Intelligence: Watching The Black Holes

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July 29, 2008:The CIA is having a hard time monitoring nine ungoverned areas around the area, and that's a big deal in the intel world. These "black holes" are ideal hiding places for Islamic terrorists, and some have been found in many of these lawless areas.

The most well known black hole is the tribal areas (Pushtun and Baluchi) along the Pakistan-Afghan border. This place, like most black holes, has been one for thousands of years. Alexander the Great spoke (well, complained, actually) about it 2,400 years ago.

Further to the north, there are vast stretches of Central Asia that would make for a splendid black hole, except for the fact that the area is very sparsely inhabited, and rather thoroughly monitored by some of the most effective police states on the planet (mainly China and Russia.) You can be alone up there, but not unnoticed. However, it's such a large area, that even the local secret police have a hard time keeping up, and Islamic terrorists have been found, often after being there for several years.

But off to the west, you do have a black hole in the Caucasus, along the southern Russian border. A really nasty place, full of bandits and roughnecks of the most vile sort. You really need a good introduction to survive in this black hole. Many Islamic terrorist do, but they also know that they could be sold out by mercenary minded locals at any time.

To the south, we have Arabia, where someone with enough cash can disappear, either in the (expensive) comfort of one of the commercial minded Arab Gulf States, or further south in Yemen (where smaller bribes are demanded and the cost of living is lower.)

Africa has several black holes. The most well known one is Somalia, which has been one for centuries. Then there's the Congo, which could be considered one big black hole, but actually gets more black holish the farther you get from the Congo river. Eastern Congo has been unsettled for a long time, and southwestern Congo (Katanga) is almost as good (as black holes go).

Just to the north there is the Sahel, a semi desert area just below the Sahara, and going from the Atlantic to Chad (in the center of the continent.) Nasty climate, and the nomads have to be paid off, and watched carefully, but it all makes for a great hideout. Hundreds ofIslamic terrorists are believed to be hiding out here at the moment.

The Sulu Sea and Celebes (or Sulawesi) Sea, and surrounding islands (Mindanao, Bali, Sulawesi) have long been a popular hideout for pirates and exiles of all sorts. Still is, and because of the largely Moslem population, it's an easy place to Islamic terrorists to blend in and disappear. The hand of government has never been very heavy in this part of the world.

In South American, we have the Colombia-Venezuela border, rendered lawless by a four decade old leftist revolution in Colombia. Locals tend to keep their heads down, and don't hassle strangers, especially strangers with guns and a bit of attitude.

To the north we have the Guatemala-Mexican border. Again, a leftist rebel movement on the Mexican side, and a general state of lawlessness on the Guatemalan side, have created the kind of place you can hide out in. Especially if you speak Spanish and look subversive.

The CIA has a presence in all of these areas, although inside Russia it has to depend a bit on Russian intelligence agencies, and good will. Each of these areas is dangerous for Americans, and local agents are usually recruited. All these areas get a lot of attention from spy satellites and high flying reconnaissance aircraft. But, as the saying goes, you really have to be there, on the ground, to get an effective feel for the place. And even then, the best you can do is observe. Going in is a major military exercise, even if it's only with commandos.

 


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