Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Why the international terrorist organization made such a tactical blunder in allowing the American spy agency into their inner circle is not entirely clear. However, after a years-long intelligence stalemate, agency sources indicate that al-Qaeda accepted the CIA's friend request in early May of this year.
"It was a complete one in a million shot but we had exhausted all of our options" CIA spokesman, Paul Gimigliano said, "but after experiencing only modest intel gains lately, we just went for it to see what would happen."
Gimigliano credits the Agency's success to a recently hired data analyst who suggested a new social media battle front against international terror networks. In December, a request was sent to the Director of the Office of Terrorism Analysis for the establishment of a joint operation to click the "Add as Friend" button.
Five months later, "Operation Evildoer Link" was launched and after four days of nail-biting anticipation, a message came through indicating that the secretive terrorist organization finally accepted the CIA as its Facebook friend. As a result, the CIA was rewarded with a treasure trove of network connections, photo albums, friend lists, as well as likes and interests.
CIA officials were amazed at how easy it was to access the terror network's inner friend circle but it became clear that the need for social acceptance was al-Qaeda's achilles heel.
"As it turns out, they were friending anyone who would ask," Gimigliano said. ". . .how do you have 4,000 friends, really? We should have thought of this a long time ago."
Within days, the CIA exhausted their collection of data from al-Qaeda's main wall page, quickly cataloguing who it was talking to, recent insurgency operations it attended, and its "liking" attacks on infidels by other terrorist groups. Investigators then stumbled upon a much longer record of its reign of terror by clicking an "Older Posts" link at the bottom of the page.
"It just opened up a complete history of their operations," Gimigliano said. "As it turns out, they were actually involved in the 9-11 attacks after all. . .glad we were able to put that to rest."
CIA analysts were again able to get a deeper understanding of the group's nefarious enterprise by clicking the "info" button which revealed what activities al-Qaeda was into, its interests, where it went for training, and its favorite movies (none), music (none), and television shows (none).
This release of operational information to western intelligence agencies has been devastating. Al-Qaeda has subsequently found its leadership decimated and had several major attack plans thwarted over the last month. However, just as it has in the past, al-Qaeda will adjust and adapt and the CIA is preparing for that day.
"Now that they've de-friended us, we'll have to look for other sources of information," said the CIA's spokesman. "We hope we can get one of our agents to join a Yemini terrorist club on Meetup.com or something."
Currently, the CIA is hoping al Zawahiri (al-Qaeda's #2) will accept their recent LinkedIn connection request.
"It's more of a business-oriented networking site," Gimigliano said, ". . . more of a trusted professional thing, so we don't think he will suspect anything."