Insights

Quality of Evidence

By Pumayyaton Inspired by Panjandrum’s nice piece on circular reporting I am reminded of two excellent phrases used by former colleagues of mine.  Both of these guys were  intelligence professionals and their sage words have stayed with me for years.  Indeed they have become touchstones which I hold dear to this day. I commend them…

A STAB in the back?

An interesting (if predictable) debate has erupted in some corners of the media and internet, in a somewhat belated response to the UK government’s plans to decrease the manpower of the regular Army from over 100 000 to around 80 000 personnel by 2020. In itself this is enough to cause considerable wailing and gnashing…

Intelligence 101: Circular Reporting

‘Intelligence 101’ is (or is hopefully going to be) an ad-hoc series of articles on the fundamentals of the analyst’s trade. Feel free to suggest a topic. Corroboration is important in the intelligence world for obvious reasons. ‘A man told me that the village headman keeps 200kg of explosive under his cow shed’ is a…

Running around the desert on a dark night – Continuing thoughts on the Arab revolutions

Much has been said about the motivations and social environments in which the Arab Spring revolutions have occurred, and continue to evolve.  I don’t profess to have new insights but I do believe we should continue to study it as they evolve in different countries. I’ve been reading Marwan Bishara’s excellent book, just released, “The…

Iranian Plotting in Azerbaijan (without Hezbollah?)

Guest post from “Analyst 404” Early reports of Hezbollah involvement in a thwarted plot to attack Jewish and Israeli targets in Azerbaijan appear to have been over stated.  Three men, described as a Hezbollah cell, were detained by the Azeri authorities on 19 January 2012.  The men were allegedly planning attacks on two local rabbis,…

New Media

Last Sunday evening I found myself in a dreary hotel with very little to do. Having two small children I don’t often get the chance to read a newspaper, so the idea of whiling away a couple of hours in the bar with The Sunday Times and a pint was very appealing. The Sunday Times,…

Syria — So Many Proxies

I rarely stray into the geo-political, but here goes.  The arrest of a supposed Saudi intelligence officer allegedly leading an insurgent group in  Syria demonstrates again that the Syrian unrest is quite a bit more complex than some of the other Arab Spring revolutions. There is an underlying current of Shia-Sunni conflict within Syria and…

The evolution of online Jihad

There’s an excellent Guardian article here about the evolution of online jihad, which I largely agree with.  One of the interesting issues relates, as I understand it, to the fact that participation in “on line” jihad, suffices in religious terms. So even what might be ineffectual posting and physically passive contributions get a a tick…

Cultural nuances?

I’ve been digging around a bit on Iran recently, and stumbled across this picture on the Khabar site.                           It appears to show an Iranian Cleric giving someone a very Anglo-Saxon kind of non-verbal greeting. But I suspect that there’s a cultural nuance there that I might…

Not Getting It

In ‘The Week’ magazine (21 Jan 2012) Jeremy O’Grady has a bit of a rant in the editorial*. His beef seems to be that, after losing his child (temporarily) and calling the police, they arrived and were quite keen to take down his particulars… ‘…two officers tramped across the park to take down every detail…