prove to be even more popular and spread, with Hezbollahs propaganda branching out further. This is especially likely with the greater cooperation between some Sunni and Shiite groups, which has culminated in the two training together against their common enemies, making the sharing of resources more likely. 76
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While the potential efficacy of commercially-available video games with terrorism, counter-terrorism and national security has been highlighted, it is important to not overestimate its effect on real-life attacks, especially by people without formal paramilitary training. This can be exemplified by Columbine shooter Eric Harris, who broke his nose due to the recoil of his shotgun.77 As suggested Blank, video games as training tools do not duplicate the same physical and mental conditions a real-life situation has, but will nevertheless be a major part of supplementary training in the military.78 There is nothing to suggest that the same cant be said for terrorist groups as well.

Video Games: New Form of Terrorism

Finally, there is a further potential that skills garnered from video games may bolster a new form of terrorism. The changing face of warfare and counter-terrorism has led to the use of unmanned weapons platforms, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and the Dragon Runner, a 15 inch, unmanned remote-controlled reconnaissance vehicle. The controller for this was modelled from that of the Sony PlayStation 2 because it was anticipated that younger operators would have some inherent skill with it.79 This technological shift may be a new frontier for terrorists, especially considering the ways in which they have emulated military and counter-terrorist groups in their utilization of online worlds and games. Typically mundane objects like remotecontrolled planes and cars, perhaps laden with explosives and a video camera (like a UAV) may be used as delivery mechanisms for carrying out terrorist attacks. One example includes the new iPhone Augmented Reality (AR) Drone, which can fly at 11 miles per hour (or 17.7km/h) for 15 minutes with a range of 50 metres.80 It also boasts two cameras that can provide streaming video to the pilots iPhone, which also acts as the controller.81 In this case, video games, especially with real-life images as backdrops, may work to not only enhance the navigation and control skills of the operator, but also desensitize them from the violence that they intend to inflict. This form of terrorism presents new challenges to conventional counter-terrorism measures, where the use of long-range (remote-controlled) attacks can manoeuvre over safeguards such as fences, walls and even security guards. The distance between the terrorist and the actual violence done may also make it easier to do, becoming very much like a video game. The distance also makes it harder for the perpetrator to be caught, especially with the use of rather innocuous items, such as remote-controlled planes and drones.

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The current and potential uses of online virtual worlds and video games for terrorist purposes should therefore be of greater concern than is currently the case. Terrorists are in desperate need to avoid attention during their training, which makes large, heavily populated virtual communities a natural solution. This allows for education, the spread of propaganda and the simulation of potential terrorist attacks outside the watchful gaze of authorities. National security groups and the military have likewise made use of virtual worlds for the recruitment, training and education of their personnel, as well as possible simulators for security threats. It is also arguable that terrorists would seek to use virtual worlds as a means of communication considering the anonymity it offers and the fact that counter-terrorism agencies are impotent in dealing with this new medium. With video games, the argument is that it further reinforces the idea of an us versus them categorization, as well as the prevailing stereotype of Arabs and Muslims as terrorists or insurgents. This sets the stage for the greater consumption of Middle Eastern games that may make a subset of young Arab gamers already predisposed to martyrdom especially susceptible to the games propaganda and therefore terrorism. National security and counter-terrorism circles have supplemented their training with video games since its inception, modifying off-the-shelf games and then eventually making their own. The aim is to improve their tactical skills, as well as how they interact with Arabs and Muslims, which is one important approach in dealing with the us versus them issue and the war on terror in general. Terrorists are likely to exploit video games for their own ends, due to the fact that beyond the tactical skills it can teach, it can function as an interactive educational tool superior to traditional training manuals. Violent video games have also been seen to both cause aggressive behaviour with certain individuals, while also having a desensitizing effect to violence. The fact that some Arab and Muslim youths who have habituated to the violence they experience in real life are more likely to become suicide bombers is only reinforced by playing these games. This makes them both more aggressive and even more susceptible to the propaganda in the game. It can perhaps be anticipated that video games, especially those developed by Hezbollah, may start to become more like interactive tutorials in an endeavour to create a greater demand for them (like Hezbollahs instructional videos) and promote its doctrine. Moreover, considering the instances in which terrorists have emulated national security and counter-terrorist groups in their use of virtual worlds and games, there is substance to the idea of terrorists using remote-controlled planes and drones
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as a low-tech form of an UAV. Guided with the dexterity developed from video games and perhaps a rendering of the target environment in a 3D simulation, the delivery platform can be laden with explosives and used to conduct kamikaze-like attacks. Considering the array of terrorist applications of virtual worlds and video games, it is evident that its effects will become more serious as virtual worlds expand, gaming technology (realism) gets better, the us versus them issue goes unaddressed and more and more young gamers become heavier consumers of games. Authorities must therefore counter these issues as part of its broader counter-terrorism strategy. A proactive rather than a reactive stance is thus needed in order to have an impact on the next generation of terrorism.

1 Terrence OBrien, Boy Saves Sister from Moose Attack with Skills Learned in Warcraft Video Game, Switched, 10 December 2007. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010). Anne Stenersen, The Internet: A Virtual Training Camp?, Terrorism and Political Violence, Vol. 20 (2008), pp.215-233, p.216 Rory Callinan, Terror in the Suburbs? Time, 14 November 2005. Available at,9171,1130220,00.html (accessed 10 February 2010). Ibid. Natalie OBrien, Virtual Terrorists, The Australian, 31 July 2007. Available at (accessed 9 February 2010). Ibid. Roderick Jones, Congressional Hearing on Virtual Worlds, Counterterrorism Blog, 2 April 2008. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010). A Cochran, MetaTerror: The Potential Use of MMORPGs by Terrorists, Counterterrorism Blog, 1 March 2007. Available at metaterror_the_potential_use_o.php (accessed 10 February 2010). Hsinchun Chen, Sven Thoms & Tianjun Fu, Cyber Extremism in Web 2.0: An Exploratory Study of International Jihadist Groups, IEEE International Conference on Intelligence and Security Informatics, (2008), pp.1-6, p.5.

2 3 4 5

6 7

10 Ibid. 11 Chris Vallance, US Seeks Terrorists in Web Worlds, BBC, 3 March 2008. Available at (Accessed 10 February 2010). 12 Stenersen, p.228. Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1


13 The emphasis on anonymity runs counter to Roderick Jones prediction of Jihadi worlds developing in the next five years. 14 Clay Wilson, Avatars, Virtual Reality Technology, and the U.S. Military: Emerging Policy Issues, CRS Report for Congress, (2008), pp.1-6, p.3. Rita Bush & Kenneth Kisiel, Information and Behavior Exploitation in Virtual Worlds: An Overview, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, (2007), pp.1-9, p.6. 15 Wilson, p.4. 16 Audrey K. Cronin, Behind the Curve: Globalization and International Terrorism, International Security, Vol. 27, (2003), pp.30-58, p.48. 17 Ni Ching-Ching, Chinese Log on for Retribution, Los Angeles Times, 5 September 2006. Available at (accessed 9 February 2010). 18 Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Data Mining Report, 15 February 2008. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010), p.5. 19 Vallance. 20 Roderick Jones, Virtual Worlds Require Virtual-HUMINT (VHUMINT), Counterterrorism Blog, 7 May 2008. Available at worlds_require_virtual.php (accessed 10 February 2010). 21 James D. Derian, The Simulation Syndrome: From War Games to Game Wars, Social Text, Vol. 24 (1990), pp.187-192, p.188. 22 United States Air Force Air Education and Training Command, On Learning: The Future of Air Force Education and Training, Air Education and Training Command, 30 January 2008. Available at (accessed 8 February 2010), p.21. 23 Ibid. 24 Ibid. 25 US Air Force Education and Training Command, p.23. 26 US Air Force Education and Training Command, p.24-26. 27 Eric T. Lofgren & Nina H. Fefferman, The Untapped Potential of Virtual Game Worlds to Shed Light on Real World Epidemics, The Lancet, vol. 7 (2007), pp.625-629, p.628. 28 Ibid. 29 Lofgren & Fefferman, p.627. 30 Marvin Wingfield, Arab Americans: Into the Multicultural Mainstream, Equity and Excellence in Education, Vol. 39 (2006), pp.253-266, p.255. 31 Amil Khan, Teens Slam Racist Game, but Still Love It, Reuters, 22 April, 2004. 32 Henry A. Giroux, War on Terror, Third Text, Vol. 18 (2004), pp.211-221, p.218.

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33 Marcus Power, Digitized Virtuosity: Video War Games and Post 9/11 Cyber Deterrence, Security Dialogue, Vol. 38 (2007), pp.271-288, p.273. 34 Anne Aly, Australian Muslim Responses to the Discourse on Terrorism in the Australian Popular Media, Australian Journal of Social Sciences, Vol. 42 (2007), pp.27-40, p.35. 35 Madeleine Gruen, ZOGs Nightmare (and the CT Analysts Dilemma), Counterterrorism Blog, 6 August 2008. Available at anal.php (accessed 9 February 2010). 36 Ibid. 37 Thomas L. Friedman, Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide, New York Times, 22 July 2005. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010). 38 Kim Ghattas, Syria Launches Arab War Game, BBC, 31 May 2002. Available at (accessed 8 February 2010). 39 Lofgren & Fefferman. 40 Ghattas. 41 Alexander R. Galloway, Social Realism in Gaming, The International Journal of Computer Game Research, Vol. 4 (2004). Available at (accessed 10 February 2010). 42 Helga T. Souri, The Political Battlefield of Pro-Arab Video Games on Palestinian Screens, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vol. 27 (2007), pp.538-551, p.537. 43 David Machin & Usama Suleiman, Arab and American Computer War Games: The Influence of a Global Technology on Discourse, Critical Discourse Studies, Vol. 3 (2006), pp.1-22, pp.7-10. 44 Souri, p.539. 45 Machin & Suleiman, p.11. 46 Ghattas. 47 Galloway. 48 Il-Chul Moon, Mike Schneider & Kathleen M. Carley, Evolution of Player Skill in the Americas Army Game, Simulation, Vol. 82 (2006), pp.703-718, p.707. 49 Galloway. 50 Ibid. 51 Craig A. Anderson & Karen E. Dill, Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in the Laboratory and in Life, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 78 (2000), pp.772-790, p.772. Power, p.273. Roger Stahl, Have you played the War on Terror? Critical Studies in Media Communication, Vol 23 (2006), pp.112-130, p.117. Dennis Blank, US Buys into Video Gaming to Supplement Training, Janes Defence Weekly, 14 December 2005. Available from Janes Terrorism & Security Monitor Database (accessed 9 February 2010). Dennis Blank, Military Wargaming: A Commercial Battlefield, Janes Defence Weekly, Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1


11 February 2004. Available from Janes Terrorism & Security Monitor Database (accessed 10 February 2010). Peoples Daily Online, Counter-Strike, China Polices Latest Tool of AntiTerrorism, Peoples Daily Online, 13 September 2007. Available at cn/90001/90776/6262328.html (accessed 10 February 2010). 52 John Crace, War Game: Tap, Tap Youre Dead! How Computer Games Became the Armys Latest Training Tool,, The Guardian, 8 July 2002. Available at education/2002/jul/09/furthereducation.uk1 (accessed 10 February 2010). 53 Ibid. 54 Ibid. 55 Suzanne Goldenberg, Two Years after the War Began, A Growing Number of US troops are Refusing to Return to Iraq, The Guardian, 19 March 2008. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010). 56 Blank, Military Wargaming. 57 Remi Hajjar, The Armys New TRADOC Culture Centre, Military Review, November-December 2006. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010), p.91. 58 Newsweek, Anatomy of a Massacre, Newsweek, 3 May 1999. Available at (accessed 9 February 2010), p.2. 59 Anderson & Dill. 60 Mark Ward, Columbine Families Sue Computer Game Makers, BBC, 1 May 2001. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010). 61 Nancy Gibbs, Timothy Roche, Andrew Goldstein, Maureen Harrington & Richard Woodbury, The Columbine Tapes, Time, 20 December 1999. Available at magazine/article/0,9171,992873,00.html (accessed 8 February 2010). 62 Newsweek, p.4. 63 Moon, et al., p.707-709. 64 Stenersen, p.224. 65 Stahl, p.123, Moon, et al., p.705. 66 Power, p.283. 67 Galloway. 68 Anderson & Dill, p.772. 69 Nicholas L. Carnagey & Craig A. Anderson, Changes in Attitudes Towards War and Violence After September 11, 2001, Aggressive Behaviour, Vol. 33 (2007), pp.118-129, p.120. 70 Ibid. Michelle Slone & Anat Shoshani, Evaluation of Preparatory Measures for Coping with Anxiety Raised by Media Coverage of Terrorism, Journal of Counselling Psychology, Vol. 53 (2006), pp.535-542, p.538.

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71 Alfred Hackensberger, Shooting Baruch Goldstein, Carpet Bombing Beirut, Qantara, 2 August 2005. 72 Anderson & Dill, p.774. Jason Burke, Theatre of Terror,, 21 November 2004. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010). 73 Nathaniel Laor, Leo Wolmer, Moshe Alon, Joanna Siev, Eliahu Samuel & Paz Toren, Risk and Protective Factors Mediating Psychological Symptoms and Ideological Commitment of Adolescents Facing Continuous Terrorism, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, V ol. 194 (2006), pp.279-286, p.284. 74 Bilal Y. Saab & Bruce O. Riedel, Expanding the Jihad: Hizballahs Sunni Islamist Network, (Washington DC: The Brookings Institute, 2007) p.427. 75 Stenersen, p.222 and 220. 76 The 9/11 Commission Report, The Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Authorized Edition (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2006), p.61. 77 Gibbs, et al. 78 Blank, US Buys into Video Gaming. 79 William L. Hamilton, Toymakers Study Troops, and Vice Versa, The New York Times, 30 March 2003. Available at (accessed 10 February 2010). 80 Daily Mail Reporter, Pictured: The iPhone-Controlled Mini-Drone that could be the Future of Gaming, Daily Mail Online, 18 January 2010. Available at sciencetech/article-1243959/AR-Drone-The-flying-saucer-like-mini-drone-controlled-iPhone.html (accessed 12 February 2010). 81 Ibid.

Patrick Abordo holds a Bachelor of Arts Psychology from Macquarie University, a Master of Criminology from Sydney University and a Master of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism from Macquarie University.

Patrick Abordo

Author acknowledgement

I would like to thank Adjunct Professor Clive Williams from the Centre of Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism at Macquarie University for inspiring me to pursue this field and appealing to my interests in both the virtual and real world. ooOoo

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Caught Unawares, Not Looking, or Both? Australian Intelligence Failures in the 2006 Fiji Coup dEtat
Vimal Chand1 MAIPIO This paper reflects the authors personal opinions and does not represent the views of any official Australian department or agency.


Despite months of concerted effort by the Australian Government and other nations in the region, on 5 December 2006, Commodore Bainimarama, the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), overthrew the democratically elected Government of Fiji. The failure of Australian efforts to deter Commodore Bainimarama is examined in this article as an intelligence failure. Several questions are posed: Did Australian intelligence underestimate the RFMFs unity, training and quality of the RFMF officers and public relations capabilities and tactics? Is it possible that Australian policy makers relied on flawed intelligence predicting entrenched rifts in the military leadership? The article argues that some of the causes for intelligence failures in the 2003 Iraq war and the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on America can also be identified in the intelligence failures in Fiji in 2006.


In late 2006, Fijis political situation deteriorated as tensions grew between the Laisenia Qarase Government and Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, the head of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF). 0n 5 December 2006, Commodore Bainimarama deposed the democratically elected Government of Fiji and assumed executive authority.2 The Australian response to the 2006 Fijian crisis is discussed in this article as an intelligence failure. This article reviews intelligence failures identified in the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War and the terrorist attacks on the United States in September 2001 as a means of examining the Australian intelligence failures in Fiji.
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In the first part of the article, possible causes for the intelligence failures are outlined and a discussion on the Australian military deployment to Fiji in December 2006 is developed. The second part consists of an analysis of the identified failures and the authors observations on the Australian involvement in the Fiji crisis.

Description of Intelligence Failures

There is no universally accepted definition of intelligence failure. This article uses Stephen Marrins definition who wrote that intelligence failure is often used to connote a situation in which policymakers are surprised by an incident, even if the surprise causes minimal impact to national security or strategic interests. 3 An examination of the wide range of alternative definitions is outside the scope of this article. Possible causes for intelligence failures were identified by reviewing the writings of Robert Jervis, Stephen Marrin and Peter Jenningsprominent writers on recent intelligence failures and from discussions with former Australian intelligence staff. Five possible causes help to frame the discussions on the intelligence failures in Fiji: (i) lack of area knowledge and empathy4; (ii) lack of imagination; (iii) focus on counter-terrorism and lack of strategic assessments; (iv) reliance on external agencies; and (v) the breakdown of relationship between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and the RFMF.

Lack of Empathy and Failure to Acquire Area Knowledge

Fiji has experienced significant political upheaval over the last twenty years, a trait shared by many of its neighbours in the Pacific. Graeme Dobell, the Foreign Affairs/ Defence Correspondent for Radio Australia, equated the ever-present threat in the Pacific region from natural disasters to the danger of political unrest5. Dobells analogy encapsulates the feeling of many Australians of a sense of resignation that little can be done to prevent the next coup, the next rebellion or the next riot. As a former Fiji resident, I have been asked Why is it so easy to execute a coup? and After one coup, shouldnt measures to prevent further coups been implemented? These questions indicate the difficulty many Australians have in comprehending the unique and complex nature of Fijian society and Fijis distinctive political landscape which to many Australians seems poles apart to the way things are done in Australia. The existence of rival power centres: the Great Council of Chiefs, the Methodist Church and the Militarywhich exercise influence on Fijian society at times rivalling and even challenging the pre-eminence of the elected Governmentis a concept alien to many Australians. As Jervis explained, ...empathy is difficult when the others beliefs and behaviour are strange and self-defeating.6

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The effect of the strangeness of Fijian culture and the Fijian political landscape on the Australian intelligence communitys (AICs) interpretation of Fijian affairs, has parallels in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In discussing the logic or lack of itbehind the refusal by Saddam Hussein to allow inspectors to check for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), Philip Flood, the author of the report into Australian intelligence failures initiated in 2004, wrote If he did not have WMDs, why did he not ultimately comply with the inspection regime, in order to ensure the survival of his regime?.7 That this question remains a source of debate and conjecture even today highlights the difficulty analysts face when assessing situations where the culture and traditions differ markedly to their own and the actions and motivations of protagonists may appear illogical, irrational or even implausible. As Jervis puts it, it is difficult to get it right when the truth is implausible.8

Lack of Imagination

Related to the failure of a lack of empathy and knowledge of Fijis political landscape and culture, is the argument that the AIC should have been more imaginative. Jervis argues that the failure to be imaginative can be identified in intelligence failures ranging from the inability to predict the revolt that unseated the Shah of Iran to Al Qaedas attack on America on 9/11, where intelligence failed to connect the dots9 Likewise in Fiji there were a great many dots which could have been connected. The AIC failed to conceive and evaluate possible post-coup scenarios and the strategies Commodore Bainimarama might employ to govern Fiji10. The Fiji Labour Party (FLP) is one of Fijis major political parties and has been in Government twice, in 1987 and again in 2000removed from Government in military coups on both occasions. The leader of the FLP, Mr Mahendra Chaudhry along with two other members of the FLP accepted positions as ministers in the Interim Government formed by Commodore Bainimarama following the coup. The appointment of Mr Chaudhry succeeded to a large extent in securing support for the regime from the countrys Indo-Fijians traditional supporters of the FLP. The FLP leaders appointment was also valuable as Mr Chaudhry had served as Minister for Finance in two previous FLP led Governments and his experience was highly regarded.

Focus on Counter-Terrorism and Lack of Long-Term Assessment

The events in Fiji occurred during a period when Australian intelligence agencies had undergone a period of re-organisation following the 9/11 attacks which redefined much of Australias strategic landscape.11 The 9/11 attacks by Al Qaeda pushed Australias intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities into the frontline to deal with the threat of Islamic terrorism. Counter-terrorism is important, but as Peter
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Jennings, a former high ranking official in the AIC argued, it is far from the only strategic issue on which our agencies must report.12 Furthermore, following 9/11 and the 2002 Bali bombings, a large part of the Australian intelligence agencies workload had been configured towards producing current intelligence reports, often with a predominant counter-terrorism focus.13 While shortterm reporting is a crucial part of intelligence, Jennings quotes the Flood Report produced in 2004, which expressed concern that the demand for short-term reporting was crowding out the capacity to produce long-term assessments. Such long-term assessments which make judgments about trends over a decade or more, are vital for strategic thinking and assisting policy-makers in taking policy decisions.

Reliance on External Agencies

While the AIC focused its efforts on what came to be known as the War on Terror, intelligence on events in the Pacific was reliant on inputs received from U.S. and New Zealand intelligence agencies. Concerns were expressed at the degree of reliance on inputs from the New Zealand intelligence agencies amid question marks around their comparatively small investment in their armed forces and intelligence capabilities.14 Australia has also traditionally relied on American intelligence inputs to bolster its monitoring of events in the Oceania region. In the absence of an adequate Australian intelligence network, reliance on American intelligence during the crisis of 2006 was magnified. However, American intelligence resources were largely focused on supporting American forces deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and in monitoring threats from Islamic terrorists. While the AIC was reliant on the Americans for intelligence on Fiji, the Americans were eager for Australia to take the lead in responding to events that posed a threat to the interests of America and her allies in the Oceania region. The outcome was that Australian intelligence resources dedicated to monitoring events in Fiji were inadequate and the AIC was caught out when events began to escalate.

Breakdown in Relationships with the RFMF

Human Intelligence (HumInt) on the RFMFs strategy, capabilities and limitations was in short supply in the period prior to the 2006 coup. Assessments being developed on the Fiji situation in Canberra used reports filed by a few Australian and New Zealand journalists and on situation reports submitted by the Australian diplomatic mission. The quality of the diplomatic input was adversely affected by the lack of relationships and contact with the RFMF leadership. Due to the strained relationships with the Fijian militarys senior officers, the intelligence received in Canberra from Australian sources in Fiji did not provide any meaningful insights into the thinking of the RFMFs leadership.15
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The Australian military deployment to Fiji

As Fijis political situation deteriorated towards the end of 2006, with Commodore Bainimarama making increasingly aggressive public statements, the Australian Government threatened military action in an attempt to force the Commodore to back down. On 2 November 2006, the Australian Government announced that an Australian ADF Task Force was being deployed to Fiji.16 If the Australian government had expected the deployment of the Australian fleet to lead to a wavering of resolve in the RFMF leadership, or provoke demonstrations of support for the Qarase Government from the public and sympathetic RFMF officers, they were disappointed. The RFMF responded to the deployment of the ADF Task Force by calling up all RFMF reservists for active duty, positioning heavy weapons along the Suva sea-shore and securing strategic sites. Commodore Bainimarama also initiated a public relations campaign portraying him as the defender of Fijian sovereignty, and accused Prime Minister Qarase of seeking military assistance from the Australian Government in a desperate bid to remain in office. According to Dr Steven Ratuva, Senior Lecturer in Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, since the 1987 coup the RFMF has developed a formidable public relations machinery to win the hearts and minds17 of Fijis citizens to further its objectives. Dr Ratuva wrote that the RFMF has acquired considerable expertise in the use of public relations which included the use of the media to propagate its views; the use of socio-cultural (Vanua) links to consolidate military support among indigenous Fijians and exploiting its influence with the Methodist Church to mobilise public opinion.18 In the event, the ADF Task Force aborted its mission and returned to Australia following an accident on 29 November 2006 involving a Blackhawk helicopter. Tragically, Captain Mark Bingley and Corporal Joshua Porter lost their lives in the accident.19

Covert Operations

On 3 November 2006 a day after the ADF Task Force was deployed to Fiji a group of eight Australians arrived at Nadi International Airport on board a commercial flight from Sydney with a large consignment of cargo.20 With assistance from elements within the Fiji Police Force sympathetic to Prime Minister Qarase, the ostensibly civilian group left the airport without submitting to Customs and Immigrations checks, but their arrival was detected by Fijian military intelligence. Speculation that the eight were
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members of the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) regiment was reported in the media21, leading to heightened tensions between the RFMF and the Fijian Government and further inflaming anti-Australian sentiments within the RFMF leadership. Over the days following the groups arrival, the RFMFs public relations machinery kicked into gear and alleged that the ADF was planning hostile actions against the RFMF. The RFMF alleged that the Australians cargo included weapons and sophisticated communications equipment meant for use in communicating with the ADF Task Force en route towards Kadavu, an island south of Suva.22 Surveillance was placed around the Australian Embassy in the days following the groups arrival, preventing the Australian team from moving around the country freely and denying any opportunity to gather intelligence on RFMF capabilities and preparedness. The discovery of the Australian intelligence detachment proved to be an embarrassment for the Australian Government. Colonel Pita Driti, the RFMFs Land Forces Commander, claimed that the arrival of covert Australian forces resembled Papua New Guineas mercenary Sandline affair.23 Colonel Driti stated that the Australian detachment had brought with them silver boxes weighing over 400 kilograms which were suspected to contain weapons and communications equipment.24

Discussion and Analysis

This article argues that a lack of knowledge of Fijis culture, history and complicated political landscape, a lack of imagination and empathy, over-reliance on American and New Zealand intelligence inputs and an inordinate focus on counter-terrorism contributed to the intelligence failures in Fiji. The following discussion consists of two subsections: an analysis of the causes for the intelligence failures and a discussion of the failed Australian efforts to achieve Australian objectives. Ralph Whitea former professor of psychology at George Washington University defined empathy as understanding the thoughts and feelings of others and argued that intelligence analysts lack of empathy led to serious consequences for decision makers and their respective countries because they misunderstood their adversaries and were surprised by their actions.25 This article has identified a lack of area knowledge and empathy as possible causes for the intelligence failures in Fiji in 2006. Australian analysts failed to imagine the possibility that the RFMF, a predominantly indigenous Fijian institution which has traditionally espoused indigenous political supremacy in Fiji, would overthrow an indigenous Prime Minister at the head of a
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Causes for Intelligence Failures


nationalist Government. Motivations, actions and scenarios which seemed strange and self-defeating may have proved difficult for Australian analysts to countenance and predict in Fiji in 2006.26 Furthermore, the seemingly unending conflicts, mismanagement and frequent political crises in Pacific island countries appear to have contributed to a sense of indignation and apathy within the intelligence community towards our island neighbours. The perception that the island states are unable to manage their own affairs effectively, so Australia must repeatedly bail them out, generated a culture where it was just not worth it to devote attention to Fiji. This may indicate that a sense of they broke it, they can fix it contributed to a lack of interest or commitment to the region in general leading up to the crisis.27 Closely linked to the lack of area knowledge and empathy is the failure of imagination. The 9/11 Commission Report highlighted a failure of imagination as one of the primary reasons for the inability of the American intelligence community to prevent the 9/11 attacks on America.28 A similar lack of imagination may also have been shown by the AIC in its failure to assess the recalcitrance displayed by Commodore Bainimarama to the threatened suspension of aid and imposition of bans by Australia and other traditional donors. Commodore Bainimarama may have been banking onand possibly sought assurances from Asian powers such as China, India and Malaysia to replace Australian, New Zealand and EU assistance to Fiji.29 Applying their imaginations to Commodore Bainimaramas recalcitrance would have flagged this possibility and opened up new policy initiatives, such as Australia urging China to send a clear signal to Commodore Bainimarama to force him to back down. It is also possible that mistrust of the FLP leadership arising from their relationships with their Australian counterparts in the trade union movement led the AIC to shun contact with the FLP. In the process, Australian agencies lost any opportunities they might have had to collect intelligence and influence events in Fiji by using their relationships with Fijis second largest political party30. Also lacking were the long term assessments which could have made important contributions to Australias response to the Fijian crisis. Rev Yabakia noted Fijian social activist and political commentatorwrote that the seeds of the 2006 coup were sown not long after the resolution of the 2000 coup.31 Resources dedicated to producing assessments of events in Fiji in 2000, and revisions of these assessments as new intelligence was obtained, would have given the AIC early warning of the rising tensions in Fiji and helped predict Commodore Bainimaramas course in the months leading up to the December 2006 coup. These vital strategic assessments appear to have been unavailable due to the combined effect of a focus on counter-terrorism and
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demand for short-term reportingeffectively leaving Australian policy makers blind to the developing Fijian crisis. Another factor identified as contributing to the intelligence failures was the high level of reliance on New Zealand and American intelligence inputs for events in the South Pacific. This reliance on friendly agencies by the AIC could have resulted in a situation where the gaps in the Australian assessment of the situation in Fiji were filled with intelligence from external intelligence agencies such as New Zealands, which although no better, was the only source available. It is also possible the tactics adopted by the Australians during the 2006 crisis in Fiji may not have been viewed with the same enthusiasm and resolve by New Zealands defence establishment. Although Australian and New Zealand intelligence agencies enjoy a very close working relationship, the NZ defence establishment may have had greater empathy with the RFMF leadership and placed greater value on maintaining its relationship with the RFMF leadership than the ADF. In an interview given to New Zealand media in 2007, Commodore Bainimarama claimed that the chief of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), Major-General Mateparae, had contacted him before the coup to request that the RFMF protect New Zealand citizens should anything happen.32 Commodore Bainimarama praised Major-General Mateparae for showing understanding of the situation in Fiji33 and contrasted his actions to those of Air Chief Marshall Houston (Chief of the ADF) who had also contacted Commodore Bainimarama before the coup and threatened him with military action. Previous military coups in Fiji have received strong support from New Zealands Maori and Polynesian populations, who empathised with the actions as assertions of indigenous power.34 In a statement to the New Zealand media, Tariana Turia, the coleader of the Maori Party which is represented in the current New Zealand Government, criticised her Government for lack of tolerance towards Fiji compared with other undemocratic countries with which it has trading relationshipsa reference to China.35 This raises the possibility, that while the AIC was reliant on NZ feeds, the NZ defence establishment was not as enthusiastic on offensive operations against the RFMF, a mission that would be unpopular with New Zealands large Maori and Polynesian populations. While not on the same level as the ADF- NZDF alliance, the ADF has traditionally enjoyed a close relationship with the RFMF. The close contact the ADF officers have had with their RFMF counterparts should have been used to develop profiles on the
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strengths, weaknesses and political inclinations of the RFMF leadership; to obtain intelligence on the militarys tactics and planning in relation to events in 2006. The individual good-will between RFMF and ADF military officers presented valuable opportunities for intelligence gathering. However, this appears to have been wasted and the AIC missed an effective mechanism to influence events in the country.36 The total breakdown of contact between the armed forces of Australia and Fiji and the damage to those personal and professional links is perhaps the most significant intelligence failure to result from the events surrounding the 2006 coup.

Australian Military Deployment and Diplomatic Efforts

The deployment of the ADF to Fiji on 2 November 2006 on a potential confrontation with the RFMF was unprecedented. In retrospect, the possibility that Australian forces would have entered into an armed confrontation with the Fijian military, even if the Blackhawk helicopter accident had not occurred, seems to have been remote. While the better training, organisation and equipment of the ADF would have overwhelmed RFMF resistance, the local area knowledge of the Fijian military and support from sections of the public, could have led to a longer than desired military engagement. In comments to the Australian media shortly after the December 2006 coup, Australias former Prime Minister, John Howard, indicated that military intervention was never considered, despite approaches from Prime Minister Qarase.37 Mr Howards comments support the view that the Australian military deployment was essentially a psychological gambit. The deployment failed in its aim of forcing Commodore Bainimarama to back down partly due to a failure to assess the quality and calibre of the RFMF leadership (many of whom were trained at Duntroon and Sandhurst and acquired considerable experience on UN Peacekeeping deployments from Lebanon to Iraq) and their ability to plan and implement countermeasures to the Australian threat. The lack of intelligence being generated from within Fiji necessitated the deployment of an Australian specialist contingent on 3 November 2006. The RFMFs detection of this Australian intelligence contingent removed the element of surprise that would have been essential to the success of any covert operations the group had been planning. The failure of the AIC to implement effective intelligence support arrangements in Fiji had also attracted criticism following the 1987 coup. On 17 May 1987, three days after the takeover by Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka, the Australian Government initiated Operation Morris Dance, designed to use the Australian military to evacuate Australians in Fiji should the need arise. In describing the findings of the review of Operation Morris Dance, Australian military strategist Bob Breen stated that the AIC was not in a position to identify and monitor threats to Australian forces.38 According to Breen, the review of Operation Morris Dance contained nuggets of insight which
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the AIC should have used to improve its networks and capabilities in Fiji and the broader Pacific region; however, it appears that the intelligence in 2006 was no better.39 The AIC also misjudged the extent to which Commodore Bainimaramas bitter and long running personal feud with Prime Minister Qarase had shaped the conflict. For Commodore Bainimarama, backing down would have meant accepting the legitimacy of the civilian Government and recognising its authority to make appointments to the militarys leadershipwhich he probably feared would lead to his demise. There were reports in the Fijian media that Commodore Bainimarama faced possible arrest over the deaths of rebel soldiers in the aftermath of the failed mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks on 2 November 2000 on his return from a visit to New Zealand in late November 2006.40 A reversal of position by Commodore Bainimarama would also have contradicted his defiant rhetoric against foreign intervention and shattered his carefully constructed image as a military strongman. By demonstrating that he had stood up to the regions dominant power, Commodore Bainimarama emerged from the crisis with his credentials as an astute strategist consolidated and his status and aura as a military strongman enhanced.41 Commodore Bainimarama also successfully used the formidable RFMF public relations machinery to portray himself as the defender of Fijian sovereignty in the face of a foreign military threat to secure the loyalty of his soldiers and influence public opinion in his favour. The Australian effort to dissuade the Commander from overthrowing the Government also included aggressive diplomatic manoeuvring. On 28 November 2006, while the ADF Task Force was conducting exercises around Kadavu, south of Suva, the Australian High Commissioner in Fiji, Jennifer Rawson, visited the headquarters of the RFMF the Queen Elizabeth Barracks outside Suva and met with senior RFMF officers. During her visit, Commissioner Rawson is alleged to have encouraged the officers to remove Commodore Bainimarama from office.42 Speaking at a military passing out parade four months after the 2006 coup, Colonel Pita Driti confirmed he had been approached about withdrawing his support from Commodore Bainimarama.43 It is possible that the Australian High Commissioner may have been acting on information that Commodore Bainimarama was susceptible to a move by forces from within the military to oust him as Commander of the RFMF. The question is posed here whether Australian officials gave undue credence to inputs they may have received from people closely linked with the Qarase Government or from members of the Government itself. If inputs were being received from within the Qarase Government, then a fair amount of scepticism would have been appropriate considering the predicament facing Prime Minister Qarase and his Government. It bears noting that the Qarase Government had made three unsuccessful attempts to remove Commodore Bainimarama from office since it came to power in 2001.44
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Recent history shows that individuals and groups feed biased inputs to intelligence agencies in a bid to influence the agency to adopt a position favourable to their own interests and aims. Examination of the intelligence failures in Iraq demonstrated how groups such as the Iraqi National Congress, led by Mr Ahmed Chalabi, exaggerated and even falsified information relayed to the Central Intelligence Agency on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction capabilities to secure funding and win influence with the Americans.45 The attempt to isolate Commodore Bainimarama failed and the RFMF leaderships hostility towards the Australian presence in Fiji became entrenched, as recent events demonstrate. On 4 November 2009, following numerous accusations that Australia was interfering in Fijis domestic affairs, Commodore Bainimarama expelled the Australian High Commissioner, breaking diplomatic links between Australia and Fiji for the first time since the 2006 coup.


A number of causes identified as contributing to intelligence failures in the 2003 Iraq war and the 9/11 Al Qaeda attacks on America, can also be identified in the failures in Fiji. For Australian analystslike their American counterparts developing analysis on Iraqthe intricacies of Fijian society with a culture and traditions markedly different to their own were difficult to fathom. This article also highlights that there are potential pitfalls to intelligence cooperation between countries. A reliance on external agencies for intelligence led to a lack of investment in an Australian intelligence network in the Pacific region to deliver Australia specific intelligence. The argument is made that there is no substitute for credible human intelligence (Humint). In countries like Fiji, where the military plays a significant role in the political affairs of the country, maintaining intelligence networks and relationships with the military leadership is perhaps the most effective mechanism available to pursue Australian objectives.

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Feedback and/or comments can be sent to the author by email at M. Brown, Fiji coup leader in control, AAP, (5 December 2006). S. Marrin, Preventing Intelligence Failures by learning from the past, International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Vol. 17 (2004), pp.655672. R. Jervis, Reports, Politics and Intelligence Failures: The Case of Iraq, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2006) pp.3-52. G. Dobell., The Pacific legitimacy problem, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Strategic Policy Forum (20 February 2007). R. Jervis, Reports, Politics and Intelligence Failures: The Case of Iraq, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2006) pp.3-52. P. Flood, Report of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies, Chapter 3, p.23. R. Jervis, Reports, Politics and Intelligence Failures: The Case of Iraq, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2006) pp.3-52. R. Jervis, Reports, Politics and Intelligence Failures: The Case of Iraq, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2006) pp.3-52.

10 Discussions with former Fijian officials 11 P. Jennings, Unfinished Business: Reforming our Intelligence Agencies, Policy, Vol. 20, No.4 (2004). 12 Ibid. 13 Ibid. 14 Discussions with former Australian intelligence staff. 15 Ibid. 16 Department of Defence, ADF Task Force in the South West Pacific Returns to Australia (20 December 2006). 17 S. Ratuva, The pre-election cold war: The role of the Fiji military during the 2006 election, From election to coup in Fiji: the 2006 campaign and its aftermath, J. Fraenkal & S. Firth (Eds), (Canberra: ANU EPress, 2007). 18 Ibid. 19 K. Murphy, Blackhawk plunges into sea off Fiji, Sydney Morning Herald (30 November 2009). 20 M. McKenna, Fiji fears entry of our elite soldiers, The Australian (7 November 2009). 21 Ibid.

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22 P. Cave, Fiji attacks Australia over arrival of police, (Transcript AM), ABC Net (6 November 2000), (Accessed 24 October 2009). 23 Sandline was the private security firm recruited by the PNG Government for deployment in Bougainville against separatist rebels. The PNG military rebelled against the Government for its engagement of mercenaries leading to the ouster of Sir Julius Chan as Prime Minister. 24 P. Cave, Fiji attacks Australia over arrival of police, (Transcript AM), ABC Net (6 November 2000), (Accessed 24 October 2009). 25 S. Marrin, Adding value to the intelligence product, From Handbook of Intelligence Studies, L. Johnson (Ed), (Routledge, 2009) pp.199-210. 26 Ibid. 27 Discussions with former Australian intelligence staff 28 The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Washington, (DC: W.W. Norton & Co.,2004) p.336. 29 Discussions with former Fijian Parliamentarians. 30 Discussions with former FLP officials 31 Rev. A.,Yabaki, Background to the 2006 Fiji Military Coup (1 February 2007). 32 Fijis interim prime minister says New Zealand Defence Force head understands Fiji, Radio New Zealand (11 September 2007). 33 Ibid. 34 A delegation led by Maori activist Tame Iti had visited George Speight and other coup leaders at the Fijian Parliament complex at the height of the 2000 coup to express their support and solidarity (Authors recollections of events around the 2000 coup). 35 Bainimarama deserves hearing Turia says, New Zealand Herald News (4 May 2009). 36 J. Tonkin-Covell., Fiji: Dealing with a broken state, New Zealand International Review, May-June 2009. 37 M. Brown, Fiji coup leader in control, AAP (5 December 2006). 38 B. Breen, Struggling for Self Reliance Four case studies of Australias Regional Force Projection in the late 1980s and the 1990s, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2008. 39 Ibid. 40 E. OBrien, Fiji Coup unlikely after Military Talks, Qarase says, (30 November 2006). 41 J. Post, The defining moment of Saddams life: A political psychology perspective on the leadership and decision making of Saddam Hussein during the Gulf Crisis, From The political psychology of the Gulf War, leaders, publics and the process of conflict, S. Renshon (ed), (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004).

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42 Driti reveals foreign plot, Fiji Times Online (13 April 2007). 43 Ibid. 44 Rev. A.,Yabaki, Background to the 2006 Fiji Military Coup (1 February 2007). 45 Congressman G. Miller, On Ahmad Chalabi, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraqs newly constituted government, US House of Representatives (7 November 2005) record.xpd?id=109-h20051107-50 (Accessed on 25 October 2009).

Army man abroad, Fiji Times Online (2 June 2008), (Accessed on 23 October 2009). Australian Agency for International Development, Summary of Australias aid program 2006-2007, Commonwealth of Australia (2006). Breen, B., Struggling for Self Reliance Four case studies of Australias Regional Force Projection in the late 1980s and the 1990s, ANU E Press, Canberra, 2008. Cave, P., Fiji attacks Australia over arrival of police, (Transcript AM), ABC Net (6 November 2000), (Accessed 24 October 2009). Driti reveals foreign plot, Fiji Times Online (13 April 2007). Fiji Hostage Crisis Over, BBC News (13 July 2000). Fijis interim prime minister says New Zealand Defence Force head understands Fiji, Radio New Zealand (11 September 2007). Global Jigsaw ASPIs strategic assessments 2008, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Strategy (October 2008). Brown, M., Fiji coup leader in control, AAP (5 December 2006). Cave, P., Fiji attacks Australia over arrival of police, (Transcript AM), ABC Net (6 November 2000), (Accessed 24 October 2009). Davis, G., Despot for diversity, The Australian (1 May 2009). Davis, G., Fiji Army Chief has a valid cause, The Australian, (25 November 2006). Department of Defence, ADF Preparations To Ensure Safety Of Australians In Fiji, Defence Media Release, CPA 288/06 (2 November 2006). Department of Defence, ADF Task Force in the South West Pacific Returns to Australia (20 December 2006). Dobell., M., The Pacific legitimacy problem, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Strategic Policy Forum (20 February 2007) Fraenkel, J., Fijis December 2006 coup: Who, what, where and why? The 2006 Military Takeover in Fiji A Coup to End All Coups?, J. Fraenkel, S. Firth and B. Lal (Eds.), (Canberra: ANU Epress, 2009).

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Hanson, F., The Dragon looks south, Lowy Institute for International Policy (June 2008). Jennings, P., Unfinished Business: Reforming our Intelligence Agencies, Policy, Vol. 20, No.4 (2004). Jervis, R., Reports, Politics and Intelligence Failures: The Case of Iraq, The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 29, No. 1 (February 2006) pp.3-52. Marrin, S., Preventing Intelligence Failures by learning from the past, International Journal of Intelligence and Counter-Intelligence, Vol. 17 (2004), pp.655672. Marrin, S., Adding value to the intelligence product, From Handbook of Intelligence Studies, L. Johnson (ed.), (Routledge, 2009), pp199-210. McKenna, M., Fiji fears entry of our elite soldiers, The Australian (7 November 2009). Miller, Congressman G., On Ahmad Chalabi, Deputy Prime Minister of Iraqs newly constituted government, US House of Representatives (7 November 2005) (Accessed on 25 October 2009). Murphy, K., Blackhawk plunges into sea off Fiji, Sydney Morning Herald (30 November 2009). OBrien, E., Fiji Coup unlikely after Military Talks, Qarase says (30 November 2006) (Accessed on 25 October 2009). Pearlman, J., Chinas chequebook diplomacy in Fiji under Fire, SMH Online (21 April 2009), (Accessed on 24 October 2009). Ratuva, S., The pre-election cold war: The role of the Fiji military during the 2006 election, From election to coup in Fiji: the 2006 campaign and its aftermath, J. Fraenkal & S. Firth (Eds), (Canberra: ANU EPress, 2007). Ritova, V., Last minute military report on mutiny impact assessment bolster judges decisions, PAC - Pacific Islands Broadcasting Association (24 November 2004). (accessed on 18 October 2009). Thomson, M., The final straw: Are our defence forces overstretched? Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Special Report, Issue 5 (May 2007). Thomson, P., The Folly of Canberras Stand Against Fiji, Address to the Australia-Fiji Business Council Conference, Intercontinental Hotel, Sydney (14 September 2009). The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Washington, (DC: W.W. Norton & Co.,2004) Tonkin-Covell., J., Fiji: Dealing with a broken state, New Zealand International Review, May-June 2009. Uhlmaan, C., Downer says personnel sent to Fiji for evacuation, (Transcript AM), ABC Net (6 November 2006). Yabaki, Rev. A., Background to the 2006 Fiji Military Coup (1 February 2007).

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Vimal Chand is currently studying for his Masters of Arts (Criminal Intelligence) at Charles Sturt University. He completed his Graduate Diploma in Criminal Intelligence in 2009 and is also a graduate of the National Strategic Intelligence Course (NSIC). ooOoo

Vimal Chand

Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1


The Intelligence Conundrum: Why do we continue to fail?

Alan Watson


This article questions the recurrence of analytical failure within the intelligence community. Why does communication and analysis breakdown result to such an extent in intelligence errors, such as the failure to anticipate the commencement of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, or the WMD debacle that preceded the 2003 Persian Gulf War occur? Is there a common thread that is easily identifiable and if so why has this not been recognised and rectified? The aim of this article is to identify common threads in an attempt to ensure that recognition, along with discussion, leads to an acceptance of the need to provide change within a community which still exists in a post Cold War vacuum.


The purpose of this article is to discuss previous failures within the intelligence community to recognise and overcome intelligence gathering and analysis errors. The indications are that though many lessons have been learned from the errors of the past, the intelligence community still to some extent remains entrenched in a Cold War mindset and philosophy. To facilitate this discussion, the article will focus on the Yom Kippur War of 1973 and the Persian Gulf War of 2003.

An overview of the 1973 Yom Kippur War

As Geller argues the 1973 Yom Kippur War came as a great surprise to both the peoples of Israel and the Israeli Defence Force.1 The surprise according to Geller was more profound amongst the Israeli military intelligence as they believed that they had a firm grasp of the Arab/Israeli threat picture. The Israelis had since the end of the Six Day War in 1967, been receiving continuous signals intelligence and human intelligence in relation to Egyptian and Syrian military movements and objectives. As HughesWilson argues after the victory of the 1967 Six Day War, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) believed it was invincible, both from a military and intelligence perspective.2 Geller reports that Israeli military intelligence analysts faced with a picture of military build up on the borders of the Suez and Golan fronts refused to believe that this was anything more than posturing; an attack was not considered a probability due to the previous Israeli military victories in 1967 and 1970.3
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Geller reports that several months before the attack, which occurred at 1355 hrs on the 6 October 1973, Israeli Military Intelligence (Aman) had received intelligence that clearly indicated that an attack was imminent.4 He adds that Aman Chief, General Eli Zeira, dismissed this intelligence and relied upon the pre-formed belief that Israeli air supremacy would ensure that a combined Syrian/Egyptian attack would not occur. Geller also suggests that while Aman denied the threat of attack, the Israeli Secret Service (Mossad) cautioned against this belief, Mossad Chief Zvi Zamir taking his concerns to the Israeli Prime Minister on the 4th October - the day Russian diplomatic staff flew out of Israel.5 On the 5th October aerial intelligence received by Aman indicated that a massing of surface to air missiles, tanks and military personnel was occurring on both the Golan and Suez fronts, Geller reports that this was to analysts within Aman the final straw, they reported this to Zeira but it was ignored.6 Geller indicates that early on the morning of the 5th October a highly placed intelligence source informed Mossad that attack was imminent; Mossad passed this to Aman.7 Aman Chief Zeira deemed it necessary to fly to Europe and question the source, it was early on the morning of 6th October when Zeira rang Mossad Chief Zamir and said the attack would occur at sunset of that day around 1800 hrs. As Leonhardt reports the Israeli military needed 48 hrs to fully mobilise.8 The time given by Zeira was therefore inadequate, when the attack commenced at 1355 hrs. Israel was caught unprepared and still moving reinforcements forward. The next three weeks witnessed a see saw effect upon the battlefields, however in the end Israel overcame the combined Syrian/Egyptian forces and drove them back, gaining valuable land in the process. The outcome for Israel was a realisation of how close they had come to total disaster and the incident resulted in the instigation of sweeping reforms in intelligence gathering and analysis.

An analysis of the Persian Gulf War and the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The Persian Gulf War of 2003 was driven by United States Government rhetoric that Iraq and its leader Saddam Hussein were assisting the globally active terrorist organisation, al Qaeda. The central proposition of the Bush Administration was that al Qaeda had in their possession and were prepared to deploy weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Although there were conflicting intelligence assessments and sand pit evaluations available from field intelligence officers these warnings were ignored and the rhetoric towards conflict continued9. In particular, the efforts undertaken by President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to convince both the United States Congress and people of the imperative of conflict with Iraq are examples of powerful and charismatic leaders paving the way towards a self fulfilling goal.
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This rhetoric was subsequently supported by intelligence analysis supplied by the western intelligence community. The leaders of the United States of America and the United Kingdom formed an alliance and based upon the overwhelming amount of supportive intelligence launched a military intervention into Iraq. It is unfortunate that the intelligence that the intervention was based upon was neither conclusive nor overwhelming.10 The military intervention began on 27 March 2003 and continues today, since their entry into Iraq the coalition forces deployed to the combat zone have located no weapons of mass destruction. As Kerr et al argue the intelligence reports that were submitted to US Government policy makers during the lead up to the 2003 invasion were completely off the mark11. One of the issues identified by Kerr et al was the intelligence communitys tendency to establish single issue think tanks that would drive policy supporting intelligence out to the policy makers12. The danger in this situation is that the analysts do not gain an overall perspective on the situation under evaluation and policy can and will be driven by a group think mentality. This is exactly what occurred the analysts focussed on technical analysis of previous intelligence from the region and missed out on the macro picture13. As Kerr et al relate,14 of all the methodological elements that contributed, positively and negatively to the Intelligence Communitys performance, the most important seems to be an uncritical acceptance of established positions and assumptions. Gaps in knowledge were left undiscovered or unattended.. Perhaps one of the more similar aspects of the intelligence analysis regarding Iraq to that of the Yom Kippur War was the continual involvement of high level policy makers at an intimate level with the analysts. This close and continuing personal contact, as Kerr et al discuss, led to a greater feeling of a sense of accuracy about the Iraq analysis than the facts could support, or, the intelligence community should have allowed.15

Intelligence analysis blunders

What could have caused these intelligence blunders? Although separated by a period of some thirty years there are common threads between each set of event. There is little doubt that intelligence was available in both cases to indicate clearly that the direction being taken by the Government of the day was wrong. Prior to the first days conflict during the Yom Kippur War the build up of military elements was obvious, human intelligence and signals intelligence all indicated an attack but this was ignored. Prior to the Persian Gulf War the intelligence available indicated a negligible presence of WMD in Iraq, but the attacks went ahead and the resultant destruction and its collateral impacts are being felt today. This report will argue that these historical events were due to human intelligence analysis blunders, in particular groupthink and need for closure.
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Need for closure

Bar-Joseph and Kruglanski argue that the near disaster of the Yom Kippur was based upon failure by two prominent military personnel, in particular they argue16; that a major cause of AMANs defective judgement was a high need for closure on the part of two of its most influential analysts: Major-General Eli Zeira, Director of Military Intelligence (DMI) and an ex-officio government intelligence advisor, and Lieutenant-Colonel Yona Bandman, his most trusted estimator of Egyptian affairs, head of branch 6 of AMAN, in charge of intelligence coverage for Egypt and North Africa. Bar-Joseph and Kruglanski argue that the high degree of need for closure possessed by both Zeira and Bandman led them to freeze on the concept that an attack by Egypt/ Syria was highly unlikely. They further argue there are several behavioural phenomena linked to the need for closure. Although these can be argued as seizing and freezing, they add that the phenomena manifests itself in the individuals reluctance to accept novel or diverging information, by a placement of a premium on clarity, intolerance of pluralism and an authoritarian leadership style.17 Hughes-Wilson notes that when Zeira was approached several days prior to the 4th October by the Head of AMAN Intelligence Collection, Brigadier Porat, with conflicting analysis, Zeira shouted at him and dismissed him, insisting that it was Zeiras role to analyse intelligence and Porats simply to collect it.18 This non-acceptance of any conflicting perspective became a major failure point in the intelligence process. Similarly, Geller, reports that when Zamir, the Head of MOSSAD, informed Zeira of the intelligence supplied by the overseas source Zeira insisted on flying out of Israel to meet with the source, requiring clarity or clarification on a face to face basis.19 Mellers et al describe group think as a situation where members of a group fail to speak out, comply willingly with the opinions of others and fail to voice diverging opinion due to the pressure exerted upon them by senior or more powerful persons to comply with group consensus.20 This leads to problems of clouding of judgement and an inability to accept new information that runs in a different direction than the group beliefs. As Hughes-Wilson argues, the effect of groupthink is greater when it exists amongst policy makers, and subsequently leads to a discounting of sound intelligence analysis and advice.21 Perhaps the solution to the group think problem is the Delphi method of group decision making, this entails a group of analysts being supplied with certain information, from this, they are required to reach a conclusion, and this is done individually with no contact with other analysts. Once the task is
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Group Think


completed the analysis is placed before a committee for consideration. Mellers et al report the Delphi process, as having originated around about 250BC during the rule of King Ptolemy.22 A more recent innovation in solving the problems associated with group think is the solution proposed by Delbecq et al23. Mellers et al describe this as being a mathematically based model, in which analysts make silently considered preliminary judgements followed by re-analysis based upon others views. These judgements are then mathematically rated and aggregated to give an overall analysis result.24 Hughes-Wilson reports that during the period of time that Israel was under the stewardship of Prime Minister Golda Meir a phenomena of group think encapsulated the processes of the inner policy making group of the Israeli government. This group think mentality led to the errors of the 1973 Yom Kippur war.25 As Hughes-Wilson and Kumaraswamy argue the higher levels of government dismissed the ability of Syria and Egypt to mount an attack on Israel due to its apparent air superiority and the inability of Syria and Egypt to work together.26 Bar-Joseph and Kruglanski argue that the high profile of Zeira (DMI) and Bandman (AMAN), (supported by their previous success in forecasting Egyptian/Syrian intent, which was essentially a hedgehog success), along with their close mindedness to possibilities of attack (a mindset which coincidentally agreed with Israeli policy), allowed this groupthink to prevail.27. The indications of a Syrian/ Egyptian alliance, their moves to negate the air superiority of the IAF by the positioning of Russian supplied surface to air missiles (SAM) by the Suez Canal and in proximity to Golan, were all ignored due to the complacency of the AMAN and Government policy makers, who believed wrongly in the concept of Israeli military superiority and invincibility brought on by success in prior conflict against both Egyptian and Syrian forces. The HUMINT supplied by Mossad, the SIGINT gathered by both AMAN and Mossad indicating proximity to war, the VISINT supplied by forward observers by the Suez Canal were all discounted by the Israeli cabinet until hours before the attack.


Primarily the errors within the Israeli intelligence process were the lack of contestability of supplied intelligence analysis combined with the dependence on one group of advisors. This is remarkably similar to the errors that occurred prior to the United Sates invasion of Iraq, the intelligence presented to Congress was uncontested and taken as verbatim. The group of advisors again trapped within a group think paradigm would not have accepted data that indicated any conclusion contrary to the one that they posed. Heichal argues, dependence on one source for intelligence analysis is a fatal flaw.28 Had either groups policy makers been able to view multiple sources of analysis with contestable viewpoints and analysis, then a correct response to the events that were occurring or the situation that existed could have been orchestrated and less lives lost. Indeed earlier readiness in the case of the Yom Kippur War may
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have stopped the attack before it commenced as the Egyptians and Syrians were adept at withdrawing at the 12th hour. In discussing the dissemination of data to the Israeli cabinet Hiechal argues that the analysis supplied was distilled and filtered by people who had perceptions based upon bias.29 Bandman failed to pass onwards estimates by line officers as to the Egyptian preparations for attack, Zeira (as head of AMAN) misinterpreted actions by Russian consular staff in both Egypt and Syria and failed to pass diverging intelligence options to cabinet. This is similar to the arguments before Congress prior to the United States invasion of Iraq justifying the planned invasion, the information was distilled and filtered to create a picture which was guaranteed to create bi-partisan support for the Presidents avowed retribution against Saddam Hussein. A solution to this problem would have been the inclusion of diverging and contestable intelligence analysis in all briefings to the United States Congress and the Israeli Cabinet, as group think can be pervasive amongst institutions, a multitasking of contestable analysis would be appropriate. The CIA model as recounted by Hiechal, involves contributions from analysts inside and outside of the agency.30 Inclusive of diverging opinion these analyses are forwarded for consideration to policy makers, giving a clearer picture of all analysis, supportive or dissenting. This model according to Hiechal is recommended as the multi agency approach allows for independent analysis and dissemination of intelligence assessments.31 The Flood Report recommends a similar direction for the Australian intelligence community, the report recommended that in Australia the Office of National Assessment (ONA) and the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO) should both supply the office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) with independent and contestable analysis of international and internal matters that have a national or strategic importance.32 This system is nothing new, since the intelligence disasters associated with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941 and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 calls have been made to ensure that contestable analysis does take place. Red teaming or devils advocate systems, are known to be used to ensure that the best analysis is made available to decision makers. However as has been seen from the examples of both the Yom Kippur War and the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, the latter being based upon a prevalence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) within the borders of Iraq, errors based upon cognitive bias do occur. In the case of Iraq, the WMD did not exist, or if they had once existed, had been removed from the State before the invasion took place. The need for closure, and one known fact, (the existence of WMD in the case of President George W Bush) becomes retained by those who Tetlock and Berlin describe as hedgehogs will always limit the effectiveness if intelligence analysis as bias enters the intelligence process.33 Even when the best analysis is given, when discarded or ignored, it will result in intelligence blunders. Despite this, it is fortunate that the human element cannot be removed from intelligence analysis, even if the analysis process becomes software based, input must still come for human sources,
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intuition and the ability to make a leap of faith still have places within the intelligence process. It is important that the intelligence community pay cognisance to the failings of humans and ensure that in the future systems for contestability are maintained and are always subject to professional governance.

1 Geller, D. (1999) Israeli Intelligence and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Dept. for Jewish Zionist Education. Accessed online on 24 May 2009 at week11.html p.1. Hughes-Wilson, J. (1999) Military Intelligence Blunders, Robinson, London, p.218. Geller, D. (1999) Israeli Intelligence and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Dept. for Jewish Zionist Education. Accessed online on 24 May 2009 at week11.html p 3. Ibid, p.4. Ibid, p.6. Ibid, p.6. Ibid, p.6. Leonhardt, K.A. (1990) Why Israel was Surprised in October 1973, accessed online on 24 May 2009 at p.1. Presentation of United Nations weapons inspector, Hans Blix to the United Nations Security Council on 7 March 2003 stating that the disarmament of Iraq was continuing and would be completed in months. Accessed online on 20 May 2009 at sprj.irq.un.transcript.nlix/index.html

2 3

4 5 6 7 8 9

10 Kerr, R., Wolfe, T., Donegan, R. and Pappas, A. (2004) Intelligence and Analysis on Iraq: Issues for the Intelligence Community. Accessed online at kerr_report.pdf on 28 May 2009. 11 Ibid, p.3. 12 Ibid, p.4. 13 Ibid, pp.410. 14 Ibid, p.9. 15 Ibid, p.11. 16 Bar-Joseph, U. and Kruglanski, A.W. (2003) Intelligence Failure and Need for Cognitive Closure: On the Psychology of the Yom Kippur Surprise, in Political Psychology, Vol 24, No 1, 2003, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA, p.82. 17 Ibid, pp.8182. 18 Hughes-Wilson, J. (1999) Military Intelligence Blunders, Robinson, London, p.259. Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1


19 Geller, D. (1999) Israeli Intelligence and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Dept. for Jewish Zionist Education. Accessed online on 24 May 2009 at week11.html p.6. 20 Mellers, B.A, Erev, R.I, Fessler, D.M.T, Hemelrijk, C.K, Hertwig, R, laland. K.N, Scherere. K,R, Seeley. T.D. Selten. R. Tetlock, P.E. (2001) Group Report: Effects of Emotions and Social Processes on Bounded Rationality, in Gigerenzer, G and Selten, R. (Eds) Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox, MIT Press Cambridge Mass, p.268. 21 Hughes-Wilson, J. (1999) Military Intelligence Blunders, Robinson, London, p.235. 22 Mellers, B.A, Erev, R.I, Fessler, D.M.T, Hemelrijk, C.K, Hertwig, R, laland. K.N, Scherere. K,R, Seeley. T.D. Selten. R. Tetlock, P.E. (2001) Group Report: Effects of Emotions and Social Processes on Bounded Rationality, in Gigerenzer, G and Selten, R. (Eds) Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox, MIT Press Cambridge Mass, p.272. 23 Delbecq, A. Van de Ven, A. and Gustafson, D. (1975) Group Techniques for Program Planning, Scott Foresman, Glenview. IL. 24 Mellers, B.A, Erev, R.I, Fessler, D.M.T, Hemelrijk, C.K, Hertwig, R, laland. K.N, Scherere. K,R, Seeley. T.D. Selten. R. Tetlock, P.E. (2001) Group Report: Effects of Emotions and Social Processes on Bounded Rationality, in Gigerenzer, G and Selten, R. (Eds) Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox, MIT Press Cambridge Mass. 25 Hughes-Wilson, J. (1999) Military Intelligence Blunders, Robinson, London, p.234. 26 Ibid, p 235. Kumaraswamy, P.R. (1999) Revisiting the Yom Kippur War, Israeli Affairs, Vol 6, p.3. 27 Bar-Joseph, U. and Kruglkanski, A.W. (2003) Intelligence Failure and Need for Cognitive Closure: On the Psychology of the Yom Kippur Surprise, in Political Psychology, Vol 24, No 1, 2003, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA, p.82. 28 Hiechal, G. (1999) Perception, Image Formation and Coping in the Pre-Crisis Stage of the Yom Kippur War, Israeli Affairs, Vol 6, p.210. 29 Ibid, pp.210-216. 30 Ibid, p.212. 31 Ibid, p.213. 32 Flood, P. (2004) Report of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies, Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia. Accessed online on 25 May 2009 at publications/intelligence_inquiry/docs/intelligence_report.pdf pp.8791. 33 Tetlock, P.E. (1999) Expert Political Judgement: How Good Is It? How can we Know? Princeton University Press, Princeton, p.72. Berlin, I. (1998) The Proper Study of mankind: An anthology of Essays, London, Chatto & Windus, p.1.

Bar-Joseph, U. and Kruglkanski, A.W. (2003) Intelligence Failure and Need for Cognitive Closure: On the Psychology of the Yom Kippur Surprise, in Political Psychology, Vol 24, No 1, 2003, Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MA. Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1


Berlin, I. (1998) The Proper Study of mankind: An anthology of Essays, London, Chatto & Windus. Delbecq, A. Van de Ven, A. and Gustafson, D. (1975) Group Techniques for Program Planning, Scott Foresman, Glenview. IL. Flood, P. (2004) Report of the Inquiry into Australian Intelligence Agencies, Canberra, Commonwealth of Australia. Accessed online on 25 May 2009 at inquiry/docs/intelligence_report.pdf Geller, D. (1999) Israeli Intelligence and the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Dept. for Jewish Zionist Education accessed online on 24 May 2009 at Hiechal, G. (1999) Perception, Image Formation and Coping in the Pre-Crisis Stage of the Yom Kippur War, Israeli Affairs, Vol 6, pp 195-221. Hughes-Wilson, J. (1999) Military Intelligence Blunders, Robinson, London. Kahana, E. (2002) Early Warning Verses Concept: The Case of the Yom Kippur War 1973, Intelligence and National Security, Vol 17, No 2, pp 81-104. Kerr, R., Wolfe, T., Donegan, R. and Pappas, A. (2004) Intelligence and Analysis on Iraq: Issues for the Intelligence Community, accessed online at news/20051013/kerr_report.pdf on 28 May 2009. Kumaraswamy, P.R. (1999) Revisiting the Yom Kippur War, Israeli Affairs, Vol 6, pp 1-11. Kruglanski, A.W. and Webster, D.M. (1996) Motivated Closing of the Mind: Seizing and Freezing. Psychological Review, Vol 103, pp 236-283. Leonhardt, K.A. (1990) Why Israel was Surprised in October 1973, accessed online on 24 May 2009 at Mellers, B.A, Erev, R.I, Fessler, D.M.T, Hemelrijk, C.K, Hertwig, R, laland. K.N, Scherere. K,R, Seeley. T.D. Selten. R. Tetlock, P.E. (2001) Group Report: Effects of Emotions and Social Processes on Bounded Rationality, in Gigerenzer, G and Selten, R. (eds) Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox, MIT Press Cambridge Mass. Shlaim, A. (1976) Failures in National Intelligence Estimates: The Case of the Yom Kippur War, World Politics, Vol 28.3, pp 348-380. Tetlock, P.E. (1999) Expert Political Judgement: How Good Is It? How can we Know? Princeton University Press, Princeton.

Alan Watson is currently in his third year of PhD research at Macquarie University. His research examines the potential for biological weapons use by terrorist groups. ooOoo
Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

Alan Watson


Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1


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Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1


Journal of the AIPIO | 2010 | Volume 18, Number 1

The AIPIO JournalInstructions to Authors

Aims and Scope. The AIPIO Journal is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to the advancement of the discipline of intelligence studies. The Journal aims to be a medium for professionals and scholars to exchange views on contemporary issues in Australian and international intelligence practice. The Editorial Committee welcomes contributions related to all aspects of intelligence theory and practice and/ or studies in the application of intelligence in related disciplines (e.g. intelligence and terrorism or intelligence and peacekeeping). The Journal seeks to encourage a broad cross fertilisation of ideas from all AIPIO members and non members working in the intelligence community. Research and thematic pieces relating to different practice contexts such as national security, law enforcement and business intelligence are welcome. Synopses of professional/workplace projects backed by appropriate references, conference papers and research contributions from University students and post-graduates in the field of intelligence are also welcome. The Journal is an independent, non-partisan forum. It seeks to disseminate the diverse findings of its contributing authors and does not advocate positions of its own. All contributions should be submitted electronically to the Managing Editors <>. Manuscript Preparation. Submitted text must be clear and concise. Contributions which require heavy editing (more than 10 spelling and or grammatical errors) will be sent back to the author for further work. Manuscripts are accepted on the basis that they have not been accepted elsewhere for publication. All accepted manuscripts become the property of the Journal. Manuscripts, including title page, abstracts and graphs should be typewritten, double spaced and single sided. All margins should be at least one inch and all pages should be numbered consecutively. Manuscripts should be submitted in Microsoft Word format. Titles and word length. Titles must be as brief and clear as possible (5 to 12 words). Manuscripts should be between 4000 to 7000 words. We are also looking for shorter research reports and book reviews and they should be between 2500 to 3000 words. A manuscript should also include on a separate page an abstract of not more than 150 words. Affiliation. Authors should include a title page which lists the full names of all authors, academic and /or other professional affiliations, and the complete mailing address, including email for correspondence. A short biography (maximum three to four lines) for inclusion at beginning of the article is also required. Please include the author(s)s name ONLY on the title page and not the remaining pages of the manuscript. References. This Journal uses footnoting style and all references should also be numbered consecutively at the end of the paper. Please use footnoting rather than Harvard notation. A. Journal Citations: 1. Roger Z. George, Fixing the Problem of Analytical Mind-Sets: Alternative Analysis, International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence, Vol. 17 (2004), pp. 385-404. B. Book Citations: 2. F Dvornik, Origins of Intelligence Services (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1974). Figures and Tables. All figures should be numbered consecutively, have descriptive captions and be referred to in the text. Figures and tables should also be fully referenced. Figures such as photographs should be digital and be sent separately to the text with an indication in the text margin where each figure should go. Tables should be kept to a minimum and contain only essential data. Permissions and Clearances. Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce any copyrighted material from other sources used in their manuscript. Manuscripts submitted for publication must not contain any classified material and the submission of an article for publication is taken by the Editorial Board that the author has received any necessary clearances from his/her employer for their work to be published in the Journal. Copyright. It is a condition of publication that authors assign copyright or license the publication rights in their articles, including abstracts to the AIPIO Journal. This enables the publisher to assure maximum dissemination of the authors work. Authors will be sent a form certifying their agreement to transfer copyright. Authors may of course use the article elsewhere after publication without prior permission from the AIPIO Journal provided that acknowledgement is given to the Journal as the original source of publication and that the AIPIO Journal Managing Editors are notified so that our records show that its use is properly authorised.