Sunday, January 02, 2005

'Humint' Begins at Home

The Wall Street Journal has a very interesting editorial by Dame Stella Rimington, a former head of Britain's MI5.

'Humint' Begins at Home (free registration required):

My own experience is that effective counter-terrorism frequently begins closer to home and may appear a lot more mundane...

My impression is that though al Qaeda from its HQ wherever that may be gives general support and sponsorship to terrorism conducted in its name in the West, individual operations are planned and prepared much closer to where they are carried out.

So we are more likely to get hold of the end of a planned terrorist attack if we have our ear to the ground in the right places and that means human sources of information in, not the caves of Afghanistan but the Islamic bookshop in downtown New York, the extremist mosque in North London or perhaps the college in Paris.

I Googled around a little, but didn't find much other than a some author and lecture circuit biographies. There are a few interviews and news stories here, here, here and here. It's hard to be conclusive (and fair), but she seems to have a rather jaded view of the war on terror.

The WSJ editorial rings true, though. Give it a read.