In Iraq, and to a lesser extent Afghanistan, rewards for information
have proved very useful. Oddly enough, getting money for the rewards has never
been a problem. No, the major problems have been communications, and keeping
the identity of the informants secret, as the terrorists and anti-groups often
carry out reprisals against those who inform on their murderous activities.
Communications, letting people know about the program, and actually getting the
information in time for it to be useful, has been the big show-stopper. With
millions of cell phone users in Iraq (Saddam did not allow any), the
communications problem has finally been solved there. Over the last two years,
American intelligence troops have developed workable methods to get informants
paid quickly and safely. Speed is important, and the troops try to get their
tipsters paid within 24 hours (of the information proving useful.) Rewards
range from $100 (for reporting a corrupt Iraqi cop, which may mean he is
working for the terrorists as well as himself) to a thousand dollars or more
for the capture of a terrorist (the fee goes up with the importance of the guy
caught.) Your average weapons cache will bring a few hundred bucks. This is the
average monthly wage for an Iraqi, and what the terrorists often pay people to
help them out with their attacks.
true Middle Eastern fashion, there is often a round of bargaining, to determine
how much a tip is worth. This is because there is rarely a price list for
everything. You can put a specific price on the head of an individual, or offer
a fixed amount for finding a roadside bomb, or where a suicide bomber is
hanging out. But the haggle factor becomes more of a problem when it comes to
safe houses (which could hold anything from a few low level people, to a major
leader), bomb workshops (some are quite large) and weapons and bomb material
caches (the same.) The solution is mainly one of gaining experience.
there is basic information, on how to run an informant network, in training
manuals, it’s difficult to train for this. The army is trying to solve this
problem with interactive computer simulations (much like the best video games
now available), but these things take a while to develop.