The Anatomy of Counterintelligence: European Perspective

Indexed in: EBSCO

In recent decades, a significant volume of literature on the subject of counterintelligence has become available. The knowledge given by this literature has addressed the confusion surrounding ...
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Counterintelligence Operatives, Targets, Foreign Agents and Foreign Operatives

Pp. 110-132 (23)

Teodora Ivanusa and Iztok Podbregar


The chapter is dedicated to human resources in the field of counterintelligence. Whereas, technological developments have brought about progress in intelligence, counterintelligence, and security, the human element has remained unchanged since the very beginning and remains key part of counterintelligence. The section presents some of the main characteristics of counterintelligence operatives, especially in relation to what shaped them and why. It is important to fully understand these circumstances and reasons, since anyone can, knowingly or unknowingly, become the target of foreign intelligence activity, e.g. a secret agent, an intermediary, or bait; the text looks at factors that influence whether a person is of interest to a foreign service. People of interest to foreign services often become secret agents, which is why it is important for counterintelligence services to be aware of the indicators that may alert them to foreign agents and to be familiar with the most common groups of people recruited as secret agents. Such knowledge should also be vital to state officials as well as people in the industry (especially in high tech, energetics, telecommunications, etc.), since it can contribute to a timely detection of spies. Operatives are trained in concealing their identities and covering their tracks, so they are more difficult to uncover than agents. A special form of operative is discussed, i.e. an operative working under the guise of a diplomat.


Counterintelligence personnel, Diplomats, Espionage, Foreign agents, Foreign operatives, Indicators, Motives, Secret agents, Targets.


Department of Organization and Management, Faculty of Organizational Sciences, University of Maribor, Kidričeva cesta 55a, SI-4000 Kranj, Slovenia.