Human Intelligence (HUMINT) is the collection of information from people.
HUMINT is probably the most well-known intelligence collection method.
The subject of numerous movies, novels and TV shows, think James Bond, Homeland, or any John le Carre novel…. HUMINT is the practice of recruiting human ‘sources’ to provide privileged information.
So, how does HUMINT work?
A Source is usually identified and ‘cultivated’ by an Agent or Intelligence Officer. Agents are always on the look out for new sources, through a process known as ‘talent spotting’.
Potential HUMINT sources are screened against a different factors to determine their ability to be recruited and act as a spy.
Agents will be trained to determine the following factors about a potential source:
- Access to classified information,
- Motivations (money, ideology, or ego perhaps),
- Ability to provide required information,
- Pattern of life – so as to not arouse suspicion.
Over time the Agent builds a strong rapport with the source before using their motivation to recruit them as a spy.
HUMINT can be collected from people who are willing participants, recruited sources or detained persons.
In some cases HUMINT is collected officially by ‘declared’ agents who conduct liaison with different agencies.