Intelligence analysis 101

I was going through my documents and came across this practical exercise I gave a couple of years ago to some analysts and, given some work I’m doing for a class I’m taking, figured I’d post it here.  It’s based on a real event but the names and details have been changed to protect the guilty.

You shouldn’t require too much in the way of experience or background in the law enforcement, homeland security, or intelligence fields.  When I ran this scenario I didn’t allow any internet searching or additional information since it was primarily a critical thinking exercise and I recommend you not search specifically for this ad as it might alter your answer and you wouldn’t have had access to that information at the time (although, it’s not like I can stop you…).  I’ve included a few links in the scenario that would probably be most helpful.

If you’d like, post your answers in the comments section and I’ll follow up with the ‘answer’ and my thoughts in a day or two.

Situation: You work as an analyst for a law enforcement/homeland security agency.  Your boss sends you the following picture with an attached alert from an agency similar to yours (but with a lot more money and a good reputation for being ‘on the ball’).

The alert says:

This full page ad appeared in today’s NY Times and the Washington Post.  The text says:  ‘On September 7th, 2005, the New York Stock Exchange was scheduled to add Life Sciences Research Inc. (LSRI) to the big board.  Fifteen minutes before trading opened, NYSE officials changed their mind.  LSRI is involved with vital pharmaceutical research that requires the use of animals.  NYSE employees were reportedly threatened by animal rights activists whose campaigns had already targeted businesses connected to LSRI.  In March, six of the campaign’s leaders were convicted of federal terrorism charges but the NYSE is still running scared.  Find out more at

Analysis: We interpret this ad to be a message by animal rights extremist groups (such as the Animal Liberation Front or SHAC) indicating their determination to step up attacks against the pharmaceutical and financial industries in our area.  All agencies should be on alert for indicators of targeting such businesses.  While we have no specific information regarding threats at this time, law enforcement should exhibit caution as such groups have a history of engaging in illegal activity, including  physical violence.

Your boss turns to you and asks what your opinion is of the article and analysis.  Do you agree with the interpretation of the ad?  Why or why not?  Do you agree with the analysis?  Why or why not?  If not, please provide an alternate explanation.  What recommendation(s) do you make to your boss?

As a note, don’t bother trying to go to, the link is now dead.



One response to “Intelligence analysis 101

  1. Pingback: Intelligence Analysis 101 (part 2) « Travels with Shiloh

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