The Washington Post has reported that Al-Qaeda and other aggressive groups have frequently sought to infiltrate the United States intelligence agencies that are investigating several of their employees so as to counter the threat. While citing a classified budget document, the Washington post reported that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had found out that 20% of the job applicants who had suspect backgrounds had major connection with terrorists and/or hostile intelligence agencies.
The document was made available to the paper by Edward Snowden, a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA), who is currently a fugitive in the Republic of Russia under a temporary asylum. Although the document did not define the nature of the ties between the job applicants and the hostile groups, it mentioned Hezbollah, Hamas and Al-Qaeda and their affiliates most of the times. The fear of infiltration by the hostile groups is such that the National Security Agency planed to investigate about 4,000 employees last year who were given security clearances. They became aware of suspicious activity in the midst of the members of staff after they scouted about through trillions of keystrokes from the employees at work.
Two people who are familiar with the software used in the monitoring of the employees told the paper that the suspicious activity included the employees accessing confidential databases that they typically don’t need their work or downloading a number of documents. However, due to serious delays and uneven implementation of the software, the multi-billion dollar effort failed and the intelligence agencies did not detect that Snowden was copying various highly confidential documents of the NSA. He is now wanted by Washington for espionage charges which are connected to disclosures to the media on United States Surveillance Programs.
One official told the post that over the past several years, a small subset of the total job applicants to the CIA were flagged due to a variety of issues or problems. In this period, one in five in the flagged group were found to have major connections with terrorist groups and/or aggressive intelligence services.
According to the document, the NSA is creating a huge database, which is known as WILDSAGE, to help in the sharing of sensitive intelligence amongst the cyber security centers. The move has however raised fear that the database could be infiltrated. The intelligence agencies have increased the monitoring of insider threats, especially following the disclosure of many diplomatic and military files by WikiLeaks 2010. Bradley Manning, a former intelligence analyst who has since changed name to Chelsea Manning, had leaked the files to them.
In the year 2011, the congress ordered James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, to set up a an automated program for insider threat detection to prevent future leaks, identify double agents and stop possible abuses. The project was however delayed severally while the intelligence world dealt with the consequences left in the wake of the leaks by Manning. The administration has since cracked down on the insider threats and last year, president Obama issued a National Insider Threat Policy which defined the threats as the ones from terrorism, illegal disclosure of information on national security and terrorism.