Affairs

Defence

Reach for the spy— Global

Preface

As technology becomes more prevalent in the world of espionage, the idea of an undercover agent in a trench coat might seem old-fashioned. But the human touch is still very much in demand.

ISI (Pakistan), MOIS (Iran), National Clandestine Service, RAW (India), STRATFOR

The lights may have all but gone out on the James Bond franchise but real-life spies have a knack for attracting the exposure they are meant to avoid. From the radioactive poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko to the glamorous allure of Anna Chapman and the Russian spy swap, the intelligence world has kept on turning with the intrigue of the Cold War.

Although field agents such as Chapman remain central to the whole business of spying, technology is revolutionising intelligence work: brush-pasts and micro-dots are out, drones and spyware are in. The…

  • ISI (Pakistan): The ISI is a master at playing both sides. Having set up the Taliban in the 1980s, it remains involved in the Afghan militant group. At the same time, Pakistani intelligence has supported the US in its war against the Taliban. So whose side is it on? The answer is: probably its own.

  • MOIS (Iran): Rumours abound of Mossad and CIA influence in the Iranian intelligence agency, so counter-intelligence efforts to safeguard Iran’s nuclear secrets are paramount. MOIS has stepped up its activity in Afghanistan, assisting the Taliban.

  • RAW (India): Criticised after the Mumbai siege in 2008, India’s Research and Analysis Wing has invested in new equipment. Believed to have thousands of agents in Pakistan, RAW is allegedly behind camps that train fighters to wage a proxy war against the Pakistani military in Kashmir.

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