CIA Recruits: "U.S. efforts to infiltrate Al Qaeda begin with captured compatriots
Behind the barbed wire, gun turrets and searchlights of the Guantanamo concentration camp, the CIA is running a secret program to recruit turncoats to infiltrate al Qaeda and other organizations to which they formerly belonged.
The secrecy surrounding Guantanamo has been an essential ingredient in permitting CIA agent handlers to assess detainees over a lengthy period of time to determine if they are vulnerable to inducements and emotionally capable of returning to the world of terrorism as secret tools of the U.S. intelligence community. The fact that the identities of the detainees have been classified and they have not been permitted legal representation has aided those in the CIA who desperately need agents to blend into the Islamic world.
The lack of terrorist agents within the U.S. intelligence apparatus in the 1990s ensured that al Qaeda and similar groupings were able to operate with virtual impunity, and to plan operations without the risk that any of their cells had been penetrated by informers."
Prior to Sept. 11, the CIA had been forced to rely mainly on electronic means to monitor terrorists. That strategy was flawed because satellites and telephone intercepts alone were an insufficient means of assessing the potential and intentions of the enemy. In fact, little was known about al Qaeda’s plans because terrorists had become familiar with the techniques of electronic intelligence gathering. The events of Sept. 11 proved that HUMINT—human intelligence—is far more effective in learning about planned terrorist operations.
The CIA’s lack of HUMINT was partly due to a belief within the U.S. political and judicial apparatus that the CIA had, in the past, run rogue operatives, with terrible consequences. In some respects, that was true and for several decades there had been little oversight of the agency’s handling of agents, particularly those recruited from the criminal world or from organizations with a dubious past.
However, the attacks of Sept. 11 exposed a serious weakness, namely the CIA’s lack of human “assets” within the world of terrorism.
Recruiting terrorists is a difficult and risky process, if it is conducted in the Middle East or Afghanistan. However, when the CIA has hundreds of individuals in one place—Guantanamo— the process is made easier.
For example, there is time to individually process detainees, to learn their family histories, monitor their reactions to confinement, determine their social, spiritual and sexual weaknesses and build detailed psychological profiles on those who could prove useful if they were properly trained and released back into their own communities.
For the past year, the CIA has been working on recruiting among those held at Guantanamo with the intention of running them as agents. The objective has been to train them, place them under the control of agent “handlers” and release them back into Afghanistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan. The hope is that they will, over time, join terrorist ranks as agents of the CIA. In that way, the CIA will have a constant flow of information from within the world of terror.
The CIA has found, through its terrorist recruitment program, that lesser figures with a low terrorist profile are ideal for release because they will more successfully blend back into their own communities—men who have not been missed in the turmoil of the war in Afghanistan.
Their CIA handlers have briefed them to return to a normal life in their respective communities and then to slowly integrate once again into terrorist ranks. Some will be sleeper agents, meaning they will not be activated as agents until their handlers require them to join a terrorist organization.