Strategic Intelligence Masters 2
Summary: AID| All Glory is Fleeting: Sigint and the Fight Against International Terrorism
Matthew Aid’s paper regarding the use of signal intelligence (hereafter abbreviated as ‘sigint’) traces the history of sigint and its usage starting in the early 1990s. He describes the usage of sigint by many different intelligence organizations, for instance, the Israeli interceptions in pursuit of Palestinian terrorist organizations. Aid also presents the problems faced by sigint when it comes to the changing face of international terrorism, especially with regard to the NSA and Al-Qaeda. The unorthodox nature of Al-Qaeda’s organization, according to Aid, resulted from its nontraditional hierarchy and genuinely transnational nature, not relying on state sponsors that would tie it to any country. Unconventional financing and loose confederation instead of strict hierarchical organization made it difficult to utilize sigint against them. The secretive nature of the group made human intelligence (‘humint’) in the forms of infiltration and covert operations equally difficult.
Ultimately, Aid proposes that a combination of many factors, including lack of funding, lack of linguistic personnel, overreliance on high tech methods of mass sigint collection, and problems with dissemination and inter-agency cooperation led to a failure of intelligence when it came to 9/11. He advocates more interaction between sigint and humint agencies and services, as well as refined systems to process the increasing amounts of sigint intercepts. In light of the transnational nature of terrorism, Aid suggests that international cooperation, particularly outside of the UK/USA “club”, can bring increased specialization and skills to the pool when it comes to taking action.