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Spy Lingo

A Compendium Of Terms Used In The Intelligence Trade

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The word tradecraft itself, although once used to describe the corpus of knowledge one must possess to practice some given trade, has now become the term mostly used to describe the tricks of the spy's trade, even making archaic the more descriptive term “spycraft”.

What you are learning right now from SpyLingo are real-world tradecraft terms used by spies belonging mainly to the Five Eyes, an alliance of intelligence agencies between the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. You may also find them in countries where English is a second or third language, as in India. The Cold War could be to blame for this, as it exposed the purposefully dark world of espionage to the zeitgeist through spy fiction; most notably that of John le Carré


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ABWEHR - German military intelligence organization from 1866 to 1944.

ACCESS AGENT - A talent spotter, performs reconnaissance for recruiters. An asset in place inside an organization that can provide personal and behavioral information on people of interest.

ACORN - Slang for someone who is performing a function within intelligence.

ACTION DIRECTE - This was an underground group in France.

ACTIVE MEASURES - (активные мероприятия) A term used by Russian intelligence services, from the Cheka to FSB, for political warfare that aims to influence the course of world events by any means, from propaganda to assassination. Also intelligence collection and assessment. Said to have succeeded in sowing dissent in many countries, and also to have had Trump elected in the USA.

ADFGVX CIPHER - Introduced by the Germans in World War I, it is based on an ancient idea of associating letters with positions on a grid.

AGENT / ASSET - A person obtaining intelligence for an intelligence service, under control of a CASE officer.

AGENT-IN-PLACE - A government employee who is influenced to cooperate with a foreign country to change national policy, A deepcover agent with infuence among the members of a target group / government. Instead of defecting, the agent is now working for two employers instead of one.

AGENT-OF-INFLUENCE - A person who works within the government or media of a target

AGENT PROVOCATEUR - For example a cop posing as member of a subversive group and enticing riots etc.

AIR AMERICA - This was a CIA front company.

AIS - Was Argentina's intelligence agency.

AIVD - The secret service of the Netherlands. Formerly called BVD.

ALLIANCE BASE - Alliance Base is the cover name for a secret Western Counterterrorist Intelligence Center (CTIC) that was allegedly established in 2002 in Paris. According to a Washington Post article, Alliance Base is funded by the CIA and its French equivalent, the DGSE. It allegedly hosts officers from Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and the United States and is used for intelligence exchange and operational planning.

ALPHA Group, The - Official name is Directorate "A" of the FSB Special Purpose Center that acts under the direct control and sanction of Russia's top political leadership. Available for extended police duties, for paramilitary operations, and for covert operations, both domestically and internationally.

AL AMN AL-KHAS - Iraq's security service.

AMAN - Israel's central military intelligence agency. See Military Intelligence Directorate.

AMERIKA / AMERIKKKA - Underground metaphor for a fascist USA reminiscent of Nazi Germany.


ANALYSIS / SPY ANALYSIS - Drawing conclusions about raw information by assessing its significance and by collating it with other information.


ASALA - Underground group in Armenia.

A.S.I.O. - Australian Security Intelligence Organization. Its role is analogous to that of MI5 in Britain or the FBI in the USA.

A.S.I.S. - Australian Secret Intelligence Service, a department of A.S.I.O.

ASSASSINATION - Assassination is a sudden, usually unexpected act of murder committed for impersonal reasons, typically with a political or military leader as its target.

ASSAULTER - A member of an assault team responsible for making a forced entry.

AUM SHRINKYO - Underground group in Japan with expertise in germ and chemical warfare.

AUSTRALIAN SIGNALS DIRECTORATE - The Australian government agency responsible for foreign signals intelligence, support to military operations, cyber warfare, and information security. See DSD.

A.V.B. - Hungarian security service, the Allami Vedelmi Batosag..




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BABYSITTER - Bodyguard.

BACKSTOP - An arrangement between two persons for the express purpose of substantiating a cover story or alibi.

BAG JOB - Surreptitious entry, break and enter.

BAGMAN - An agent who pays spies and bribes authorities.

BANG AND BURN - Demolition and sabotage operations.

BAKER, Josephine - Allied spy during WWII.

BAKIN - Former name of Indonesia's security service. Now called Indonesian State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

BATFE - US security service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, also known as the ATF or ATFE.

BERIA, Lavrentiy - Spy

BETTY BUREAU - FBI slang for a female support person who has worked for the FBI her entire career.

BfV - Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (und Terrorismusbekämpfung). Operates in concert with the LfV (Landesämter für Verfassungsschutz) at the state level.


BIRDWATCHER - A spy in British intelligence slang.

BLACK BAG JOB - Secret entry into a home or office to steal or copy materials.

BLACK FLAGGED - An agent or intelligence officer who is to be interrogated and summarily shot if apprehended.

BLACK OPERATION / FALSE FLAG - Covert operation that is not attributable to the organization performing them and involves a significant degree of deception.

BLACK PROPAGANDA - A disinformation method that is deniable by (and not traceable to) its source, mostly a smear campaign usually consisting of character assassination.

BLAKE, George - Spy

BLIND DATE - The first meeting with an unknown person.

BLOWBACK - A deception planted abroad by an intelligence agency to mislead another country that returns to the originating nation with bad consequences.

BLOWFISH - A mathematical algorithm for computer encryption of text that purportedly can only be cracked by brute force if the pass-phrase is unknown.

BLOWN / BURNED - When a case officer or agent is compromised by discovery of their true identity, or the discovery of a clandestine activity's real purpose.

BLUE-ON-BLUE - friendly fire, inadvertent hostile engagement between allies

BLUNT, Antony - Spy

BND - Germany's federal intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst. It is the largest of its kind in the world.

BỘ CÔNG AN - Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security.

BOMBA - In WWII, a Polish electro-magnetic device created to help decipher Enigma cipher machine settings; early precursor to the modern computer.

BONA FIDES - Proof of a person's claimed identity.

BOX - The MI5, British slang for this internal security service.

BRAINWASHING - Refers to the concept that the human mind can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques.

BREVITY CODES - A system of code-words used by members of a surveillance team.

BRICK AGENT - An FBI agent who works inside a field office. Also see STREET AGENT.

BRIDE AGENT - An agent who acts as a courier from a case officer to an agent in a denied area.

BRUSH CONTACT / BRUSH PASS - A clandestine, momentary contact between two agents who are passing information, documents, or equipment.

BRIDGE AGENT - An agent who acts as a courier from a case officer to an agent in a denied area.

BRUTE FORCE ATTACK - A cryptanalytic computer attack that can, in theory, be used to attempt to decrypt any encrypted data, either through finding the password or an exhaustive key search. Information-theoretically secure cryptosystem, such as ONE TIME PADS can foil a BRUTE FORCE ATTACK.

BSS - Belgium's security service.

BUCAR - BUreau CAR. An FBI car.

BURN NOTICE - Official interagency notice stating that a given source or asset has been deemed unreliable, and that all info provided by such should be "burned".

BURNED / BLOWN - When a case officer or agent is compromised by discovery of their true identity, or the discovery of a clandestine activity's real purpose.

BURST TRANSMISSION - Electronically condensed and possibly encoded secret messages that sound just like ordinary static.

BUST-OUT - A leak of electronic communications from a secure enclosure before they are encrypted by the code machine.




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C3I / C4I - Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence - Command and Control refers to the ability of the military commander to direct and coordinate his forces. Communications are required to enable this coordination. Intelligence is the knowledge relevant to the coordination of forces. Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance are methods of obtaining intelligence. Tends to be known as C4I when computers are added to the mix.

CALL-UP - A police term meaning a situation where a SWAT team has deployed.


CAMBRIDGE FIVE / CAMBRIDGE FOUR / CAMBRIDGE SPY RING - UK spy ring that passed information to the Soviets during World War II until the early 1950s. Four members of the ring were originally identified: Kim Philby (cryptonym: Stanley), Donald Duart Maclean (cryptonym: Homer), Guy Burgess (cryptonym: Hicks) and Anthony Blunt (cryptonyms: Tony, Johnson). The number of spies increased to five upon further investigation with the discovery of John Cairncross (cryptonym: Liszt) and some other, lesser players.

CAM-CAR - A vehicle equipped with a concealed camera used for clandestine casing and surveillance operations.

CAMP SWAMPY - CIA's secret domestic training base (also known as "The Farm"

CAMP X - Canada's WWII secret domestic training base associated with the MI6.

CANARY TRAP - A canary trap is a method for exposing an information leak, that involves giving different versions of sensitive information to each of a group of suspects and seeing which version gets leaked.

CANNON - A thief who steals back the inducement offered by the spies to an informant, defector or turncoat. Probably borrowed from sports, as in a billiard shot that strike two balls with the cue ball.

CARABINIERI - Italy's federal anti-terrorist police.

CARNIVORE - computer program designed by the FBI to collect electronic communications from a specific user targeted in an investigation.

CASE OFFICER - staff officer of an intelligence agency, also called an OPERATIONS OFFICER, AGENT HANDLER or CONTROLLER.

CASUALS - Casual observers to a surveillance exercise; nonparticipants visible in the area.

CBI - India's security service.

CENTER - Moscow headquarters of the KGB.

CELLAR (THE) - The room in the cellar of Lubyanka Prison where Russian intelligence executed traitors prior to WWII. Underground corridors are rumored to have connected the Cellar to an industrial sized meat grinder connected to the Moscow sewers to get rid of the bodies.

CHAMBERS, Whittaker - Spy

CHASE CAR - Security detail or bodyguard vehicle that follows the subject.

CHEATING - Command of the target from in front of the target during floating box surveillance as opposed to static surveillance. May be performed by pavement artists or wheel artists. See also COMMAND OF THE TARGET.

CHEKA - Russian secret police founded in 1917 by the Bolshevik party, forerunner of the KGB. The Cheka's torture methods were beyond the pale.

CHENG PAO K'O - (Political Security Section) China's intelligence agency.

CHICKEN FEED - Low grade information offered to a double agent, used to establish him as someone with access to intelligence.

CHIEF OF STATION / STATION CHIEF - The officer in charge at a CIA station, usually in a foreign capital

CHILDS, Julia - WWII British intelligence operative who later became a well-known chef.

CHILDS, Morris (Moishe Chilovsky) - Spy

CHOKEPOINT - A narrow passage-such as a bridge, tunnel, or Metro station-used as a surveillance or counter-surveillance tool for channeling the opposing force or monitoring their passage

CHOWKIDAR - (Urdu) A gatekeeper commonly used in the Asian Subcontinent for guarding the entrances to walled compounds.


CIA - A U.S. intelligence agency

CID - The Clandestine Imaging Division of the Office of Technical Service of the CIA. Responsible for providing technical support to clandestine agent operations in the form of photography, secret writing, and video surveillance.

CIPHER / CODE - A system, usually an algorithm, for disguising a message by replacing its letters with other letters or numbers or by shuffling them.

CIRCULAR REPORTING - A situation in which information appears to be corroborated by multiple sources, but in reality comes from only one source.

CIRCUMSTANTIAL INFERENCE - In counterintelligence, refers to a clue that points to the possibility that a subject may wittingly be a tool of the opposition.

CLANDESTINE OPERATION - Actions that are meant to be undetected.

CLANDESTINE SERVICE - The operational arm of the CIA responsible for classic espionage operations, usually with human assets. Also known as the Directorate of Operations (DO) and formerly the Directorate of Plans (DP).

CLASSIFIED INFORMATION - An intelligence operation designed to remain secret.

CLOAK - A sensitive disguise and deception illusionary technique first deployed by the CIA in Moscow during the mid-1970s.

CLEAN - Unknown to enemy intelligence

CNT - Crisis Negotiation Team. Used by police in situations involving hostage-takers or barricaded suspects. Their true role is not to negotiate, but rather to obtain intelligence to facilitate an assault by the SWAT team, and to distract the suspect to divert his attention from the coming assault.

COBBLER - Specialist who creates false passports, visas, diplomas and other documents.

CODEBOOK - A list of plain language words opposite their codeword or code number.

COHEN, Morris (two-guns) - Spy

COLOSSUS - An electronic device that helped solve German cryptograms; the world’s first electronic computer.

COMINT - COMmunications INTelligence, usually gathered by technical interception and code breaking, but also by use of human agents and surreptitious entry.

COMMANDO - A civilian, military, or paramilitary combat group using irregular tactics. Commando can refer to an individual, a cell, a squad, or the organization as a whole.

COMMAND OF THE TARGET - Active visual observation of the subject of the surveillance operation. Used during pedestrian and vehicle surveillance.

COMMO, COMMUNICATIONS - The various forms of secure electronic and non-electronic communications used in clandestine operations.

COMMO PLAN - The various secret communications methods employed with a particular agent (ex: Dead Drop, Numbers stations, etc.)

COMMIT - A surveillance operative performing the commit function is watching a location to determine the direction that the target takes (or "commits" to)

COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY ESTABLISHMENT - (CST) This is the Government of Canada's national cryptologic agency. Responsible for foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) and protecting Canadian government electronic information and communication networks. See CSE.

COMPARTMENTALIZATION (vertical, lateral, double) - Parceling of information to limit access to information only on a "need to know" basis. The various ways that information is held to only those who "have-a-need-to-know" in an organization. Vertical denies information up or down the chain of command, and lateral denies information from peer groups. Double is spoofing the original group who held the information into believing the operation has ended when it has simply moved to a new compartment

COMPROMISED - When an operation, asset, or agent is uncovered and cannot remain secret.

COMPUTER FORENSICS - Used in espionage to retrieve intelligence from stolen laptops or PCs.

CONCEALMENT DEVICE - Any one of a variety of innocuous devices used to secretly store and transport materials relating to an operation.

CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT (CI) - Human resource that provides information, the same as an informant, but whose identity should always remain secret. (see INFORMANT)

CONRAD, Clyde Lee - Spy

CONSUMER - Person or an organization on the receiving end of intelligence obtained by spies. Also see PRODUCT.

CONTROLLED AGENTS - People who are fully aware of what they are doing and are following the directions of their CIA handler.

CONTROLLER - Officer in charge of agents (aka handler).

COOKED INTELLIGENCE - Distorted intelligence passed on to a double agent, containing some truth.

COPLON, Judith - Spy

COUNTER-ESPIONAGE - Spying directed against an enemy's spy system, such as by recruiting agents in foreign intelligence organs.

COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE - The activity of preventing the enemy from obtaining secret information, including but not limited to spy-catching.

COURIER - One who delivers documents, money, etc.

COUSINS - Slang for CIA operatives.

COVER - Persona, profession, purpose, activity, fictitious image maintained by an undercover operative. Must be consistent with the agent's background and presence in the target area.

COVER STOP - A stop made while under surveillance that provides an ostensibly innocent reason for a trip.

COVERT ACTION AGENT - A spy who works to reorient an entire nation's politics in favor of his country.

COVERT ACTION OPERATION - An operation designed to affect foreign affairs; may be lethal or non-lethal.

COVERT CELL / CLANDESTINE CELL - A method for organizing a group of people to more effectively resist penetration by an opposing organization. Each people in the cell know the identities of only the other people in their cell.

COVERT OPERATION - Those actions for which the government will deny knowledge or responsibility.

CRABB, Lionel (Buster) - Spy

CRYPTOLOGY - The science of secret writing in all its forms using CRYPTONYMS and CODEWORDS.

CRYPTONYM - Code name; crypt or crypto for short, are always capitalized (ex: FUNFNAGEL). GT and CK, both components of a CIA Cold War cryptonym, are prefixes to code names used to identify the nature of the clandestine source. In this case, GT Funfnagel would have referred to a Soviet agent while CK Funfnagel, to an east East European agent.

CS GAS - A form of tear gas scientifically known as the compound 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (also called o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, used by police, SWAT teams, and the military.

CSE - Canada's signal intelligence agency - Communications Security Establishment.

CSIS - Canadian Security and Intelligence Service - Canada's spy agency.

CT - Counter Terrorism.

CULPER SPY RING (the) - Intelligence gathering operation of General George Washington.

CUT-OUT - A cut-out is a mutually trusted intermediary, method or channel of communication that facilitates the exchange of information. One step in security beyond a COVERT CELL, the cut-out knows only the provenance and destination of what he / she / it is conveying.




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DAGGER - Starting in the 1970s, the CIA is rumored to use a quick disguise kit called the “Dagger”, the contents of which reportedly fit into a small paper bag and is rumored to completely transform a person in less than 5 minutes, to the point you could never recognize them. Even today, its exact contents are classified secret.

DAM - France's military intelligence agency.

DANGLE - A person sent by the intelligence agency of his or her own country who approaches an opposite intelligence agency in the hope of being recruited as a spy in order to allow a double agent operation, for the purpose of intelligence collection or disinformation.

DARPA - Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (USA).

DATA RECOVERY - Euphemism for the back door built into all US encrypting programs.

DCI - The Director of Central Intelligence.

DCSS - Denmark's security service.

DDIS - Denmark's intelligence agency.

DDO - The Deputy Director of Operations of the CIA, and head of all HUMINT operations; formerly the DDP.

DDP - The Deputy Director of Plans (see DDO).

DEAD DROP / DEAD-LETTER BOX - A secret location where materials can be left for another party to retrieve.

DEAD MAN'S SWITCH - A switch that automatically brakes a subway train if the operator's hand relinquishes control of said switch, as in the case of his sudden death. In military operations, it can also launch a nuclear strike if one launch site stops communicating with all the others, and thus is presumed to have been bombed.

DEAD TELEPHONE - A signal or code passed with the telephone without speaking.

DECOY - Subterfuge meant to distracts adversary's attention.

DEEP-COVER AGENT - Agent under permanent cover.

DEFECTOR - A person who has renounced his/her country of citizenship

DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE HEADQUARTERS - A signals intelligence agency of the Japanese government.

DÉPARTEMENT DE SURVEILLANCE ET DE SÉCURITÉ (DSS) - Central hub of Algerian security services.

DEZINFORMATSIYA (Disinformation) - The Soviet and Russian term for Disinformation operations: operations designed to pass false information to the enemy (ex: RT, Sputnik in Russia, and Breitbart, Infowars, Limbaugh and Fox News opinion shows in the US).

DGI - Cuba's intelligence agency.

DGSE - France's intelligence agency.

DHS - Department of Homeland Security - USA agency.

DIA - A US intelligence agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency. This initialism is also used in the same way by Canada, India, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Korea, and with a different meaning by the Italians as the Direzione Investigativa Antimafia, a law-enforcement agency.

DICKINSON, Velvalee - Spy

DIRECTOR - The cable address of CIA Headquarters.

DIRTECH - The headquarters cable address of the Office of Technical Service.

DIRTY TRICKS - Covert sabotage carried out by a security service or intelligence agency, ranging from pranks to assassination.

DISCARD - An agent whom a service will permit to be detected and arrested so as to protect more valuable assets.

DIVERSION - Distracts adversary's attention. Could be a DECOY.

DLB - Acronym for dead-letter box. Also see DEAD DROP / DEAD-LETTER BOX.

DO / DODO - The Directorate of Operations of the CIA and the Directorate of Operations Duty Office, where all espionage communications worldwide are managed from CIA Headquarters.

DOPE BOOK - A notebook kept with a sniper rifle for the purposes of recording the atmospheric conditions, range, lighting, and resulting hit or miss of every shot fired.

DOPPELGANGER - A look-a-like. See also LOOK-A- LIKE

DOUBLE AGENT - A spy who pretends to be working against one country but who is in fact working for that country’s opponent; often a conduit for Disinformation.

DRUMMOND, Nelson - Spy

DRY CLEAN - Actions agents undertake to determine if they are under surveillance.

DRY CLEANING - Active counter surveillance and anti- surveillance against pavement artists and wheel artists.

DREYFUS AFFAIR (THE) - This episode became a prime example of miscarriage of justice, collusion, evidence fabrication and antisemitism. Alfred Dreyfus was falsely convicted of passing secrets to the enemy. Evidence was found that proved him innocent, but the army suppressed it. He spent five years in the Bagne de Cayenne, also known as Devil's Island, an equally brutal and dehumanizing version of Vietnam's Hanoi Hilton which, incidentally, was also established by the French. This affair will be the subject of a future article.

DREYFUS, Alfred - Spy (The Dreyfus Affair)

DS - Bulgaria's security service, the Drzaven Sigurmost.

DSD - Australia's signal intelligence agency, Defence Signals Directorate.

DST - France's security service.

DUBOK - Russian term for a dead- letter box. Also see DEAD DROP.

DUKES, Paul - Spy

DUQUESNE SPY RING (THE) - The largest espionage operation case in the history of the United States that ended in 33 convictions. The FBI uncovered this NAZI spy ring operating within the United States during World War II and was run by Frederick Joubert Duquesne, a South African who became a naturalized American citizen in December 1913. The ring was established in order to gather information that could be used in the event the United States entered the war. It was assigned to find holes in American military forces and preparedness before the United States entered the war and to find ways to destabilize the country and its morale.


DZERZHINSKY SQUARE - Historic site in Moscow of Lubyanka Prison, longtime headquarters of the Soviet security organs, including Cheka, NKVD, and KGB and now the FSB, successor of the KGB. Underground corridors are rumored to have led from the Cellar to an industrial sized meat grinder connected to the Moscow sewers to get rid of the bodies. A 15-ton iron monument of Dzerzhinsky was moved to the Fallen Monument Park, replaced by a memorial to the victims of the Gulag. (See CELLAR)




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E&E - Evade & Escape.

EARS ONLY - Material too secret to commit to writing.

EEI - Essential Elements of Information; an outline to be used for collecting intelligence on a particular topic.

ELINT - ELectronic INTelligence; derived from the interception of radiation sources such as radars.

ELLIPTICAL CONVERSATION - Says one thing but means another.

EMERALD CITY (The) - The code name the Special Surveillance Team used for the CIA Headquarters Building during their exercises.

ENIGMA - A cipher machine used by the Germans to encode messages during WWII.

ESCORT / ESCORT OFFICER - The operations officer assigned to lead a defector along an escape route.

ESPIONAGE - Clandestine collection of intelligence by a non-domestic intelligence agency.

ESS - Acronym for Environmentally Stable Strategy, a concept used in strategic game-theory.

ETA - An underground group in Spain.

EVOC - An acronym for Emergency Vehicle Operation Course, taught at the FBI academy in Quantico.

EXCOM - The Executive Committee of the CIA, made up of the deputy directors and chaired by the executive director.

EXDIR - EXecutive DIRector.

EXECUTIVE ACTION – Assassination.

EXFILTRATION OPERATION - A clandestine rescue operation designed to bring a defector, refugee, or an operative and his or her family out of harm's way.

EXPATS - Citizens of one country who live in another.

EYE (The) - The person on the surveillance team who has the target under visual observation at any given moment.

EYES ONLY - Documents that are intended for the eyes of one specific person only.




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FALN - An underground group in Puerto Rico.

FALSE FLAG RECRUITMENT - Impersonation by a spy while recruiting an informant, defector, agent, etc.

FBI (The) - Federal Bureau of Investigation. U.S. domestic counterintelligence service and federal law enforcement agency.

FDS - One of Mexico's security services.

FEDERAL INTELLIGENCE SERVICE - The Bundesnachrichtendienst is the foreign intelligence agency of Germany, directly subordinated to the Chancellor's Office. See BND.

FERRETS - Technicians who do a fair bit of ferreting: locating and removing hidden microphones and cameras.

FIBONACCI SYSTEM - A system of non-carrying addition used for one-time pad codes. For example, (Fib) 999 + 222 = 111. See ONE-TIME PAD.

FILLING - The act of inserting material in a dead drop.

FILM LOOP - A loop of film used to project or record a sequence of images on a continuous basis.

FINESSE - Sensitive disguises developed by the CIA using a Hollywood consultant and contractors.

FIRST CHIEF DIRECTORATE (First CD) - The foreign intelligence arm of the KGB, now known as the SVR.

FISA - Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (U.S.).

FISU - Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine (Sluzhba zovnishn’oyi rozvidky Ukrayiny).

FIVE EYES (The) - (often abbreviated as FVEY) An alliance of intelligence agencies between the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

FLAPS AND SEALS - The tradecraft involved when making surreptitious openings and closings of envelopes, seals, and secure pouches.

FLASH - The highest precedence for CIA cable communications.

FLIP - A U Turn made by the target during a vehicle surveillance operation.

FLIR - Forward-Looking InfraRed device.

FLOATER - A person used one time, occasionally, or even unknowingly for an intelligence operation.

FLOATING BOX - A method of surveillance where a team of operators establishes a containment box around the target wherever he/she goes.

FMLN - Frente Farabundo Marti para Liberacion Nacional, an underground group in El Salvador.

FOLLOW - A surveillance team is executing a follow when they are shadowing a moving target. See also FLOATING BOX. A follow begins when the target exits the stakeout box and a surveillance operative attains command of the target. See also COMMAND OF THE TARGET.

FOOTFALL DETECTOR - Vibration sensor designed to detect walking humans.

FOOTS (FEET) - Members of a surveillance team who are working on foot and riding as passengers in a surveillance car.

FOREIGN SERVICE NATIONALS (FSN) - Local help hired by embassies for miscellaneous tasks. They are sometimes intended, or at least acknowledged, as a sort of liaison with opposite security services. Not to be trusted with any access to sensitive info.

FORENSICS - The use of science and technology to investigate and establish facts in criminal or civil courts of law.

FOREST (The) - New location of KGB headquarters outside of the Moscow Ring Road.

FOUR-BAGGER - Disciplining an errant agent by FBI headquarters, consisting of censure, transfer, suspension, and probation.

FRA - Sweden's military signals intelligence agency.

FREQUENCY FLOODING - A technique that allows an ordinary telephone to become a covert listening device.

FRIEND - Slang for an agent, informant, or mole providing information to a handler.

FRIENDS - General slang for members of an intelligence service, specifically British slang for members of the Secret Intelligence Service.

FRONT - A legitimate-appearing business created by an intelligence agency or security service to provide cover for spies and their operations.

FSB - Russia's federal security service, successor to the KGB's Second Chief Directorate (internal counterintelligence). It's "family tree" is as follows : Cheka (1917-1922), NKVD (1934-1943), NKGB (1941 and 1943-1946), MGB (1946-1954), KGB (1954-1991), and finally the FSB (1995-present)

FUCHS, Klaus - Spy.

FUNKSPIEL - Impersonation during electronic communications. Derived from the German phrase for "radio game".

FUNNY PAPER - Slang for the counterfeiting and forged documents section of an intelligence agency or security service.




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GAD - The Graphics and Authentication Division of the Office of Technical Service, responsible for operational disguise and false documentation capabilities for the CIA.

GAMBIT - A highly sensitive disguise developed for the CIA with the help of their Hollywood consultant. It was first used in Indochina in 1971.

GCHQ - Britain's sigint agency, Government Communications Head Quarters.

GDGS - General Directorate of General Security (Direction Générale de la Sûreté Générale, المديرية العامة للأمن العام). Lebanon’s intelligence agency.

GESTAPO (The) - The Geheime Staatspolizei (literally : Secret State Police) was the secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe. It was created by Hermann Göring and then passed under supervision of Schutzstaffel (SS) national leader Heinrich Himmler.

GHOST SURVEILLANCE - Extremely discreet and seemingly omnipresent surveillance, working mostly out of the view of the target.

GIA - An underground group in Algeria.

GID - Iraq's main intelligence organization, Da' Irat al Mukhabarat al-Amah.

GHOUL - Agent who searches obituaries and graveyards for names of the deceased for use by agents.

GONE TO GROUND - To take evasive action in order to avoid further attention. To "lay low."

GOTTLIEB, Sidney - Spy

GOUZENKO, Igor - Spy.

GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS SECURITY BUREAU (The) - (GCSB) New Zealand's analog to GCHQ, GCSB is charged with promoting New Zealand's national security by collecting and analyzing information of an intelligence nature.

GRANVILLE, Christine - Spy.

GRAYMAIL - Threat by a defendant in a trial to expose intelligence activities or other classified information if prosecuted.

GREAT SEAL BUG (The) - Also known as the Thing. A highly successful Soviet mission in which a listening device was implanted within a copy of the Great Seal of the United States which was presented as a plaque to the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union, W. Averell Harriman.

GREY ZONE - Part of the five terrains of warfare : land, sea, air, space, and now cyberspace.

GRU - Russian military intelligence, the Glavnoye Razvedyvatelnoye Upravleniye, equivalent to the US's DIA. It is now also known as G.U.

GSS - Israel's security service (also called Shin Beth).

GTsST - Main Center for Special Technology, a unit of the GRU (Russian military intelligence) that is highly involved in cyberattack programs, including the enabling of influence operations. Suspected perpetrators of the NotPetya and South Korean Olympics hacks amongst others, and of trying to disguise their attacks as another country's misdeed.

GUAN-XI - An access agent for China's intelligence agency.

GUOANBU - One of China's security services.

GUILLAUME AFFAIR (The) - Espionage scandal.

GUSTAV WEBER - Hitler's double, used by the Fuhrer's bodyguards to stymie the Allies as to his whereabouts. Shot in the forehead immediately after Hitler's death.




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HALL, Ted - Spy

HAMAS - An underground group in Palestine (now in power)

HANDLER - A case officer who is responsible for handling agents in operations.

HANSSEN, Robert - Spy

HARD MAN - An experienced operative who can survive in a hostile environment and who has killed.

HARD TARGET - A surveillance target who is actively maintaining secrecy and may not reveal that he/she has detected the surveillance team.

HARI, Mata (Margaret Gertrude Zelle) - Spy

HEZBOLLAH - An underground group in Lebanon, alleged to have operating units in Latin America with links to major drug dealers.

HISS, Alger - Spy

HOLE (The) - The special security enclosure where the KGB's Kapelle device was kept.

HONEY POT - A female agent using romance to compromise a target. Mata Hari, Raven, lady, femme fatale.

HONEY TRAP - Slang for use of men or women in sexual situations to intimidate or snare others.

HOLLIS, Roger - Spy

HOOLIGAN TOOL - A specialized tool much like a crowbar, developed by fire departments for prying open doors and windows. Also used by SWAT teams.

HOSPITAL - Russian slang for prison.

HOSTILE / HOSTILE SERVICE - Terms used to describe the organizations and activities of the "opposition services," aka "the enemy."

HOSTILE RECRUITMENT - Recruitment by threat or force of an uncooperative informant, mole, or agent-in-place

HOUGHTON, Harry Frederick - Spy (See PORTLAND SPY RING)

HOUSEKEEPERS - The auditors and financial guardians of the Circus.

HUMINT - INTelligence collected from HUMan sources (HUMan INTelligence).

HUNTING PACK - Slang for surveillance team.

HVA - East German foreign intelligence service.




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IAKHBAL - Israeli police unit that fights organized crime.

ICBM - An acronym for instant calm breath method, a way to overcome the flight- or-fight reflex (panic). Also reduces hyperventilation.

ICBM - InterContinental Ballistic Missiles. Capable of international nuclear assaults from almost any range.

ILD - One of China's security services.

ILLEGAL - An intelligence officer operating in a foreign nation without the protection of diplomatic immunity.

ILLNESS - Russian slang for someone under arrest.

IMINT - Acronym for image intelligence. The collection and analysis of images collected by satellite or aerial photography.

INDUSTRIAL ESPIONNAGE - Espionnage for and by business players, but also by a country's official agencies vis à vis foreign interests.

INFILTRATION - The secret movement of an operative into a target area with the intent that his or her presence will go undetected.

INFORMANT - A legitimate member of a target group providing intelligence to the surveillance team. Can be can be called upon to testify in court.

INFORMATION WARFARE - Acquisition, use or denial of information, modern propaganda through misinformation, degradation of the opposition's information.

INNOCENT POSTCARD - A postcard with an innocuous message sent to an address in a neutral country to verify the continued security of an undercover operative.

INTELLIGENCE OFFICER - A trained member of an intelligence agency, an employee on salary.

INTERNET POLICE - A generic term for policing the Internet in a number of countries. Their role is to carry out online censorship, release online propaganda, and also to monitor and manipulate the online public opinion.

INTERNET RESEARCH AGENCY (The) -  Also called IRA and Glavset (Russian: Агентство интернет-исследований), is based in Saint Petersburg and is engaged in online influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests.

INTERPOL - International police body that coordinates the intelligence gathering and investigative activities of member police forces.

INTERROGATION - Is a type of interviewing of friendlies or ennemies. May involve a diverse array of techniques, ranging from developing a rapport with the subject, to repeated questions, to sleep deprivation or, in some countries, torture.

INQUISITORS - Interrogators responsible for debriefing members of MI6.

INVESTIGATIVE SPECIALIST - The FBI's name for a surveillance operative. (vehicle or foot)

IRA - An underground group in Northern Ireland. Has existed in various forms/names since 1916.

ISTIKHBARAT ASKARIA - Libyan military intelligence.

ITAC - Acronym for International Terrorist Assessment Center, located in Washington D.C.




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JANITORS - The operations staff of the Circus.

JARKING - Bugging a weapons cache, often rendering weapons unusable.

JEDBURGHS - OSS and SOE term for teams clandestinely dropped into Europe before D-Day to help resistance groups.

JETRO - One of Japan's intelligence agencies.

JIHAZ AMN AL DAOULA - Egypt's security service.

JOE - A deep-cover agent.

JRA - Japanese Red Army, an underground group in Japan.




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KANT, Noor Inayat - Spy.

KELL, Vernon - Spy.

KELLEY INVESTIGATION - Brian Kelley was a veteran CIA agent and spy hunter who worked for the agency for 22 years after another 20 years in the U.S. Air Force counterintelligence. Despite his experience and talent, Kelley was suspected of being a Soviet spy and was investigated for more than two years by the FBI.

KENPEITAI (The) - It was both a conventional military police and a secret police force. Carried out intelligence and subversion activities, recruited and ran spies, treated Allied captives with extreme brutality. (1881-1945)

KEYLOGGER - A software or hardware device or program used to capture the keystrokes any actions of a computer user, often without their knowledge.

KGB - The Soviet Union's all-powerful intelligence and security service during the Cold War. In 1995, the KGB became the FSK, and was then reorganized as the FSB by Boris Yeltsin.

K-LINE - SVR internal security and investigations section.

KOANCHO - Japan's counterintelligence and security service.

KOMPROMAT - Romanized Russian word for "compromising material". This material, real or forged, can be used as a threat to blackmail targets into loyalty, or made public in order to destroy said target. Used against foreign targets or internally as part of the SISTEMA.

KUCZYNSKI, Ruth - Spy.




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L-Pill (Lethal Pill- A poison pill used by operatives to commit suicide. Could be a capsule, ampule, or tablet.

LADY - Honey pot - See SWALLOW, HONEY POT.

LAKAM - One of Israel's intelligence agencies (Ministry of Defense).

LE CARRÉ, John - Spy, Author.

LEGEND - A spy's well-prepared and credible made-up identity, usually supported by documents and memorized in detail.

LETTERBOX - A person who is acting as a go-between. Also see CUT-OUT.

LfV - (Landesämter für Verfassungsschutz) A state-level security agency in Germany.

LIMITED HANGOUT - A partial admission of wrongdoing, with the intent of shutting down further inquiry.

LINK DIAGRAM - Connections being analyzed in a complex police investigation or counterespionage case. See problem-solving matrix.

LLB - An acronym for live-letter box, an address used to receive communication to be forwarded to an intelligence agency. See also DLB.

LUCY SPY RING (The) - German Anti-Nazi information network that operated out of Switzerland. A better way of describing it would be a series of inter- connected networks operating in several countries with the goal of bringing about the downfall of the Nazi regime.

LODY, Carl - Spy.

LONETREE, Clayton - Spy.

LONSDALE, Gordon - Spy.

LOOK-A-LIKES - Decoys used to confuse hit squads and surveillance teams.

LSD - An acronym for d-lysergic acid diethylanide, a hallucinatory drug discovered in 1943 by Dr. Albert Hofmann, a researcher at Switzerland's Sandoz corporation, a pharmaceutical manufacturer. Subsequently monopolized by the CIA for its MKULTRA project that developed methods for secretly controlling people.




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MABAHITH (The) - General Investigation Directorate (aka al-Mabahit and al-Ammah), a Saudi secret police force. Surveillance, intel gathering, beatings, torture (even children), and killings.

MACLEAN, Donald, Spy - The escape from Britain by Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess is one of the most mysterious and confounding in the annals of espionage. It was a stunning event that rocked the government and began a series of mole hunt throughout the intelligence world.

MASINT - Measurement and Signature INTelligence; a form of technical collection that uses signatures that do not fit into the traditional scope of IMINT and SIGINT.

MASKIROVDA - Russian name for deception techniques designed to fool US spy satellites. Recently used by India's counterintelligence agency to conceal nuclear testing from the CIA.

MAY, Alan Nunn - Spy.

MATA HARI - Honeypot, femme fatale.

MBR - One of Russia's intelligence agencies, disbanded in December 1993 and replaced by the FSK, which ultimately became the FSB.

MERCURY FULMINATE - An initiating agent for detonating PETN, or Pentaerythritol tetranitrate, the most exlosive substance known and one or the main ingredients of Semtex. See PETN.

MI5 - The British domestic counterintelligence service; officially known as the Security Service.

MI6 - The British foreign intelligence service; officially known as the Secret Intelligence Service.

MICE - An acronym for money, ideology, compromise, and ego - the usual motives for spying. Some say an S for sex should be added, thus making the acronym SMICE.

DIRECTORATE OF MILITARY INTELLIGENCE - Also known as Aman, is Israel's overarching intelligence agency and its largest component. Along with Mossad and Shin Beth, it represents the backbone of Israeli intelligence. It incorporates the cyber warfare branch, Unit 8200, the Havatzalot Program, an elite training program, and has its own reconnaissance unit, the Sayeret Matkal which is based on Britain's SAS and said to be equivalent to the USA's Delta Force.

MILLER, Richard - Spy.

MILF - Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

MIN/MAX - A concept in strategic game-theory.

MINISTRY OF STATE SECURITY (MSS) - Intelligence agency and non-military security agency of the People's Republic of China. Counter-intelligence, foreign intelligence and political security.

MIT - Millî Istihbarat Teskilati. Turkish National Intelligence Organization. It supposedly co-operates with both American and Russian intelligence agencies.

MITI - One of Japan's intelligence agencies.

MKULTRA - US research program. Project MKUltra, also called the CIA mind control program, is the code name given to a program of experiments on human subjects, at times illegal, designed and undertaken by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Innocents died in those experiments. (See Sidney Gotlieb)

MOLE - Also known as a "penetration agent","deep cover agent" or "sleeper agent", is a lomg-term agent of one organization sent to penetrate an opposite secrets-rich environment or intelligence agency, generally by gaining employment in sensitive areas. One of the many terms popularized by John Le Carre.

MONTENEROS - An underground group in Argentina.

MOSCOW RULES (The) - Set of rules for agents developed in Cold War Moscow. Every new "embassy staffer" had them memorized when he arrived.

  1. Assume nothing.

  2. Never go against your gut.

  3. Everyone is potentially under opposition control.

  4. Do not look back; you are never completely alone.

  5. Go with the flow, blend in.

  6. Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.

  7. Lull them into a sense of complacency.

  8. Do not harass the opposition.

  9. Pick the time and place for action.

  10. Keep your options open.

MOSSAD - One of Israel's intelligence agencies, noted for its expertise in wet affairs. Literally translated as "institute".


MUKHABARAT - Arabic term for intelligence, as in intelligence agency. The term is sometimes used negatively, connotating repression, often by means of secret police or state terror.

MUSIC BOX - Slang for a clandestine radio.

MUSICIAN - Slang for a clandestine radio operator.




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NAKED - A spy operating without cover or backup.

NAICHO - One of Japan's intelligence agencies.

NARCOTHERAPY HYPNOSIS - CIA interrogators use hypnosis to force regression in the prisoner to make him believe he is talking to his spouse.

NCSC - National Cyber Security Centre, an organisation of the UK government that provides advice and support for the public and private sector in how to avoid computer security threats. Its parent organisation is GCHQ. Ireland also has a like organism also called the NCSC.

NEUROLINGUISTICS - A branch of psychology used by intelligence agencies and security services to covertly manipulate unsuspecting human targets.

NEUTRON BOMBARDMENT - Used by security services like Britain's MI5, America's FBI, Germany's BfV, and France's DST to detect microdots and invisible writing in postal mail. Originally developed by the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment in Britain for use by MI5.

NEW ZEALAND SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE - (NZSIS or SIS) is New Zealand's primary national intelligence agency, responsible for national security (including counterterrorism and counterintelligence) and foreign intelligence.

NICHOLSON, Harold - Spy.

NIGHTCRAWLER - A talent spotter who prowls bars and nightclubs looking for government. employees, military personnel, etc. who can be compromised using booze, drugs, or sex. Also see TALENT SPOTTER.

NIS - Norway's Intelligence Service.

NITROUS OXIDE - An anesthetic inhalant used to render sleeping targets unconscious during surreptitious entry by goon squads.

NON-OFFICIAL COVER (NOC) - An operative who assumes covert roles without official sanction, also known as "illegal" agent. Does NOT have diplomatic immunity and thus, if caught, may be subject to severe criminal punishment up to, and including, execution.

NSA - US sigint intelligence agency and security service, the National Security Agency.

NSS - Bulgaria's security service.

NSTL - FBI's national security threat list.

NUGGET - British term for the bait (money, political asylum, sex, or career opportunity) offered to a potential defector.

NUMBERS STATION - Shortwave radio station characterized by broadcasts of formatted numbers at regular times on designated frequencies, which are believed to be addressed to intelligence officers operating in foreign countries.

NURSEMAID - Russian term for the security service officer who accompanies delegations to other countries to prevent anyone from defecting.




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OBS - Croatia's intelligence agency, the Obavestajna Bezbednostna Služba.

OFFENSIVE PENETRATION OPERATION - Infiltration of an agent into a target group or organization.

610 OFFICE (The) -  A Chinese extra judicial intelligence agency, under the command of the Politburo, with the purpose of carrying out surveillance, intel gathering and ultimately destroying the Falun Gong. Carried out spying on Falun Gong organisations the world over, notably in the United States, Canada and Australia. Since 2003, it's role has been expanded to more varied forms of social control and intelligence.

OFFSITE - A covert site or facility situated away from a field office.

OGPU - The Joint State Political Directorate (also translated as the All-Union State Political Administration and Unified State Political Directorate) was the secret police of the Soviet Union from 1923 to 1934.

OKHRANA - Secret police under Russian tsars 1881-1917.

ONE-TIME PAD - Strings of random numbers for singular, one-time use as a key in enciphering and deciphering messages. the proper use of a one-time pad renders a message mathematically unbreakable.

OP - Observation Post.

OPEN-SOURCE - intelligence gained from public materials.

OPERATION GOLD (also known as OPERATION STOPWATCH by the British) A joint 1950′s American-British operation which was funded by the United States and involved creating a secret tunnel half a kilometer long which entered the Soviet-occupied zone in East Germany.

OSA - Official Secrets Act. Legislation that protects official information and state secrets relative to national security.

OSINT - Open Source INTelligence. Intelligence information derived from publicly available sources such as government reports, financial reports, books, movies or realistic TV shows such as "The Americans".

OSS - Office of Strategic Services; the U.S.'s WWII intelligence, sabotage, and subversion organization. Was at first dubbed by some "Oh So Secret," "Oh Such Snobs," “Oh So Social”.

OSTER, Hans - Spy.

OUTRIDER - A wheel artist responsible for ensuring that the target does not get outside the floating box of surveillance vehicles. (See also FLOATING BOX).

OVERT TARGET - Deliberately attempts to draw attention and drain the resources of an intelligence agency or security service. Occasionally a decoy.




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PARALLEL-LINE / INCIDENTAL-CAPACITANCE - A method of telephone, telex, and communications eavesdropping that is virtually undetectable.

PAROLES - Passwords to identify intelligence personnel to each other.

PATTERN - The behavior and daily routine of an operative that makes his or her identity unique.

PAVEMENT ARTIST - Outdoor surveillance specialist operating on foot.

PEEP - Photographer.

PERIMETER SURVEILLANCE - Used to alert the surveillance team when the target enters or leaves a specific area.

PELTON, Ronald - Spy


PETN - Pentaery-thritol tetranitrate, a plastic explosive favored by intelligence agencies and security services. See mercury fulminate.

PFLP - An underground group in Palestine.

PGP - Pretty Good Privacy. An open-source encryption program.

PHOTINT - PHOtographic INTelligence, usually involving high-altitude reconnaissance using spy satellites or aircraft.

PHILBY, Kim (Harold A. R.) - Spy

PICKET SURVEILLANCE - Focuses on times and places when target is likely engaged in activities of interest to the surveillance team. Also called chokepoint surveillance. Named after the openings in a picket fence.

PICKUP - When the target of a surveillance operation is first spotted inside the stakeout box.

PIG - Russian intelligence term for traitor.

PINE GAP / JOINT DEFENCE FACILITY PINE GAP - Global communications interception base. Run jointly by Australia, the CIA, the NSA and the NRO. It is a contributor to the NSA's global interception effort, which included the ECHELON program. The unclassified covert term for the NSA facility at Pine Gap is RAINFALL.

PINHOLE CAMERA - Video camera with fiber-optic lens attachment.

PITTS, Earl Edwin - Spy.

PLAINTEXT - The original message before encryption.

PLAME, Valerie - Spy.

PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY - The ability of people to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions. In the Katyn Massacre, more than 20,000 Polish prisoners were executed by the Soviets using German-Made Walther PPKs, thereby giving Soviets the cover of plausible deniability.

PLAYBACK - To provide false information to the enemy while gaining accurate information from him or her.

POCKET LITTER - Items in a spy's pocket (receipts, coins, theater tickets, etc.) that add authenticity to his or her identity.

POLLARD, Jonathan - Spy

POLYAKOV, DMITRI FYODOROVICH - High level Russian mole and a Soviet Major General working for the USA. Blown by Robert Hanssen.

PORTLAND SPY RING (the) - Soviet operation which took place around Portland, England during the late 1950′s until 1961, aiming to obtain information about the capabilities of the British nuclear submarine fleet. The ring was comprised of five main players and all were illegal resident spies. (See HOUGHTON, Harry Frederick, who might have been the ringleader.)

PRISM - Code name for a program under which the United States National Security Agency (NSA) collects internet communications.

PROBLEM-SOLVING MATRIX - A grid-based notation system used by police investigators and counterespionage officers when dealing with complex cases.

PRODUCT - Finished intelligence that has been evaluated by an intelligence agency and is ready for distribution to consumers. Also see CONSUMER.

PROFESSIONAL-NAME - Nom de guerre of a spy.

PROFUMO AFFAIR (the) - British political scandal that originated with a brief sexual relationship in 1961 between John Profumo, the Secretary of State for War in Harold Macmillan's Conservative government, and Christine Keeler, who dad a parallel affair with a Soviet diplomat and others. This led to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's resignation.

PROVOCATEUR - An operative sent to incite a target group to action for purposes of entrapping or embarrassing them.

PURPLE - American name for the Japanese diplomatic cipher machine used from 1939-1945.

PSB - One of China's secret police agencies.

PSIA - One of Japan's security services.

PSYCHIC COMBAT - A condition of active psychological warfare operations between two covert adversaries.

PSYCHODYNAMICS - The CIA's psychological profiling system, used in combination with psychobiographic analysis. https://www.britannica.com/event/Katyn-Massacre




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QUANG BO - Vietnam's military intelligence agency.

QODS - One of Iran's security services.

QRF - Quick Reaction Force.




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RADINT - Intelligence gathered from radar.

RAID - An acronym for Rapid Assessment and Initial Detection, consisting of teams of National Guardsmen who assist civilian authorities after a suspected biological/toxin/chemical attack on a population center.

RADOLFI, Alexander (Sandor Rado) - Spy

RAVEN - A male agent employed to seduce people for intelligence purposes.

RAW - India's External Intelligence Agency

RCMP - Police agency in Canada similar to the FBI in the USA. Acronym for Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Also known as RCM Police.

RCMP SECURITY SERVICE - Counterespionage, counterintelligence, and counterterrorist branch of RCMP. Also known as RCMP SPECIAL SERVICES.

RED - American name for an early Japanese diplomatic cipher machine.

RED BRIGADE - an underground group in Italy.

REDL, Alfred - Spy

REILLY, Sidney (Sigmund Georgievich Rosenblum) - Spy

RENT-A-GOONS - Operatives proficient in hand-to-hand combat, used as muscle support when direct physical confrontation is likely.

RESIDENT (REZIDENT) - KGB or GRU (Soviet and Russian military intelligence) chief of station in any foreign location.

RESISTANCE - A civilian underground organization, consisting of cells (1 to 10 persons), circles (a group of cells), and sections (a group of circles).

RG - France's police intelligence security service, Renseignements Généraux.

RICHER, Marthe (Marthe Betenfeld) Spy

SPY RING - A network of spies or agents.

ROLLED-UP - When an operation goes bad and an agent is arrested.

ROSENBERG, Ethel - Spy

ROSENBERG, Julius - Spy

RQ-1 Predator - Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. A medium-sized, long-endurance asset for reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition in moderate risk areas.

RUDOLF, Ivonovich Abel - Spy

RUDOLF, Roessler - Spy

RUSE DE GUERRE - Subterfuge

RZ - An underground group in Germany. Literally translated as revolutionary cell (1973-1995).




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SA - FBI special agent.

SAFEHOUSE - A dwelling place or hideout unknown to the adversary.

SANITIZE - To delete specific material or revise a report or other document to prevent the identification of intelligence sources and collection methods.

SANTEBAL - Special branch of the Cambodian Khmer Rouge era government, in charge internal security and running the prisoner camps, torture and killings.

SAPO - Sweden's security service.

SASHA KVAP - Spy. Codename for Alexander Kvapishevski, a Russian mole inside Hitler's bunker during the final months of World WarII. Subsequently poisoned by the KGB in May 1960.

SAVAK - one of Iraq's security services.

SBU - The Security Service of Ukraine (Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrayiny). It is Ukraine's law-enforcement authority and main government internal security agency in the areas of counterintelligence activity and terrorism combating.

SCHINDLER, John R. - Spy

SCIF - A Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF; pronounced "skiff"), is an enclosed area within a building that is used to process Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) types of classified information. SCI is usually only briefed, discussed, and stored in an accredited SCIF.

SECURITY THROUGH OBSCURITY - Security by obscurity involves taking measures that don't remove an attack vector but instead conceal it. It is the subject of heated debate.

SEMTEX - A military explosive suitable for sabotage and terrorist operations.

SERE - An acronym for survival, evasion, resistance, and escape.

SERVICING - The act of removing material from a dead drop.

SET UP - To begin to conduct surveillance on a target.

SHOE - A false passport or visa.

SHIN BETH - Israel's security service (also called GSS).

SIDE - Argentina's security service.

SILVERMASTER SPY RING (the) – Cold War Soviet spy ring operating within the United States and specifically within the Federal government.

SIGINT - SIGnals INTelligence; consists of COMINT (communications intelligence) and ELINT (electronic intelligence).

SINN FEIN - The political arm (party) of the IRA.

SIS - Secret Intelligence Service; the official name of Britain's MI6.

SISTEMA - A set of rules that guides the informal hierarchy that is observed in Russia and some post-soviet countries, in place of strong formal legal institutions. The sistema, of which KOMPROMAT is a big part, regulates among other things the distribution of wealth.

SIT REP - Situation report.

SLEEPER - Agent living as an ordinary citizen in a foreign country. Acts only when a hostile situation develops.

SLUZBA BEZPIECZENSTWA - Poland's security service, also called the SB.

SMEDLEY, Agnes - Spy

SMERSH - Short for "Smert Shpionam" (Death to Spies); a Soviet counterintelligence agency that existed from 1943 to 1946; made famous in the James Bond novels.

SO15 (The) - The Counter Terrorism Command (CTC or SO15) is a Specialist Operations branch within London's Metropolitan Police Service.

SORM - System for Operative Investigative Activities, the technical specification for lawful interception interfaces of Russian telecoms. Once exclusively for the FSB, the specs have since been broadened.

SOE - Special Operations Executive; Britain's WWII sabotage and subversion organization. Later became MI6.

SOFT TARGET - An easy surveillance target, untrained and not looking for surveillance.

SOG - An acronym for Special Operations Group, agents who conduct surveillance. Incontrast, SSG is composed of non-agents. See also SSG

SORGE, Richard - Spy

SOS - Morse code for Save Our Ship : dot dot dot - dash dash dash - dot dot dot.

SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAMS - "SAPs", also known as "SARs" in the Department of Defense, are security protocols that provide highly classified information with safeguards and access restrictions that exceed those for regular classified information.

SPECIAL BRANCH - The security branch of the British police.

SPLASHED - Describes a bodyguard whose client has been assassinated. Also see WET AFFAIR.

SPOOK - a spy.

SPY - Any member of an intelligence agency, security service, police agency, resistance movement, guerrilla group, or other organization engaged in covert intelligence-gathering activities.

SPYMASTER - The leader of espionage activities, and an agent handler extraordinaire.

SRI - Romania's security service.

SSG - An acronym for Surveillance Specialist Group, which is what the FBI calls a surveillance team. See also INVESTIGATIVE SPECIALIST. See also SOG.

SSS - Georgia's security service.

STASI - The East German Ministry for State Security; East Germany's Cold War domestic and foreign intelligence service (1950 - 1990) à la fin.

STATION - Post from where espionage is conducted.

STATION CHIEF - The officer in charge at a CIA station, usually in a foreign capital.

StB – Soviet Czechoslovakia's security service, the Statni Tajna Bezpecnost (1945 - 1990).

STEGANOGRAPHY - Techniques for concealing the very existence of a message (secret inks or microdots).

STREET AGENT - An agent whose work takes him to various locations. Also see BRICK AGENT.

SVR - Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki. Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service. Unlike the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), SVR is tasked with intelligence and espionage activities outside Russian Federation. Formed on December 18, 1991.

SWALLOW - A female agent employed to seduce people for intelligence purposes. See HONEY POT.

SWARMING - Overfilling a location with surveillance operatives. Often used in psy ops as a means for controlling the target's environment.

SZABO, Violette - Spy




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TAO - (Office of) Tailored Access Operations. A cyber-warfare intelligence-gathering unit of the National Security Agency (NSA). 

TARGET - The subject of surveillance.

TARGETING - The process of searching for potential spies. Determining who is in a position to access information and influence, and how to make contact with them.

TECHINT - Technical Intelligence. Analysis of fielded equipment for training, research, and the development of new weapons and equipment for eventual intelligence use.

TERMINATED - Murdered.

THE COMPANY - An unofficial term for the CIA popularized by fiction.

THE TAKE - Information gathered by intelligence collection operations.

THERMAL IMAGER - A heat-sensitive surveillance video camera and display.

THROWAWAY - An agent considered to be expendable.

TIMED DROP - A dead drop that will be retrieved by a recipient after a set time period.

TOKYO SPY RING (the) - Established by the Soviet Union as a means of determining Japanese diplomatic and military intent towards the Soviet Union during World War II.

TRADECRAFT - The methods developed by intelligence operatives to conduct their operations.

TRAFFIC ANALYSIS - Methods for gaining intelligence from the patterns and volumes of messages gathered by communications intercepts.

TRIADS - Asian organized crime gangs.

TRIGGER - A surveillance operative who is watching the target's vacant vehicle, home, garage, office, restaurant etc. and who alerts the rest of the surveillance team when the target is spotted.

TUPAMAROS - An underground group in Uruguay.

TURNCOAT - Person which switch sides, allegiance.




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U-2 - The world's most famous spy plane, developed by the U.S. specifically for intelligence collection in the thin atmosphere 55,000 feet above the Soviet Union; it is still in use today.

U-2 INCIDENT (the) - Occurred in 1960 at the height of the Cold War when the Soviet Union shot down an American spy plane over Soviet air space. The incident afforded Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev the opportunity to launch a show trial as well as a media propaganda effort against the United States.

ULTRA - Codename for intelligence derived from decryption of messages encrypted by the German Enigma cipher machine during WWII.

UNCLE - Headquarters of any espionage service.

UNSUB - An unknown subject in a surveillance operation.

UOP - Urząd Ochrony Państwa. Poland's security agency.

USAFSS - United States Air Force Security Service. It was essentially the United States Air Force's cryptographic intelligence/Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) branch. Operated from 1948 until 1979. Johnny Cash worked there as a Morse code specialist.

USEFUL IDIOT - Term that originated in Soviet Russia, designating a person that can be exploited for one's purposes.




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VEVAK - Iran's intelligence agency.

VON PAPEN, Franz - Spy

VSSE - Veiligheid van de Staat. Belgian State Security Service




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WAGNER GROUP (The) - AKA PMC Wagner, ChVK Wagner, or CHVK Vagner, is a Russian paramilitary organisation described as a private military company or contracting agency (comparable to Blackwater), used by the Russian government in conflicts where deniability is called for.

WAHABI - A Saudi Islamic group that often operates underground.

WALK-IN - A defector who declares his or her intentions by walking into an official installation and asking for political asylum or volunteering to work in place.

WALKER, John - Spy

WALKER SPY RING (THE) - Was labeled by the New York Times as “the most damaging Soviet spy ring in history.”

WATCH-LIST - People targeted for routine surveillance.

WET JOB / AFFAIR - Results in death of target or major bloodshed. Also see SPLASHED.

WHEEL ARTIST - An outdoor surveillance specialist operating in a vehicle.

WILDERNESS OF MIRRORS - A spy operation so complicated that it is no longer possible to separate truth and untruth.

WINDOW DRESSING - Ancillary materials that are included in a cover story or deception operation to help convince the opposition or other casual observers that what they are observing is genuine.

WITTING COLLABORATOR - A source that provides mostly gossip whose motivation is not very clear. Can sometimes be useful.




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XKEYSCORE - (XKS) A formerly secret computer system first used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) for searching and analyzing global Internet data, which it collects on a daily basis. The source code was published in 2014 by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (German equivalent of PBS) in 2014. Edward Snowden said that with XKS any email could be read, any website's traffic scrutinized, any individual tagged.




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YARDLEY,  Herbert - Spy

YAKUZA - A criminal organization from Japan. One of the world's largest.




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ZAPATISTA NATIONAL LIBERATION ARMY An underground group in Mexico.

ZERO-OUT - The range at which a weapon's sights will produce a bull's eye hit.

ZERSETZUNG - A technique of psychological warfare, oppression and persecution used by the Stasi to repress political opponents. It was a descendant of the Nazi's Wehrkraftzersetzung.

ZHONGYANG LIANLUOBU - One of  China's  intelligence agencies.

ZOU-HOU-MAN - Back door access to a protected target (as used by China's  intelligence agencies).