Thursday, July 13, 2006

Incident: Terrorist NGO affiliation, Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan government announced a Tamil Tiger fighter, killed during an attack on an army patrol, was employed by CARE International as a field monitor. An investigation is continuing. (Report is here, including the name and photos of the dead staff member - warning, graphic images.)

If this report is accurate, and the CARE ID card wasn't stolen or forged, this could have a significant impact on international NGOs operating in Sri Lanka, with greater government suspicion and controls.

Let's face it. International NGOs are a natural target for infiltration by anti-government movements. The credibility, access and support of a Western organization with political clout all provide an excellent operating cover for someone covertly gathering intelligence.

Although background checks for national staff are a relatively common security procedure, they are usually done in the context of discovering a criminal past. Most NGOs are not thinking about political infiltration (by either government or anti-government personnel). As a security officer, depending on where you're working, this is something you should probably be thinking about. At the very least, management should have contigency plans in place to deal with a situation where a staff member is identified as having a clear affiliation with a known anti-government group.


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