Notes on False Flags in US Institutions in North Africa

November 1, 2018

Notes on False Flags in US Institutions in North Africa
False Flags in US Institutions in North Africa

54 pages

Inv. No [Redacted]


Copy No. [Redacted]

Acquisition and Preparation of Agent Recruits for the Purposes of Intelligence Penetration of USA Institutions (on the Example of a Number of North African Countries). Analytical Overview




This analytical overview studies the special features of the methodology of selection and training of recruiting agents for work in penetrating USA institutions under the conditions of North African countries (Algeria, Morocco, Tunis).


Table of Contents

– In recent years “legal” residents of the KGB find it harder and harder to recruit US officials as counter-intelligence has been strengthened, personnel increased, and new operational and technical means are used. Americans stepping up the security of their buildings of interest to Soviet intelligence. They inspect and track employees of these institutions better and their contacts with Soviets, they take measures to expose Soviet intelligence agents, they organize stings, they conduct surveillance of agents and their connections.

– The USSR KGB’s First Chief Directorate [PGU] has noted the necessity and importance of this activity.

– A number of previous works of the KGB and PGU Institute have covered false flag operations.

“Their study is quite useful, since the principles contained in these works have preserved their relevance both for the rezidentura operating in the countries of North Africa at the present time as well”.

p. 5

But some aspects haven’t received enough attention.

This survey will cover the role of recruiter agents in activating work with employees in American institutions; some questions of methodology in selecting recruiter agents; and organization of work with recruiter agents, their training and preparation including for false flag work and also the particularities of their communications and maintaining their security and checking up on them.

Decrees and instructions from the KGB and PGU have been used and also materials from the headquarters’ special collections; comments from agents with experience have also been taken into account.

This is for employees of the PGU 10th Department who work at the Center (Moscow) as well as in “legal” rezidenturas of the KGB abroad.

p. 6

The work of KGB is made much harder by harsh counter-intelligence measures of locals in Morocco and Tunisia in conjunction with intelligence agencies of US, France and FRG

“In the countries of socialist orientation, in particular in Algeria, where the political and operational setting for Americans is less favorable and where they sense the heightened attention to themselves of the local counterintelligence, the fulfilment of requirements for security are carefully maintained in USA institutions.”

– strict inspections, including body searchers; firing of suspicious persons; checking of personnel using surveillance equipment

“If before, the method of direct work on Americans in a number of cases yielded positive results and justified itself, in current conditions, work from these positions has become very difficult. At official USA representative institutions there are strict instructions not to allow contacts with Soviet workers beyond job duties. Thus many Americans refuse contacts with Soviet citizens even without prejudices toward the Soviet Union.”

– Soviets under greater surveillance, which means recruitment attempts run risk of being exposed and an occasion for provocation; “Increasingly, the enemy is undertaking such drastic measures as detention and arrests of the employees of our rezidentura”.

p. 7

– Spy mania campaigns more frequent, various prophylactic measures taken to neutralize the rezidentura

The rezidentura has the following flaws given these circumstances:

– recruitment is mainly done directly by legal rezidentura members due to the lack of recruiter agents able to recruit Americans

– false flags are used very rarely

– study of candidates is too slow, and vetting is not sufficiently deep

– some agents are not keep cover and prematurely showing their hand to potential recruits

p. 8

– More than 80% of agents in the network in 1980-1983 brought in by operational workers (agents) and only 15% by recruiter agents.

– participation in recruitment must become one of the chief methods of strengthening the agent network, aimed above all at getting important and secret information from the USA.

– using citizens of the countries targeted, or foreigners residing there in recruitment of US officials has a number of significant advantages

– recruiter agent doesn’t fall into the enemy’s field of vision if he maintains intelligence tradecraft konspiratsiya; the legal rezidentura will have a harder time of this

– ethnic Arabs are in the same milieu as the targets of recruitment among the local employees of the US facilities, as a rule are better than agents, they know national, psychological and other particularities

– false flag is easier to do – “This circumstance has important significance in the work on the American line since among the officials of the USA facilities who possess interesting intelligence possibilities for us, it is extremely rare to find persons ideologically close to us who will make contact and maintain relations with a Soviet citizen.”

– while work in recruiting Americans is very hard, in the end it yields a positive result and the chance of failures are reduced and security enhanced.

pp. 9-10

Conditions for false flag operations in North Africa:

– “presence of a large Western European colony in the countries under review, which gives the rezidenturas the opportunity to recruit from among its representatives the recruiter agents for work on the personnel in the USA facilities”;

– “activity of leftist forces in the countries of the region, in whose milieu the rezidenturas can recruit and train recruiter agents and spotters;

– “diversity of political parties, organizations and groups which creates a favorable soil for selection, creating of legends, and the use of false flags”.

– Despite strict control of US facilities, there are some factors that make recruiting easier — Americans might behave more freely abroad than at home, many live in separate villas, their behavior is not supervised, especially in pro-Western countries like Morocco and Tunisia.

“Vividly expressed individualism and a constant striving for personal prosperity, uncertainty of the future often leads to some Americans getting into conflict with the requirements placed on them by government service, including in particular they strive to use their stay abroad for personal enrichment”.

“The cheap work force, the high level of unemployment in the North African countries enable Americans to have personal house servants who are relatively accessible to our rezidentura from the perspective of acquiring from its midst an agent’s network capable of performing assisting task on the American line”.

– Number of local workers at the American facilities rather large (for example in Morocco in 1986, there were 96 Americans and 268 local personnel).

p. 12

“In the foreign intelligence of the USSR KGB, a recruiter agent is understood to mean a ‘specially-trained agent undertaking under the direction of intelligence the recruitment of persons of interest to it”. [Footnote no. 1 is to the Unified Dictionary of Chekist Terminology. Part I. Intelligence. Edited by F.D. Bobkov; KI KGB, Moscow, 1986, p. 5). Bobkov was head of 5th Department that kept surveillance over dissidents — CAF].

Sometimes such recruiters are brought in at the end of the process, in others they are present at all stages.

Character traits required:

1. – strong character able to adapt to any circumstances, get people disposed to him, subject them to his influence, run them, otherwise, this may happen: (example)

“In one of the countries of the region, agent “F” was in communication with the rezidentura, a correspondent of the print organ of a bourgeois nationalist party. Since “F” had a direct access to several local citizens working in the USA facilities, and was a vetted and fairly experienced agent in the operational sense, the decision was made to use him after the relevant training to recruit “X,” a local employee of the American facility who was of interest to us. Under the direction of agent [operational worker] “F,” we managed to establish good relations with the facility, conducted a study and analysis, but then everything stalled there. Despite the convincing conclusions on our part, that the development was essentially completed and we must move to the recruitment, “F” kept postponing the recruitment talk with the target under various excuses. Only after some time did he admit that he was not bold enough to reveal himself to the target being worked on, to cross the line in the trusting relations he had formed with him.”

p. 13

2. – Agent has to be able to develop a certain legend to have a plausible false flag under his institution, organization, firm, etc. The recruiter agent also has to be able to use the flag of the organizations in his legend.

3. – Extremely important that the agent is protected from counter-intelligence and is reliable from our perspective, “unquestionably loyal to us”. If he starts hiding things or is insincere, if he is not objective in his judgements, then better not to use him. Example:

“Recruiter agent “K,” a local businessman was brought in to develop and American citizen, the female “L,” the secretary at one of the USA facilities. After establishing friendly relations with her, “K,” determined that the American was burdened by material dependence on her relatives. Taking into account the factor of the material interest, the development of “L” was continued under the flag of a European firm, and information of interest to us began to come in from her. In his reports about his development, the agent wrote that he was in intimate relations with “L”. That turned out to be untrue, and after awhile, when she had the prospect of making a profitable marriage, the American woman lost interest in our agent. In the process of determining the reasons for the situation that developed, the agent admitted that he had deceived the operational officer due to male pride. Thus the insincerity of the agent led to the disruption of the recruitment work”.

4. – The recruiter agent has to be able to keep konspiratsiya, to make a correct legend for his actions and to be vigilant because sometimes he will have to work over people who have not been sufficiently studied.

5. The recruiter agent must be “disciplined and organized with the ability to fulfill our orders exactly with full responsibility”

“In practice, it is very hard to find a candidate who possesses all the enumerated qualities to a sufficient extent”.

– Often an agent will recruit members of his own family, and in these cases it is not necessary to have these qualities, since the recruitment depends on the level of his relationship.

p. 15

– often recruiter agents are taken from among existing agents who gather political information, etc. because they can get their relatives and friends, or co-workers and clients. “Usually such agents have passed through the following stages, roughly speaking: source of information – spotter – developer-recruiter.

– some agents who collected information and have outlived their usefulness could be used as recruiters

– the best results have come from using local intelligence agents since they can have a “cover” for their Soviet intelligence activity the flag of their local security services and avoid detection of our involvement in an activity.

“It should be taken into account that the local personnel in American institutions in the countries under review may be more likely to agree to cooperation with their intelligence services, regarding this as an inevitable necessity”.


“In one of the countries of the region, the rezidentura for a long time could not acquire agent positions in the USA Embassy because USA intelligence kept heavy control over the contacts of the entire personnel. The rezidentura took “M” to develop, an officer of the counterintelligence organ of the country of stay from the perspective of using him as a recruiter. “M” was brought in to cooperation under the Soviet flag. His operational training was based on performing concrete assignments from the rezidentura to study persons of interest to us. Through “M,” the rezidentura conducted the development and recruitment of “K,” a citizen of the country of stay and a technical employee at the American consulate, under the flag of the local counterintelligence. With the help of “K,” an operational and technical measure was successfully undertaken. Characteristically, after the discovery of the stashes, the enemy, despite every attempt, could not establish the involvement of Soviet intelligence to this measure. It is also important to note that “M” in the future was successfully used as a recruiter, since “K” did not betray our agent, fearing repressive measures on the part of the local intelligence services”.

– In using local intelligence people you have to be careful not to expose him to the local counterintelligence itself, which is watching the American facility.

– Agents from third countries, members of the diplomatic corps, representatives of governments in exile, national liberation movements and other foreign political organizations as well as interns and students can be used in recruitment of local and European employees of USA institutions

p. 18

– Particularly difficult has been recruiting employees of the encryption service, administrative sections, secretaries, registrars, and so on.

“The problem is that in the countries with a difficult operational setting (for example, in Morocco) a significant part of the acting agents’ network has little opportunities for development and recruitment of USA citizens. The feeling of superiority over the local population inherent in Americans; their higher standard of living is an obstacle which significantly hinders the possibility of their recruitment development by agents from among the local citizens.”

– Local citizens used as agents often can only be used “in subsidiary tasks like the collection of initial information on the persons of interest, study of their personal qualities, their surroundings and in some cases infiltration of surveillance technology at the American’s place of residence”.

– More useful to use citizens of Western Europe such as France, Spain, Italy, FRG or Canada with access to US facilities. Recruiters can be various professionals, merchants, or freelancers or journalists. Europeans working in the American organizations in North Africa offer wide opportunities for recruitment. Americans trust them more, there aren’t the national and psychological barriers for informal communications.

– Study of materials from recruiting efforts doesn’t enable us to say which country in Europe is the best; in each individual case, tailor it to the individual qualities and capabilities

p. 19

– finding a target for recruitment as a recruiter agent can take 2-3 years, as long as finding a good source of information; they only become useful then even some time after that, sometimes a rather long time.

– given heavy counterintelligence in Tunisia and Morocco, agents have to do a ton of work to prepare, they have to meet with targets many times, which can be hard doing without getting exposed

– a reason restraining more active recruitment work in Northern Africa is insufficient knowledge of the contingent of people who have access to employees at US institutions under legend.

– the agent has to have a very clear understanding of his target; he has to figure out what categories of local citizens and foreigners could maintain direct contact with Americans in these facilities under a legend

p. 19

– Existing KGB agents in the rezidentura don’t make for good recruiting agents because the “high demands for [the recruiters] significantly restricts the circle of people suitable for this goal”.

– Even so, not as active as it should be, though hard – takes 2-3 years to recruit and train an agent and “real use from an agent begins to be felt only after some period of time, sometimes rather significant”.

– Harsh counter-intelligence makes it very difficult

– Usually under these circumstances the often used method is to find someone ideologically and politically compatible; “This is justified and understandable since as an agent close to us in the ideological sense, other qualities being equal, he will be the most reliable. Such an agent operates as a rule decisively and purposefully, guided by the interests of the common cause and not pragmatic considerations”.

– Same goes for those with a purely financial motive from among those in the world of commerce. Not bad results yielded but even so, we must try to move to an ideological foundation with them.

– the flag most used for external intelligence in recruiting recruiters is the Soviet flag as this is mainly in the interests of Soviet intelligence which is why Soviet intelligence officers who are “legals” do this.

– But two lines have to be pursued in North Africa — to get into American facilities we have to work with citizens of the country plus foreigners there who have access.

p. 20

“Agent recruiters must select foreigners and local citizens who are outwardly favorable in the political sense, whose personality and activity does not attract attention to themselves on the part of the enemy’s counter-intelligence. Thus, for intelligence work in the countries of North Africa, persons connected to the local communist parties or other progressive organizations, in particular the societies for friendship with the USSR and other socialist countries, since they may be under the surveillance of the intelligence services of the countries”.

So categories to target:

– intelligence and police in the targeted country – they’re the best to work with American facilities; they can put covert surveillance on Americans and compromise them

– journalists, lawyers, owners of various firms, their employees, scientists, teachers with contacts at American facilities — without suspicion, due to the nature of their profession, they can meet Americans, study them, develop them, all under a false flag.

– government officials, politicians and trade union leaders are also good for this

“Local and foreign businessmen are the best suited for the role of recruiter agents to work with local officials of economic and information departments of US facilities under the flag of business. As practice has shown, the employees of USA facilities often eagerly make contact with businessmen which under the appropriate conditions can encourage them to cooperate with a private firm.”

– Another line is targeted recruitment of US citizens under false flag.

– Thousands of Spanish and French in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia who are good for this purpose; also Portuguese, Italians, Belgians and others from NATO countries.

– Among them many journalists, employees at international organizations, business people, employees at various firms, teachers, scientists, doctors, engineers, grad students, students who can be potentially used as recruiter agents to get to Americans.

– Those who are permanent residents in the targeted countries or who were born there are best for this purpose because they aren’t going to be under as much pressure from local intelligence

– Europeans are going to have significantly greater opportunity for close contact with Americans than Arabs

– Businessmen a great category for recruits —

“Thus, for example a Frenchman who has a fairly high position in the office of a powerful French firm like ALSTOM who has interests in practically all the African countries and competes with American capital may well serve as a recruiter of American officials who are in the economic department of the US Embassy (USAID”. ALSTOM is simultaneously an appropriate flag. On the other hand, interest toward an employee of this French firm on the part of a Soviet trade representative looks quite natural, and contact with him can be well-legended.”

p. 26

– in Africa, another important area to target in American facilities are typists, secretaries, office managers etc.

“Attention should be paid to those person who acting under the appropriate legend under a false flag, can conduct effective study and development of them, using such special features of this category of women as their unsettled personal lives, loneliness in a foreign country, material interests. As practice has shown, the best results are obtained by recruiters who appear under the flag of various economic, trade, financial organizations both of a national and a regional and international nature (oil monopolies, banks, intermediary firms, OPEC, and so on”.

p. 28

– recruiters have to spend a lot of time studying their targets and making their legends and if they are married that can mean having to explain long periods away from home. It also means they can’t work overtime at regular jobs. That’s why “of first-most significance in the work with recruiter agents are ideological and political education, operational training, skilled guidance of their recruitment work and organization of communications with them to guarantee the security of their activity”

p. 29

– keep in mind they are often under a barrage of bourgeois, anti-Soviet and anti-communist propaganda so they need education

p. 30

– for agents who don’t share our convictions, study how they came by their own convictions closely – try to re-educate him but carefully, without being too hard. A mistake often made by agents is that they pay attention to the ideological factor in the beginning, but drop it later. But it must be done systematically and long-term. Agents must also be trained to be disciplined, organized, careful, loyal etc.

p. 35


“In a North African country agent “D” was recruited on an ideological and political basis, an employee at a Western firm, a European, a citizen of a third country. The rezidentura began purposely orienting “D” toward comprehensive study of American personnel at a USA facility in this country, with which the agent’s firm was connected through commercial interests. First, the agent was given assignments to make an initial study of the persons of interest to us, in particular, his attention was directed toward the need to find in the Americans’ behavior certain aspects that could be of interest to us. The relevant methods for maintaining and developing contacts with Americans were developed with “D,” he was taught methods for conducting recruitment. Thanks to work conducted by the rezidentura for several years, “D” became an experienced developer agent, and then a recruiter agent. During the ideological and educational work, the agent’s anti-American sentiments were actively employed, the basis for his dissatisfaction with the fact that the country, a citizen of which he was, was in the backwaters of USA politics. After “D” successfully developed the legend supplied to him, and had fulfilled several additional vetting tasks, he was assigned to conduct recruitment work on a technical employee of an important USA facility in that country, “K,” a study of whom was made preliminarily through the agents’ network of local citizens. Through a specially-developed trick, “D” was brought to “K”. The acquaintance of “D” with “K” proceeded normally, and the relationship between them soon took on a trustworthy nature. Subsequent recruitment development of the employee of the US facility, conducted on a mixed material and mental-psychological basis, enabled the rezidentura to obtain interesting intelligence information which to a decisive degree defined the nature of our future actions regarding the American woman.”

pp. 35-36

Staff in US embassies of use to the Soviet Union (military, technical personal, coders, secretaries, administrators, etc.) who are hostile to the Soviet Union can be reached by false flag (either real or legended).

Example – “M,” a Soviet agent already watching an American office in a North American country spotted “R,” a man who wanted to put aside a large amount of money for when he returned to the States. He would make entirely speculative deals to raise this stash. “M” was limited in what he could do, as a Soviet, so he enlisted “V”, a European businessman who got the American into some illegal deals and thus created the pretext for his recruitment. V created a legend that prosperous European firm had ties to an American corporations; “M” was impressed as he was looking to find a good position, with the help of a “partner” (who turned out to be a Soviet agent in the US).

“The presence of a competent spotter, skilled selection and qualified management by the rezidentura of the recruiter agent were decisive conditions for the successful completion of this complicated recruitment, which required significant efforts over a fairly long time.”

p. 37

It’s best of all when the false flag is related to the professional or social position of the recruited agent. Then he will be more confident in his actions and have more trust in those planted next to him.

“Thus, for example, for a recruiter who in the past was a high-ranking diplomat with a large circle of friends, pro-nationalist minded, a nationalist organization can be chosen; for an agent working as a technical employee in a Western office (France, Spain etc.), the flag of that office; for an agent who is an active member of a party sympathizing the regime of one of the influential Arabic countries (for example, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc.) the flag of the intelligence service of that country.”

In false-flag operations with Arabs, be sure to that the target and the recruiter belong to the same ethnic group or faith (i.e. Sunni, Shiite, Ishmaelite etc.) p. 39

Recently the opportunity for false flags in penetrating US facilities has enlarged in North Africa with appearance of national liberal movements, radical regimes, trans-national corporations, oil-producing countries.

For Palestinians working in US facilities, the Palestinian flag can be used, given the large number of various political platforms of Palestinian organizations, each of which has its intelligence service.

– Study recruit carefully, his character, inclinations, position at work, family, contacts, political orientation

– Look for opportunities to move the operation to Soviet or Eastern European country which will make it easier

p. 39

Recently the opportunity for false flags in penetrating US facilities has enlarged in North Africa with appearance of national liberal movements, radical regimes, trans-national corporations, oil-producing countries.

For Palestinians working in US facilities, the Palestinian flag can be used, given the large number of various political platforms of Palestinian organizations, each of which has its intelligence service.

– Study recruit carefully, his character, inclinations, position at work, family, contacts, political orientation

– Look for opportunities to move the operation to Soviet or Eastern European country which will make it easier

p. 40

– While with other agents who obtain information or conduct operations, personal contact should be at a minimum, with no contact or brush contact, with the recruiter agent, personal meetings are required especially when he is being trained.

– Personal meetings needed to conduct ideological work and see his behavior

– With heavy counter-intelligence in place in Northern Africa, safe houses must be rejected in favor of other meeting places, either public places or work places

– But capitals in North Africa have few public places suitable for meetings with agents, so look for opportunities outside the capital under the guise of recreation, at the beach, fishing, tourist trips to historical monuments etc.

p. 41

– since meetings have to be frequent, have two legends – one to explain the acquaintance, and one for each specific meeting

– legend should be simple and convincing and able to be tested or better yet, never cause doubt

– prudent to use camouflage [maskirovka] and disguise the recruit’s outward appearance

– never carry any compromising materials

– have the ability to call a meeting any time

– also use non-contact meetings with signals, visual contact etc.; radio


– use a system with memory and distance guidance to leave messages when agent is absent

– experience has shown that one-sided signals are not as effective as two-sided

– radio is good with countries with difficult operational conditions such as Tunis

– make sure you have a danger signal ready

p. 43

– make the signal easy to remember

– check the recruit while he is performing tasks, keeping to konspiratsiya and being tactful so as not to insult him

– a recruit can be more valuable than the agent himself, and therefore he has to look to his security as much depends on his own security and how much he maintains konspiratsiya

– a recruit made on material grounds can be easier to abort than one made on psychological grounds or compromising materials

– make him aware of counter-intelligence techniques of enemy

– be ready to abort the recruitment if threats arise

– don’t re-use agents targeting American facilities in Northern Africa if they have already one successful recruit

Example: pp. 46-47

– Citizen “B” in a Near Eastern country with friendly relations to the USSR was recruited in a Western embassy. He obtained political and operational info, then was made a recruiter agent and recruited others, including one from an Arabic consulate from his own country.

– mistakes often made include insufficient reliability of the legend, over-valuation of initial data about the target as to the basis for his recruitment and his willingness to maintain contact; incorrect determination of the reasons for his recruitment; counter-intelligence decryption of recruitment work; insufficient knowledge of the target’s position and national features of the facility targeted

The rezidentura checked up on “B” giving him hard assignments; they sent him packages and containers designed to be opened (using an extreme measure, they sent him a package that had to be opened under suspicion of being a bomb). Six years later, “B” left the country since supposedly he had come to the attention of local intelligence. But two years after that, the rezidentura acquired documented proof that “B” was a plant by local intelligence all along, who saw the operations being played to him and professionally responded to them. Since “B” was only used against third countries, relations were not ruined between the Soviets and that Near Eastern country.

p. 47

In vetting agents, keep in mind:

– most are recruited on ideological and political lines, so keep checking views, convictions, authentic political nature of the agent etc. very thoroughly;

– when vetting, check not only the agent, but the flag used; these can be done at different times

– after the recruit acquires enough knowledge of our methods of vetting, and sometimes himself takes part in vetting others; he can easily recognize vetting methods used on him

p. 48

– agent and recruit can often become close which is a good stimulus for work but it can also be a negative if the agent becomes more tolerant of mistakes and flaws in the recruit; this must be kept in mind while vetting

– keep in mind that US intelligence often looks for people to recruit who themselves would be of interest to KGB recruiters, meaning you could be dealing with a plant or provocateur

– care should be taken to create conditions that make recruit’s work successful – legend that he can explain to his family when he is away from home evenings; provide regular monetary compensation, especially if he has expenses in recruitment or suffers loss of income due to working less hours while working for KGB;

– a journalist, businessman, lawyer, civic figure, insurance agent has ready plausible explanations as to why he is away from home

– a student, teacher or scientist might also take extra work that would explain his absence from home and his extra income from KGB

– 50

Example (summary)

– KGB set up a plan for recruit “O”, whose job didn’t enable him to spend time on acquiring contacts, to have 10 months of journalist training to explain his absence from home, then got him a TV job then to explain more income. Given that his wife was happier with his better-paying job, his meetings away from home then weren’t as much trouble to explain to his wife.

– having to explain absences away from home to family is a major problem that should always be solved

– to avoid failures in operations, the agent must “constantly manifest inventiveness, resourcefulness, operational cunning, find new ways and means for the recruitment development of employees of American facilities”.

pp. 52-54

Conclusions and Recommendations

– difficult circumstances in North Africa mean security must be paramount

– use legends and pretexts

– but false flags create their own huge volume of work; the chief obstacle is insufficiently qualified recruiter agents;

– easier sometimes to use as recruiters reliable agents who may have lost intelligence value, since they are already trained; down side is they may have come to attention of counter-intelligence

– penetration of US facilities has high demands, so selection of agents limited

– efforts spent at careful study, long preparation, cultivation pay off

– the best way to train is to give concrete tasks

– organization of communications is key; personal meetings best

– vet the agent regularly to maintain security; check his material; use external surveillance; use the agents’ network and illegals to vet.